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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
December 9, 2012
• 8:30 AM
• Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Referee: M. Atkinson
• Attendance: 47166
Y. Touré 60'
P. Zabaleta 86'
W. Rooney 16', 29'
R. van Persie 90'+
There are simply too many talking points from that match to go into detail here, which is why you should stay with Goal.com and read our match report, player ratings and all the reaction from players and managers to follow shortly. I've been Tom J Doyle, this has been a classic Manchester derby, and thank you for joining me. Have a great afternoon.
Well, that's what the Premier League was all about. Goals, tantrums, twists and turns galore as Sir Alex Ferguson will be delighted with the result. Either side could have won it at the death, but when you sign somebody of Van Persie's quality, you know he can always find a winner - well, with a little help from Nasri of course.
What. A. Game. A magical display at the Etihad as Manchester United beat rivals Manchester City 3-2 to go six points clear at the top of the Premier League, courtesy of a late winner from talisman Robin van Persie, who was a target for both clubs in the summer. You couldn't make it up.
90' + 5'
Yellow Card Phil Jones
90' + 5'
Yellow Card Gareth Barry
90' + 5'
Tempers are spilling over here and Tevez is very lucky to still be on as he lashes out - and that's it, United win this one!
90' + 4'
Rooney wins a free kick in his own half after bouncing off of Barry, and that could be that - a stunning end to a stunning game...
90' + 3'
Ferdinand is bleeding, and it's unclear what happened to the defender - some fans may have been on the pitch, but we'll bring you more as it comes to us.
90' + 2'
Goal Robin van Persie
UNITED GET THE WINNER!!! Van Persie curls in a free-kick at goal from the right-hand side, and Nasri stuck out a leg to flick the ball past Joe Hart into the far corner. What a game!
90' + 1'
Now Tevez curls an effort in low to De Gea's left, but the keeper holds on to the tame effort. Tevez then clips Rafael 30 yards out and United could win it from a free kick here...
Silva drives a low shot at goal from 16 yards which De Gea does well to hold into. Can either side find a valuable winner with four minutes of injury time to play here?
Yellow Card Carlos Tévez
Zabaleta has grown in confidence during this half, and gets down the right well to cross - but Ferdinand is there to meet the cross. Welbeck is on for Cleverley, which is a slightly odd call from Ferguson. Perhaps he thinks the youngster's pace can help his side sneak a winner?
Now United look shaky in their own area as De Gea has to spoon the ball high up into the air after a horrible back pass. City look like they can win this one now.
Goal Pablo Zabaleta
EQUALISER FOR CITY!!! Tevez swings in a corner, and Zabaleta is all alone on the edge of the box, and he drives a brilliant low effort into the corner of David de Gea's net - you'd be forgiven for thinking that was Paul Scholes. Five minutes to go, and it's anybody's game now!
Yaya Toure makes way for Dzeko, and Phil Jones is on for Valencia, who seemed to pick up an injury in a challenge with Zabaleta.
Both sides are trading turns to attack here, but the players are looking a little tired. Tevez lashes a volley on the turn over the bar - good effort but it weas always speculative. Now then, is it time for a City super sub perhaps?
10 minutes to go at the Etihad, and as things stand, United are going clear at the top of the Premier League by six points. But if City have proved anything to us last season, it's not over until the final whistle...
Silva hits the bar! The Spain midfielder beats Evra in the area with a cute turn and shoots from the edge of the six-yard box, and the ball cannons off of De Gea's shoulder onto the crossbar and over for a corner. The keeper didn't know too much about it, but United survive.
Rooney finds Cleverley on the left wing, and the midfielder clips a ball in for Van Persie - but the Dutchman can only head over. Meanwhile...
Tevez wins a corner for his side - his energy has been the difference for City in this half, which begs the question as to why Mancini didn't start him up alongside Aguero.
Yellow Card Yaya Touré
Kolo Toure misses at the back post, but he's flagged offside anyway. And now Yaya Toure gets a yellow for dumping Cleverley on the ground - that has to hurt. In fact, both players are hurt, with Toure seemingly worse off.
Yellow Card Wayne Rooney
Frustration for City here as Yaya Toure breaks down the left wing, but the referee calls back play to book Rooney for trying to hack the midfielder down. That was a nailed-on yellow card as he should perhaps have been carded in the first couple of minutes, but Atkinson should've let play continue.
