The FA Cup Semi-Finals 2011
Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United
Full match coverage - www.TheFA.com/TheFACup
Manchester City reached their first FA Cup Final since 1981 after they beat ten-man neighbours United 1-0 in the Semi-Final at Wembley Stadium.
Midfielder Yaya Toure scored the winner on 52 minutes after picking up a loose ball by Michael Carrick just outside the United box and then slotting it coolly between Edwin Van der Sar’s legs.
Paul Scholes was sent off 20 minutes later for a foul on Pablo Zabaleta and Scholes’ numerically disadvantaged team-mates were unable to muster a comeback against their nearest and dearest rivals.
City can now look forward to Saturday 14 May when they will face either Bolton Wanderers or Stoke City, who play in the second Semi-Final tomorrow, while United must now concentrate on the Premier League and UEFA Champions League.
After an uneventful opening, bar the vocal offerings from a fervent 86,000-strong crowd, City winger Adam Johnson registered the game’s first attempt at goal but the ball zipped wide of Van der Sar’s left-hand post.
While that shot might have settled a City side playing at the new Wembley for the first time, it actually appeared to rouse their opponents because moments later an intricate passing move from United brought the best out of England goalkeeper Joe Hart.
The ball was quickly shared between Carrick, Scholes and Ji-Sung Park on the edge of the City area before the South Korean slipped a well weighted ball to Dimitar Berbatov, but Hart raced off his line to foil the Bulgarian.
The ball went out for a throw-in which Patrice Evra took quickly, finding Nani, and his cross found a sliding Berbatov but he somehow contrived to nudge the ball over from only a few yards out.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had slowly gained the upper hand but only had a couple of headers, from captain Nemanja Vidic and Berbatov, to show for their slight supremacy. But City came again and had three good chances in quick succession.
Just after the half-hour mark, an in-swinging David Silva cross from the right found Mario Balotelli in the United box. The Italian couldn’t get the ball under full control but Gareth Barry reacted quickest to the loose ball, swivelled and shot left-footed into the side netting. Half of the City fans on the opposite side of the Stadium thought it was in, much to the delight of their neighbours’ followers.
Balotelli then cracked a decent effort from distance which Van der Sar did well to punch over his bar, before Joleon Lescott volleyed over from an Aleksandar Kolarov corner minutes later.
As half-time approached, the Dutch goalkeepers’ side netting came into play again when City captain Vincent Kompany curled narrowly wide from 20 yards.
Roberto Mancini’s carried this momentum into the second half and they took the lead just seven minutes after the restart. A poor clearance from Van der Sar eventually found itself at the feet of Carrick, via Silva and John O'Shea, but the midfielder conceded possession to Toure 25 yards from goal. The Ivorian accepted the loose pass meant for Scholes, burst forward, side stepped past Vidic and slid the ball between Van der Sar’s legs to send the City faithful wild behind that goal.
Now on top, the ‘Citizens’ should have doubled their advantage just after the hour when Silva’s cross, from Johnson’s short corner, was met by Lescott but the centre-back headed wide.
He was almost left to rue this miss moments later after Zabaleta was booked for a foul on Park. Nani struck the subsequent free-kick sweetly, but Hart excelled himself once more and tipped the ball onto the bar.
After that scare, the game really swung back in City’s favour when Scholes received a straight red from referee Mike Dean for a foul on Zabaleta. The Argentine defender and his team-mates now had just 18 minutes to hold United at bay with a one-man advantage.
Carrick tried to make amends for his part in the City goal, but his left-foot curler produced only a comfortable catch from Hart. Substitute Javier Hernandez, on for Valencia, then had a shot blocked by Kompany as the Reds began to pour forward in search of the equaliser. Evra also tried his luck with an angled left-foot shot but it went wide.
As the clocked ticked towards 90-minute mark, Balotelli, Toure and substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips, on for Johnson, were City’s only outlets up top as their remaining eight players were left to defend their one-goal lead, but defend it they did and after five gut-wrenching added minutes from a City point of view, Dean blew his whistle to confirm the Sky Blues' place in May's showpiece.