The FA Community Shield
7 Aug 2011 - 2:30 PM
Manchester City 2 - 3 Manchester United
Manchester United completed a stunning fightback to clinch The FA Community Shield at Wembley, coming from two down at half-time to beat their City rivals.
Joleon Lescott had headed Roberto Mancini's team into the lead after half an hour, and against the run of play they took a two-goal advantage when Edin Dzeko struck from distance. But United proved once again they are at their most dangerous when seemingly beaten, with Chris Smalling and a brace from man of the match Nani completing the comeback.
United had made a fast start with the counter attacking options of Young, Nani, Rooney and Welbeck causing City a number of concerns in the opening ten minutes. Young saw the clearest chance after just three minutes, but a deflection saw his shot go wide for a corner. From the resulting deliver Nani and Smalling both had opportunities to shoot but neither troubled Joe Hart's goal.
City created problems of their own with Richards typically providing energy on the right flank, his cross was aimed for the Bosnian striker but Vidic got their first and turned ball behind for a corner.
No one expected it to be a friendly affair with the rivalry between these two clubs, and three players went into Phil Dowd's book inside the opening quarter of the game. Vidic and Balotelli were the first to enliven the game with a coming together, but when Anderson and Dzeko squared off they both received yellow cards. Micah Richards then went in late on England teammate Ashley Young and also went into the book.
Moments after it was the more aesthetic side of play that took over. Nani, Welbeck and Evra combined to produce a flowing move midway through the first half, passing their way through the City midfield and defence, only the final ball was lacking from the England forward as he looked for Nani underneath the posts.
Despite the early chances for United, it was the blue half of Wembley that cheered the opening goal. Joleon Lescott rose highest to glance home a superbly delivered free-kick from David Silva. For all the possession and time spent in the final third, United found themselves trailing to City at Wembley just as they did in The FA Cup Semi-Final in April.
If that came against the run of play, then City's second strike came like a bolt from the blue. Edin Dzeko picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and let fly with a speculative low effort that flew into the net. David De Gea, United's new signing from Athletico Madrid, will not be happy with himself however as despite the pace of the shot it crossed the line fairly close to the Spanish Under-21 stopper.
Sir Alex Ferguson reacted at half-time by introducing three of his younger charges, including summer signing Phil Jones. Vidic went off for the Blackburn defender, while Jonny Evans came on for Ferdinand and Tom Cleverley replaced Michael Carrick.
United hit back inside seven minutes, a curling free-kick from Young was met perfectly by the unmarked Chris Smalling who prodded past a helpless Joe Hart. It was little more than United deserved for all their dominance, but Roberto Mancini may question how the United defender found so much space in front of goal.
Just six minutes later and United were level with a goal of sheer quality. Substitute Cleverley combined with Rooney and Welbeck before Nani completed a truly stunning move with a chip over the advancing Joe Hart.
Manchester City rarely troubled David De Gea in the period that followed, but United's flowing football continued despite the average of the team reducing with every substition. When Rafael Da Silva took the captain's armband from Patrice Evra one might have assumed it the exuberance of youth, but scouring the rest of the team only Rooney could have significantly greater claim to the armband on experience and stature.
The introduction of livewire Adam Johnson saw a burst of life, and a rasping left-footed effort was beaten away by De Gea as a signal that City were not out of this contest.
The game seemed to be heading to penalties when in injury time, Nani grabbed a second and completed a remarkable comeback for the red half of Manchester.
Wayne Rooney had cleared a City corner up into the air, and when Vincent Kompany failed to clear the bouncing ball Nani was presented with a clear run on goal. Showing great composure in the dying seconds, the Portuguese winger glided past Hart and slotted home the winner in front of the United faithful.
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