Smalling wants De Gea to come and collect as he battles Aguero, but the Spaniard retreats and the defender has to see the ball out. He's not happy with his keeper there, and a little more confidence is needed from the young shot-stopper in these last 20 minutes.
Good work from Gareth Barry to head away close to goal as Valencia put in an inviting cross from the right - and Evra fluffs the header from the resultant corner. Big chance for the defender there.
Now it's Evra's turn to get a little risky in his own box as he scuffles with Tevez as the striker shapes to shoot - to his credit the Argentine stays on his feet and dribbles a shot to De Gea, but he could potentially have gone down there.
Well, you've definitely seen them given - Kolo Toure really showed his lack of game time there as he clumsily barged into Evra in his own box, and was a little lucky he didn't give away a penalty as he took all of the man and nine of the ball. Anywhere else on the pitch and it would've been a definite free kick.
Aguero breaks into the United box, but is foiled by a combination of Smalling and Ferdinand, who will have to stand firm for the rest of this game.
Evra goes down under a shove from Kolo Toure in the area, and United's players are livid with Martin Atkinson, who dismisses the claims. More on that as and when...
Yellow Card Rio Ferdinand
Well, moments after United should have been 3-0 up, Yaya Toure has gotten his team back into this one - we should be set up for a fantastic final 30 minutes, and it's end-to-end at the moment. Really exciting stuff, and the home crowd are fully behind their team now.
Assist Carlos Tévez
Goal Yaya Touré
CITY SCORE!!! It could be a massive decision by the linesman as Yaya Toure halves United's lead with a cool finish. David de Gea denied Aguero twice superbly from close range, but the Argentine forward found the Ivorian who finished into the bottom-right corner from 12 yards. Game on - but it should really be over after Young's wrongly disallowed effort.
United have the ball in the net, but Young is offside. Van Persie did brilliantly to curl an effort at goal and the ball rebounded off the far post, with Young finishing the rebound, but replays show he was onside - how big a call is that....
City want this now. Nasri breaks on the right and searches for Aguero at the back post, but Ferdinand does brilliantly to toe the ball out for a corner with the Argentine lurking to finish on the slide. The corner comes to nothing as Kolo Toure mistimes his jump.
Aguero tries to curl in an effort into the top corner from 20 yards, but it's wide of David de Gea's left-hand post. City broke well there through Clichy on the wing, but Aguero really should have tried to find Silva instead of shooting.
Yellow Card Samir Nasri
Nasri picks up a booking for presumably talking back to referee Atkinson - the France international cuts a frustrated figure at the moment.
Valencia works the ball down the right and crosses low into the area, and Cleverley fires an effort over on the stretch. The change has come, and Balotelli makes way for Tevez, with the Italian going straight down the tunnel. Can the Argentine turn the game against his former club?
Smalling does indeed replace Evans, who has played well today - the young England centre-back hasn't been in the best form after returning from injury, so it's a big game for him today.
Balotelli tries a back-heel that doesn't come off and the home supporters are angry with the forward - you sense that now's perhaps not a time to be trying fancy flicks 40 yards from goal. Mancini looks disgusted as he has sent Tevez to warm up in response.
The corner comes to nothing - and just a minute into the second half Smalling is ready to come on, as Evans still looks to be struggling with that leg injury.
We're off again here - can the Premier League champions show some spirit and battle back against their rivals? They've got an early corner here, so let's hope so...
It'll also be interesting to know what Sir Alex Ferguson will be telling his players to do for the second 45 minutes. United are two goals up and they've been so devastating on the counter that there will be a temptation to simply sit back and invite pressure, but that may offer City their route back into the game. Decisions, decisions - it's moments like these in which matches, and titles, can be won or lost.
Well, what exactly can Roberto Mancini say to his players to get a reaction? Since Kompany left the pitch, they look completely brittle at the back, with no communication or confidence. Truth be told, United look the more likely side to add further goals to this tie. However, there's a reason why they are Premier League champions, and they surely have too much quality to let this match slide by with a whimper.
That's half-time, and United probably can't believe their luck at being 2-0 up after being on the back foot for the first 15 minutes. However, a goal from Rooney and the withdrawal of captain Kompany have totally changed this match around, and the Red Devils look in complete control after the England striker added a second.
