|Kompany is the hero for City|
City Go Top On Goal Difference
The title deciding match in the city of Manchester ends in favor of the blue half of the city as the Red Devils face one of their first seasons without some sort of trophy. After years of League and European dominance, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side compromised their title race today when they failed to even draw with hated rivals Manchester City. Kompany was the hero for Manchester City and their fans, scoring the only goal in the fixture at the Etihad Stadium and putting his team back on top of the Barclay’s Premier League table.
Manchester United were off their mark at the starting whistle, attacking with dangerous pace, forcing some early action from Joe Hart and the rest of his defensive line. Within the first minute the visitors had forced a corner kick from Manchester City but the threat was cleared by their defense.
The first free kick of the game went to Manchester United as well after Park was brought down in the midfield. Manchester City were on their toes and were able to defend but it was a nervy start for the home fans as United continued to attack their goal.
Silva had the first look at goal for the home side with five minutes gone when he forced a block from Smalling. The young defender did well to get a foot in front of the quick shot from the Spaniard and clear the threat. Wayne Rooney played his part in the box-to-box action in the opening minutes, taking the ball down the field quickly to try to catch City on the counter but they were able to clear the ball for a corner.
United continued to knock the ball around City’s final third, but they were eventually pushed back into the midfield. The visitors were dominating by the time ten minutes had passed and were able to claim the most attacks on goal but City were starting to find their rhythm.
In the fifteenth minute, Jones was forced to make a vital interception when Tevez wriggled his way into space and got a cross off just inside the six yard box. Aguero was prowling, but the quick thinking from Jones denied City a promising chance on goal.
Kompany saw the first card of the game, a harsh call even in the eyes of neutrals, when he came in on Wayne Rooney. Much to the displeasure of the Manchester City fans, the Red Devil’s scoring machine went down in the middle of the pitch and didn’t get up until the ball was passed out of play. He reentered the pitch with no problems and Kompany was punished by the ref.
With twenty minutes gone, City were set in their passing rhythm and were playing with the dominant passing style associated with Barcelona and the Brazilian national team. They kept good possession from United, who struggled to get in attacks even when the ball came into their possession. Rather than passing around the City defense they went for long balls up the wing where their midfielders were dispossessed or the strikers snuffed by the opposition.
Manchester City applied constant pressure to the visitors, nearly scoring the opening goal in the 23rd minute but Aguero’s first touch let him down when he tried to receive a pass under pressure just inside the six yard box. Manchester United were defending well, keeping the dangerous strike force of Manchester City at bay but they were close to conceding.
In the 39th minute, United finally broke loose and created a potential goal scoring opportunity but City were quick to win the ball back and bring it up the field into United’s half. With half of the United squad caught up in the attack, Tevez and Aguero were able to work their way up to the goal but Aguero’s shot went wide. Rooney responded to the City attack with one of his own, saving a long cross from Nani and putting it back into play but his pass back was cleared.
In the 45th minute, Manchester City had a corner kick awarded to them and City captain Kompany would be the hero for his side, sending a powerful header past De Gea and giving Manchester City the 1-0 lead going into the halftime break.
Like the first half, the visiting side were the first ones to threaten their opponent’s goal. Joe Hart was forced to make a big save in the opening minutes to deny Rooney an easy header into the City goal. He mishandled an easy ball in from the United attack after the threat from the initial corner was cleared and conceded a second chance for Manchester United but the Red Devils were unable to make the most of the chance.
Manchester United started to lose their grip on possession and the attack, slipping back into their defensive slump that they found themselves in during the first 45. Samir Nasri dazzled in the second half, creating multiple chances for himself and his teammates as they pressured the United defense. The Frenchman really should have had at least a goal, but De Gea and his backline were able to keep the ball out of the back of their own net.
With United struggling to keep the ball out of their own final third, Ferguson made his first change in the 57th minute, taking of Park and putting on striker Danny Welbeck, who has been in good form lately. The young English striker’s first touch on the ball nearly set Rooney up for an attack, but he was stripped of the ball and City were on the counter. Aguero was also in top form for the match as his father-in-law, Diego Maradona, watched from the stands. The young striker dribbled into pressure on several occasions, threatening the United goal but eventually losing possession.
In the 63rd minute, United had one of their first quality attacks of the half, forcing Lescott to concede a corner kick. Giggs took the corner but it was punched out of the area by Hart. The minutes that followed were nervy for City and their supporters as they continuously cleared the ball from their own area, struggling to settle back into their possessive rhythm.
With 67 minutes gone, Mancini decided to alter his lineup as well, bringing off Tevez and replacing the striker with Nigel De Jong the Dutch defensive midfielder.
Phil Jones saw the first yellow for United in the 69th minute when he came in hard on Gareth Barry, catching his ankle. Barry continued to be the victim of tactical fouls for the remainder of the match. United were able to turn the resulting free kick in their favor, taking the ball up field towards the City goal but their efforts were broken up by Toure, who went down the field to counter but his final effort went well wide of the target.
Substitute De Jong was carded in the 75th minute after tapping Welbeck on the back of his leg and bringing the young striker down just outside the City box. The free kick was cleared by the wall and Aguero took the ball down the field. He was in a promising position to score but dribbled himself into a tight angle and hit the side netting instead.
Paul Scholes was sacrificed for Valencia in the 77th minute to see if the speedy winger could change up the pace of the match in favor of Sir Alex’s side. The panic began to set in as the time remaining on the clock waned. Ferguson put on Ashley Young in place of Nani in the 81st minute and the winger had an immediate impact on the United attack, helping them create a few breakaways in the closing minutes.
In the 89th minute, Nasri was in a perfect position to get his name on the scoreline after dribbling the ball past three United defenders and then dinking it around right in front of De Gea’s goal, but he held the ball too long and was tackled by the defense. He was then substituted off in the second minute of five minutes of stoppage time for James Milner.
As the game came to a close, United refused to go down without a fight. In the 93rd minute, they were in possession passing the ball around the final third in City’s half much like the blue team in Manchester had been doing to them for a good portion of the match. City managed to clear the threat for a corner kick, setting United up for a dramatic finish.
Joe Hart was the hero for City, throwing his body on the line to get to the ball and injuring himself in the process. As the keeper climbed to his feet, Kompany took the kick and the final whistle sounded.
The blue side of Manchester will be celebrating tonight as they are now at the top of the table by goal difference. All Manchester United can do is pray that their rivals slip up in their final league fixtures and that they score as many goals in their final three as possible. As of now, City will win the title with their +61 goal difference and deny Manchester United their 20th title in team history.