Vincent Kompany gave Manchester City the victory on Monday evening when he soared above the Manchester United defense to head home the game’s only goal. It was a tight, hard fought match between the cross town rivals, but City looked firmly in control throughout the match. As it stands, Manchester City now lead Manchester United in the race for the Premier League title thanks to an 8 goal lead in goal differential. This deadlock at the top means that the title will be decided over the next two weeks of fixtures that has Manchester City facing Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers, while Manchester United will face Swansea and Sunderland.
United appeared to take a conservative tactical approach to this match and excluded several younger members of from the starting lineup in favor of the aging yet talented midfield trio of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and Park Ji-Sung. Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to go with experience over the youthful talents of Valencia, Young, and Welbeck may have worked against him, as Manchester City thoroughly dominated the midfield for much of the game thanks to the tireless work of Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry anchoring the midfield. For long periods of the match, Premier League leading scorer Wayne Rooney was lacking support in attack, and it showed on the stat sheet, with Manchester United failing to register a shot on target during the match.
After an early yellow card from Vincent Kompany, the first half settled into a relatively tame affair given the circumstances, with both teams attempting to poke and prod their way through the opposing defense. Sergio Aguero was relentless in his attempts running at and around the United defense, but his finishing touch was lacking, and he was denied repeated chances to earn a goal in six consecutive games. City’s repeated attacking efforts were rewarded just before half time when they earned a pair of corner kicks. David Silva’s second corner found Vincent Kompany who rose above the United defense to head home the deciding goal. As the captain Kompany celebrated jubilantly, the Ethiad Stadium erupted with applause that United would have to wait until after the break to silence.
After being sent out of the changing room quite early by Sir Alex Ferguson, United responded by having several scoring opportunities thwarted by City’s defense. The ensuing corners came to nothing for United and it began to look as if United would not take away anything from this match, as a result they turned up the pressure. Rooney and Nani began piling the pressure on Manchester City and the introduction of Danny Welbeck for Park Ji-Sung gave United a new attacking option that they quickly utilized.
United appeared to be in the ascendency before the introduction of Nigel de Jong for Carlos Tevez. The Dutchman’s introduction brought the beginning of a new period of the game, because just two minutes later Phil Jones was booked for bringing down Gareth Barry. This was the first in a string of incidents that would climax with both managers exchanging words along the technical area and having to be separated by their assistants.
Just after Jones’ yellow card, Yaya Toure and Paul Scholes appeared to exchange words and Toure called for Scholes to be booked, but play resumed without incident. De Jong made an impact with his trademark devastating style with a tackle from behind on Danny Welbeck. This incident was the spark that caused the managers to come together and conclude with Roberto Mancini’s pantomiming as the two were separated. Just after the incident, Sergio Aguero nearly put the game out of reach, but only found side netting. The dirty play would conclude with Michael Carrick receiving a yellow card for a late tackle on Gareth Barry and play carried on. Valencia was introduced for Scholes just before Yaya Toure almost found the net with a left footed effort that hit the stanchion behind the goal.
Micah Richards replaced David Silva for City while Ashley Young took over for Nani as the managers exchanged their tactical jabs for the final ten minutes. City enjoyed a pair of opportunities in the final 5 minutes of regulation, but Clichy’s shot from the edge of the area was stopped by De Gea. Samir Nasri made an excellent run beating two defenders, but when the time came to shoot he could not pull the trigger and was dispossessed. Five additional minutes were added to the match and the referees signaled for a final City substitution, James Milner was introduced for the gun-shy Nasri. Over the last several minutes, United enjoyed a couple half chances and a corner that was scrambled away by Joe Hart as he was fouled.
When the final whistle blew, the Ethiad immediately exploded into applause and “Blue Moon” could be heard echoing throughout the stadium. As it currently stands, City are in the driver’s seat for the final two fixtures and two wins will likely ensure their place in history as Premier League champions. However, with a difficult upcoming test against Newcastle, their fate has not been sealed.