Old Trafford rocked as Manchester United reinforced local bragging rights after a dramatic win last night. City, fresh from taking a first leg lead amid claims of being the “world’s best,” slumped on the biggest night for the blues in decades. Heartbreaking for the men from Eastlands but magnificent for the majority at Old Trafford.
Inevitably it was the peerless Wayne Rooney who stole all the headlines with a wonderful performance and a match winning injury-time goal.
So long Carlos Tevez, who had scored twice at Eastlands and once again last night to bring City back into the tie. In between veteran Paul Scholes drove United ahead and Michael Carrick sidefooted home before the Reds’ claimed victory in a dramatic night of Carling Cup football.
United had made the late call to keep Rio Ferdinand within the side by appealing the Football Association’s violent conduct charge against the England defender. It proved the right choice, with the former-Leeds United defender adding calm authority amid the storm of an electric Old Trafford atmosphere.
In midfield, Ferguson chose to deploy Scholes, Carrick and Darren Fletcher. While some fans are rightly wary of leaving Rooney alone up front, the like-for-like formation against City proved the Scot right once again. Fletcher, in particular, was instrumental in supporting Rooney from midfield.
But it was Ferdinand who brought the first moment of controversy, challenging former-United striker Tevez in the area, for the Argentinian to fall under the challenge. Referee Howard Webb felt that the defender’s challenge was fair as Tevez only half-heatedly appealed.
The the striker, who had insulted United’s Captain Gary Neville in midweek, brought a good save from Edwin van der Sar as City stood toe-to-toe with United during a first period that failed to meet the heights of entertainment to come.
If the emphasis was on Rooney to spark United into life then the former-Evertonian rarely lets anybody down. Indeed, it was Rooney’s magnificent driven cross-field pass that set up the opening United goal. Ryan Giggs, forced wide by Shay Given in the City net when through on goal, found first Nani and then Carrick in support. But it was Scholes, playing further forward than is the norm these days, who needed no second attempt to drive the ball home when squeezed out to him on the edge of the area.
The goal deflated City and United, now well on top, drove home the advantage with 25 minutes to go. Carrick coolly placed the ball past Given after Fletcher’s attempt was blocked.
But for all United’s dominance, the home side was only ever a goal ahead on aggregate and within minutes Tevez had stooped in ahead of Ferdinand to flick home to bring the tie level. The defender, perhaps ring-rusty after three months on the sidelines, failed to attack the ball and United paid the price.
Then the dénouement in stoppage time, with Rooney heading home Giggs right-wing cross and celebrating wildly as the roof came off Old Trafford.
Rightly, Ferguson withheld his deepest post-match praise for the Scouser who in Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence has taken his game to the very highest level. But the Scot also praised supporters in a week when he offered no quarter to the fans’ anti-Glazer campaign.
“It was much better than Saturday,” Ferguson said of Rooney who once again ploughed a lone furrow up-front.
“I know he scored four goals but here his control leading the line and his link up play was fantastic. Overall it was a wonderful performance. World class.
“It’s a derby game and you like to win your derby games. The atmosphere tonight, and the fact it was a semi-final tie, added a lot of spice to the match. And the fact we scored so late in the game brought a special type of celebration.
“Nothing really happened in the first half. They sat very deep. What we said at half-time was to keep playing our football and keep spreading our play.
“I’m proud of the team. I also must pay tribute to our support. They were unbelievable.”
Indeed the supporters were, who traveled home jubilant after once putting local upstarts in their place. City’s time will come of course – unrestrained spending is highly attractive to mercenary players like Tevez. But for now it is the Red side of Manchester that will travel to Wembley in a month’s time.
4 thoughts on “It’s adios Carlitos as Rooney powers United to Carling Cup final”
Great night. Also good to see even more green and gold in the stands…the rest of you think about putting away the red till the Glazer’s are gone and have stopped leaching the life our of our beloved club. If your red shirt is your lucky shirt just wear it under the green and gold. Soon we’ll be able easily pickout the day tripper megastore whores by the colour coding.
Brilliant football and was good to see the team being so pumped up…especially scholes celebration was as animated as I have seen! Wembley here we come!
I’ve been a United supporter all of my life. I was born and brought up in Manchester. I do not appreciate any fans of this great club describing other people who travel far and wide to catch a game of their life as “day tripper megastore whores”. How dare you use those sort of terms to describe people who want to get a glimpse of this huge football giant. It is the stuff kids’ dreams are made of and I for one see it as a great honour and responsibility to welcome these people to Manchester United. Just seeing the smile on their and their kids faces is a real pleasure and honour!
I Agree with Mico. If only locals went to old trafford each match then we could kiss goodbye to all the success we currently enjoy. Manchester United is a global sporting monster and without that global support there is no way we would be one of the biggest clubs in the world, maybe just another Newcastle united. To call supporters who don’t live anywhere near Manchester or even anywhere near England “daytripper megastore whores” is highly disresectful and insulting. I for one am neither Mancunian nor British but have supported united since 1983 when I was just a little boy. I’ve only been to old trafford 5 times but cherish the memory of each of those visits. I don’t think this makes me any less or more of a supporter than Alastair whether hes from Salford or not! Gimp!