45' + 1'
What is wrong with City? They clear the ball, Barry heads the ball back into the area, nobody reacts (especially the hesitant Nasri), and Nastasic hoofs the ball up in the air. Moments later Hart has to rush out to the right wing to stop Young collecting it. They look so poor at the back right now.
Two added minutes, and United have a throw deep in City's half - can they press for a third here?
Balotelli slots the ball through for Aguero in the penalty area, and he goes down as Ferdinand gets across to the striker, but there was no foul despite the reaction from the crowd. United will have a great chance of the points if they can get into the break 2-0 up.
Great chance for Barry! Zabaleta throws it to Silva, who finds Balotelli on the penalty spot. The Italian lays the ball off to the England midfielder, but he screws his effort wide from 20 yards. It was a free shot at goal, and he really should have at least tested De Gea from there.
Van Persie twists and turns 20 yards out but his effort on goal is blocked, and the ball runs through to Hart. The Dutch striker pokes out a toe to try and get something on it, but the England keeper collects. City just don't look anything like the same team that started the half.
Young wins a free kick outside his own area from Zabaleta - the England winger has frustrated and delighted in equal measure during his time at Old Trafford, but has been superb today.
Mancini looked shell-shocked by the goal, and so well he should. Rafael had a free cross as he simply moseyed past Valencia on the overlap, and Rooney had the simplest of unmarked finishes - that just wouldn't have happened had Kompany been on the pitch.
United are beginning to toy with City here, and look dangerous every time they get near City's goal. The crowd are quiet, and Ferguson will want his side to press home their advantage before half-time. Mancini's men look a little bereft of ideas.
City are beginning to fall apart at the back in the absence of Kompany. Rooney is almost in again but the ball is cleared as he shapes to shoot from inside the area, and Cleverley blasts the rebound over the bar.
Rooney now has 10 goals in Manchester derby games - he was one behind Sir Bobby Charlton's record before the game, and now leads the charts. What a day for the striker so far.
Goal Wayne Rooney
UNITED ARE 2-0 UP!!! It's Rooney's second of the game, and his 150th in the Premier League. Valencia and Rafael combine well on the right wing, and the Brazilian gets to the byline to whip in a low cross for Rooney, who meets it unmarked from eight yards to finish coolly past Hart. Could this be another 6-1?
Yaya Toure does well to burst from his own half and flies past Carrick and Rafael before taking a tumble which the referee simply waved play-on to - the Ivory Coast international can consider himself a little lucky not to pick up a yellow card for diving there.
After City's bright start, they've lost the lead and their captain in a tough five-minute spell. Can they battle back into this one without their leader?
Chance for Aguero! He walks through about four or five challenges in the centre and eventually finds himself in the United box, but instead of blasting it, he tries to roll it past De Gea - but the Spanish keeper dives to his right to collect the tame finish. Poor after such determined work from the Argentine.
Kompany has to come off, and he looks like one angry man - and United look full of confidence here as Young is through on goal, but Hart does well to clear the bouncing ball. What a turnaround here.
Big news in both defences - Kolo Toure is ready to come on as captain Kompany looks set to be substituted through injury, while Jonny Evans is struggling after that challenge by Balotelli. This will be a huge loss for the champions.
Well, City did all the early work, and United score on their first attack. In truth Rooney mishit the ball, but Hart was unsighted by his defenders, and the ball rolled agonisingly into the corner for City fans. Now we've got a game on our hands!
Assist Ashley Young
Goal Wayne Rooney
GOAL!!! Rooney puts United 1-0 up completely against the run of play. Van Persie and Young linked well on the left, with the England winger surging forward before feeding Rooney in the centre. The striker controlled the ball and found the bottom-right corner of Joe Hart's net from 20 yards - the ball almost trickled in, and the keeper made no attempt for it, but it's United who lead.
Yaya Toure dances past Carrick and feeds Balotelli on the right - the Italian tries to beat Evans but the defender wins the ball easily and invites the challenge, which the striker dutifully makes. It was clumsy, and he gets a talking to - that was a classic case of an opponent knowing how to get Balotelli angry, and the forward really has to learn not to retaliate.
City have another corner now - United have conceded 10 goals from set pieces in the Premier League already...and De Gea drops the ball! Not great from the keeper, but no City player was on hand to punish the mistake.
