Man City 0-0 Man Utd
Manchester City and Manchester United huffed and puffed on derby day at Eastlands but ultimately cancelled each other out in a forgettable goalless draw.
Unsurprisingly, ahead of one of the most eagerly-anticipated derbies of modern times, the ground was buzzing before kick-off, with much more than three points at stake.
Paul Scholes, a seasoned campaigner when it comes to such occasions but a hopeless tackler, set the tone inside the opening 30 seconds as he conceded the first of many clumsy fouls which blighted the game.
His lazy challenge was in keeping with United's start as City, led by the energetic Carlos Tevez, opened much the brighter.
It did not take the Red Devils long, though, to find their feet and Nani produced the first shot on target after 14 minutes when he fired a 35-yard free-kick straight at Joe Hart.
Michael Carrick was the next to try his luck for the visitors, but his radar was way off as he sliced wildly into the stands.
United were controlling proceedings by this stage and a surging run from Patrice Evra, which saw him combine cleverly with Park Ji-sung, forced another comfortable save from Hart.
City were offering little as an attacking force, much to the annoyance of Roberto Mancini and his coaching staff, and a flurry of corners came and went without testing Edwin van der Sar.
The Dutchman was, however, called into action on 35 minutes when Tevez sent a 30-yard free-kick arching towards the top corner, with the 40-year-old belying his advancing years to claw the ball to safety.
Dimitar Berbatov failed to control a difficult volley as the half wore on, before Scholes picked up his fifth booking of the season for a foul on James Milner to rule him out of United's trip to Aston Villa on Saturday.
On the stroke of half-time tempers flared as Rafael and Tevez exchanged pleasantries, with Brazil/Argentina rivalries stoking the derby flames, offering hope to those inside the ground that the second period may have a bit more bite about it.
Unfortunately for Rafael, his involvement lasted just four more minutes as a thigh problem saw him replaced by Wes Brown shortly after the restart.
There was more urgency about the game now, though, and Nani came close to linking up with Darren Fletcher at one stage, only to be crowded out once inside the box.
Berbatov then had the away support on their feet, well those who were not already standing, when he hooked an acrobatic volley into the grateful arms of Hart.
City responded in turn with Tevez cutting inside and drilling a tame effort down the throat of Van der Sar.
Fletcher thought he had stolen in behind on 65 minutes, following a slick one-two with Berbatov, but the linesman's flag stopped him in his tracks and bailed City out of a hole.
Moments later United saw their second full-back of the night hobble off, with Evra forced to make way for John O'Shea - giving Sir Alex Ferguson an unwelcome injury headache.
The Red Devils then collected their second caution on 72 minutes as Brown clattered into Milner, leading to the City ace being replaced by Adam Johnson.
Both sides were creating virtually nothing by now, with the game having become a war of attrition.
As a result, Ferguson and Mancini attempted to freshen things up, with Javier Hernandezintroduced in place of Berbatov and Alexsandar Kolarov handed a home debut for City as he came on for Jerome Boateng.
The new arrivals made little impact, though, with defences remaining very much on top.
With time ticking away the challenge was put to both sides to raise their game and snatch a winner, but the desire to avoid defeat continued to outweigh attacking ambition.
Pablo Zabaleta almost made himself the most unlikely of heroes four minutes from time but, having collected a fortunate ricochet, he could only lift a curling left-footed effort high over the crossbar.
Carrick had Hart worried for a moment in the final minute, as a deflected shot left him wrong-footed, but the ball drifted wide of the post.
Hernandez then saw a stinging effort blocked by a courageous challenge by Kolo Toure, as the contest entered four minutes of stoppage-time.
The final act saw Tevez replaced by Emmanuel Adebayor, but he was given no time in which to make an impression.
A point, coupled with Chelsea's win against Fulham, leaves United four points off the pace while City remain in fourth spot.
Latest Forum Comments
A good point given circumstances. We could/should have nicked it but i'd have taken a draw at the start. Hernandez made a huge impact when he came on. Passing tempo was cranked up a few notches and City reacted by camping in their area. If only Wes had delivered a decent cross in those last 5 minutes. Carrick was superb. His comments recently about trying to play through an achilles problem last year could well explain his sudden return to form. I now suffer from achilles tendinitis and attempted to play through it initially, terrible idea. Carrick will have been struggling to walk pain-free let alone run for large parts of last season. p.s. I've just skimmed through a few newspaper match reports. Carrick only got 5 out of 10 in the Sun. Laughable. p.p.s The picture of Rio and Tevez in the papers today is well worth a look.- Bragg
At half time I was furious, we looked awful and a total mess. They were more up for it commitment wise just not ability wise. Second half it all changed. We played them off the park and their fans were furious mancini was so negative. It is not suprising we did not score- Rooney out, Nani unfit, berba back to hsi usual self - I wish Hernandez had played longer as he was excellent and upped the tempo. Moral victory for us but worrying we did not score, and more worrying Chelsea won againm, with us having a very tough fixture list ahead.- Oli
Carrick looks much much better....- Zain
Bringing on a striker in stoppage time to disrupt our momentum summed up their attitude completely.- John
Rooney aside, that's our best XI, and everyone played as well as could be expected. City set up not to lose and got what they wanted, they rarely threatened and I was surprised how much of the ball we actually had, a shame we couldn't have nicked it this time.- fenwar
With a line-up like that there'll be no excuse for not giving them a right good game.- John
Strong line up...game on!- Bragg
Me too!- Oli
Il take a draw...- Munsterman
I'm not very optimistic about this, and I don't expect more than a point from here. I hope we get that, at least!- Abner
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