Manchester City reached the FA Cup Final for the first time in 30 years with victory over derby rivals Manchester United at Wembley.
Yaya Toure demonstrated power and poise to take advantage of Michael Carrick’s mistake to score after 52 minutes and set up another Wembley date against either Bolton Wanderers or Stoke City in May.
United controlled the first half-hour and Dimitar Berbatov – in for the suspended Wayne Rooney – missed two golden chances in the space of seconds early on.
And United, who had Paul Scholes sent off late on for a wild challenge on Pablo Zabaleta, paid the price as City finally gathered momentum to end as deserved winners and sabotage Sir Alex Ferguson’s hopes of repeating the historic treble-winning season of 1999.
City threatened through Mario Balotelli, Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany before Toure made the breakthrough, with United’s only serious second-half response a deflected free-kick from Nani that keeper Joe Hart touched on to the bar.
It was a remarkable turnaround in fortunes and form for City and boss Roberto Mancini, who responded to an abject showing in the 3-0 defeat at Liverpool on Monday by insisting they would reach the FA Cup final and also next season’s Champions League.
He fulfilled the first part of his bold promise in style and now City and Mancini can focus their attentions fully on finishing ahead of Tottenham in the fight for a place in the Premier League’s top four.
Balotelli was involved in an angry flare-up with Rio Ferdinand and Anderson at the final whistle after jubilantly brandishing his badge in the direction of United’s fans, but nothing could take the edge off the wild celebrations from the City supporters who have waited so long to step out of the shadow of their illustrious neighbours.
Both sides were robbed of their most influential players, but ultimately City coped with the loss of injured Carlos Tevez better than United handled the gap left by Rooney – they now have a month to relish their return to the great showpiece after a lengthy absence following their loss to Tottenham in a replay in 1981.
In Rooney’s absence, Ferguson turned to Berbatov and the Bulgarian twice squandered opportunities to transform United’s early domination into an advantage.
Scholes red made comeback difficult – Nani
He raced clean through on Hart after United put together a slick passing exchange on the edge of the lokasi but the keeper blocked brilliantly, then somehow turned Nani’s cross over the top from inside the six-yard lokasi seconds later.
City’s opening had been subdued as United dominated possession but as the interval approached they finally demonstated a measure of self-belief and threat.
Gareth Barry found the side-netting after turning in the lokasi then Balotelli gave Edwin Van der Sar the chance to demonstrate his agility, even at 40, with a long-range effort that was turned over the top by the veteran keeper.
And as City drew encouragement from their spell of pressure, Lescott should have done better than fire off target from Adam Johnson’s corner and Kompany was only inches wide from the edge of the area.
City’s renewed self-belief saw them continue in similar vein after the break and take the lead through Toure after 52 minutes.
Carrick was at fault, conceding possession then being brushed aside by Toure, who raced past Nemanja Vidic before slotting a composed finish past Van der Sar.
As United struggled to regain their composure, Johnson’s shot almost crept in at Van der Sar’s near post and Lescott was once more guilty of wastefulness when he tamely headed David Silva’s cross wide.
Ferguson reacted to falling behind by sending on Javier Hernandez for Antonio Valencia. He arrived in time to watch Hart turn Nani’s free-kick on to the bar after it glanced off the head of Balotelli.
United were deservedly reduced to 10 men with 17 minutes left when Scholes was high and late in a challenge with Zabaleta, leaving referee Mike Dean to produce a red card that was little more than a formality.
It was effectively the end of United’s challenge and City were able to survive five minutes of added time before a party started in one half of Wembley.
Saturday, 16 April 2011
The FA Cup
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