Chance for Baotelli! Silva found Clichy's clever run in behind on the left and the defender did well to reach the floated pass, and pulled the ball back into the centre - but Balotelli could only volley very, very high. It was difficult, but it was still a chance for the Italian.
Van Persie finally has the ball, but can't hold onto it - he may have to be patient in terms of waiting for chances today.
United have barely had the ball here, but are coping with City at the moment, with Evra making a few good challenges on Nasri - it'll be a good battle between the France pair, who haven't shown the best form over the past year or so.
Really nice flicks from Zabaleta, Balotelli and Nasri on the right wing there - City have started this game with confidence, and are doing all the early pressing.
Balotelli fires in the free kick low under the wall and De Gea gets down well to tip the ball wide. It looked like it was going wide but the Spaniard couldn't be sure - not the best defensive work in the wall from Young.
It really is getting heated - Gael Clichy goes through Valencia and United want a free kick, but Atkinson waves play-on and Ferdinand brings down Aguero as the striker bore down on goal. Complaints everywhere, but the referee has handled things well so far.
Rooney commits two fouls in 15 seconds and the next one will surely see him go into Martin Atkinson's book - that's rash from the striker, and he should really know better by now.
Balotelli is almost in on goal as Rio Ferdinand tries to clear but misses the ball, but Jonny Evans is on hand to clear before the Italian gets going. The England centre-back will need to be on top form today.
And we're off! United get us underway, and Evra lofts a ball out of play straight away - not a great start there, Patrice. Carrick goes in hard straight through Aguero and the Argentine is down - this should be a feisty one.
Captains Vincent Kompany and Patrice Evra shake hands at the centre circle with the officials, and we're about ready to go here...
The teams are out on the pitch ready to shake hands, and the crows is in fine voice - games like these are what the Premier League is all about, so let's hope the derby lives up to its billing.
According to unconfirmed reports, Anders Lindegaard misses out today as his wife has gone into labour - all the best to the Lindegaards today then, and David de Gea will also be chuffed as he starts today.
Just under 10 minutes till kick-off, and while today's result may not decide the fate of the title, last year's games between the sides showed just how much a few goals can mean over 38 games. United's 6-1 defeat to City at Old Trafford meant a 10-goal swing and could be seen as pivotal point in the title race, but whatever happens today, it's still all to play for. I can't wait.
Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall are at the game to lend it some more star quality - let's hope we don't see any acting from the players (I truly apologise for that one).
Despite the talent on the pitch, the game could well be decided from the benches. City have super sub Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez to come on in search of goals, while United can call on youngsters Danny Welbeck and Chicharito, with the Mexican in fine form of late.
Looking at City's middle, it could well be a tough day for Carrick and Cleverley. Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure will form a wall in the centre, while the attacking talents of Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero and David Silva will be a massive danger to the away side. Toure will charge forward at will anyway, so Rooney will need to track him diligently.
Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney are starting up top for the visitors, although the England striker will surely drop off and support the midfield as City look to dominate possession. Ferguson has gone with the pace of Rafael at right-back as opposed to the height of Chris Smalling, so it looks like the Old Trafford boss is going for the win today.
For United, Ferguson has gone with an attacking line-up, with an energetic midfield of Antonio Valencia, Tom Cleverley, Michael Carrick and Ashley Young. It's a huge statement of faith in young Cleverley's talents, but to be honest, the manager doesn't have too many other viable options in the middle either.
It's a massive call from Roberto Mancini to start with the controversial Italian striker, but as he proved last season at Old Trafford, he has the appetite for games like these - whether he can keep his cool is another matter entirely though...
Manchester United starting XI: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Cleverley, Carrick, Young; Rooney, Van Persie. Subs: Johnstone, Jones, Smalling, Giggs, Scholes, Hernandez, Welbeck.
The team news is in, and Mario Balotelli starts up front for the hosts! Manchester City starting XI: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Yaya Toure, Barry; Nasri, Aguero, Silva; Balotelli. Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Maicon, Kolo Toure, Garcia, Tevez, Dzeko.
Good afternoon - I'm Tom J Doyle and welcome to the LIVE commentary of Manchester City - Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium. It's fair to say games don't come much bigger than this, and we should be in for a cracker today. The Red Devils are three points clear at the top of the league, but the Premier League champions will go top on goal difference if they win today.
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