By Chris Wright
Well. That was all rather exciting wasn’t it? Manchester United rushed into a three-nil lead against 10-man City at the Etihad in the third round of the FA Cup at the Etihad yesterday afternoon, only to have the frighteners put on them when City rallied and pulled two goals back during an intense second half.
Wayne Rooney put United ahead in the tenth minute with a perfect, nigh-on unstoppable header before City captain Vincent Kompany was sent-off for an exquisitely timed and executed tackle on Nani just a few moments later. To play Foy’s Advocate for a moment, I can see why Kompany’s lunge gave the impression of a two-footed scissor in real time, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that it was completely and utterly the wrong decision on the referee’s part.
As I saw it, Kompany went in with a solid block using his right foot/leg, and purposefully dangled his left behind Nani so as not to make contact with the United player. I have faith in Vincent. He’s far too conscientious and gifted a centre-half to go in that recklessly. The fact that Nani didn’t even react to the challenge made the decision even more baffling. Ah well, these things happen. City are appealing and I
expect hope that the dismissal will be overturned.
An outrageous volley from Danny Welbeck and a penalty converted at the second attempt from Rooney had United 3-0 up at the interval, before Aleksandar Kolarov pulled one back a few minutes after the restart with a deft free-kick from the edge of the area.
Paul Scholes then came on (yep, that Paul Scholes – the 37-year old, recently retired Paul Scholes) to sure things up on the hour mark – what that says about Sir Alex’s faith in Anderson I’m not sure – only to haemorrhage possession and watch on as Sergio Aguero poked home his own fumbled shot to reduce the deficit with 25 minutes left to play.
City then took to sniping United on the counter-attack for the remainder and came close to equalising several times, seeing a ‘Stonewall Penalty™’ (©Alan Hansen) turned down and another direct Kolarov free-kick frantically scrambled to safety after Lindegaard could only shovel it out into a crowded six-yard box seconds before the final whistle shrilled around the Etihad.
T’was pure sporting entertainment of the highest order and, while we’re on the subject, United got drawn against Liverpool in the fourth round – which should be interesting.