City ultimately went down 3-2 at home to their bitter rivals despite a spirited second-half comeback, having been forced to play with 10 men for almost 80 minutes following Kompany’s dismissal for a two-footed tackle on United winger Nani.
After the match Richards revealed he felt the decision was the decisive moment of the game, coming as it did when he believed City were dominating proceedings in spite of going behind to a towering Wayne Rooney header early on.
“First and foremost, I think the decision [to send Kompany off] killed the whole game,” Richards told the club’s official website.
“We’ve watched it 10, 20 times and it’s the same outcome every time – it’s never a red card.
“In the first 10 minutes we were battering them and having all the play.
“To be fair to United, they looked good on the counter and got the first goal, but we were still in charge of the game. It’s decisions which have cost us today.”
United’s blistering first-half display raised fears among the City faithful of a reverse of the famous 6-1 victory they enjoyed at Old Trafford back in October, but instead their team rallied after the break, pulling the score back to 3-2 and even threatening a late equaliser.
Richards credits his team’s stirring comeback to a change of tactics at the interval, combined with the desire of City’s players not to be humiliated at home by their bitter rivals.
“We changed the formation at half-time and put five at the back, kept it solid and when we got the chance to go forward, we did it together.
“We dug in and thought ‘This is our home, we want to give it 100 per cent and show the fans why they pay their money every week’. I think we showed them what we can do today.
“We were disappointed not to get a result in the end, but it was an unbelievable effort from the boys.”
City’s desperate efforts to find an equaliser late on saw Richards attempt a spectacular bicycle kick which, had it come off, would have drawn comparison to Rooney’s brilliant winner in last season’s Premier League clash between the two sides at Old Trafford.
Unfortunately for Richards and for City, the defender’s audacity was not rewarded with a goal, but after the match the 23-year-old was able to see the funny side.
“If I’d have got that one in I would have done the same celebration as Rooney did to us!” he joked.
“But it wasn’t meant to be. The boys gave everything and that’s all we could ask for today.”
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