MANCHESTER CITY (2) vs MANCHESTER UNITED (3)
● United dump out 10-man rivals in FA Cup thriller
● Rooney scores twice and pledges future to club
● Trip to Liverpool up next for Ferguson’s men
TWO-GOAL hero Wayne Rooney pledged his future to Manchester United after helping them take revenge on their bitter rivals and set up another combustible FA Cup tie against Liverpool.
A Rooney brace and a strike from Danny Welbeck inflicted Manchester City’s first home defeat since 2010 – retribution for their 6-1 drubbing of United in October – and ensured the holders and Premier League leaders fell at the third round.
City suffered from Vincent Kompany’s contentious early sending-off, but rallied after the break when goals from Aleksandar Kolarov and Sergio Aguero took them to the brink of an unlikely comeback.
United stalwart Paul Scholes sprung a major shock by coming out of retirement to appear as a substitute, but it was the ruthless Rooney who proved decisive – and then rubbished speculation that he is for sale.
“Everything that has been in the press of late is a load of nonsense really,” said the England striker. “There is no problem for me at this club, I want to be at this club for a long time.”
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson echoed his player’s message – comparing him to troubled former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne – but castigated his team for allowing 10-man City to claw their way back into the game.
“Wayne is a headline-maker, good or bad,” said Ferguson. “We’ve seen the good today but any flaws will be absolutely annihilated by the press.”
He added: “We got careless and made City better than they were. Fortunately we scrambled away with a victory from a position where we should have battered them.”
City manager Roberto Mancini, who vowed to appeal a red card that increases Kompany’s imminent suspension to four games, insisted his team’s recovery gave him renewed belief they could hold off champions United in the league.
“If we have the same attitude and same strength every game, we will win the league,” said the Italian.
Rooney gave United the lead in the 10th minute when he met Antonio Valencia’s pacy right-wing cross with a powerful header that arrowed into the top-left corner.
Kompany’s dismissal – for a two-footed lunge on Nani – swung the contest further in the visitors’ favour; Welbeck’s expertly hooked volley and Rooney’s penalty follow-up rammed home their advantage. City were handed a lifeline when Kolarov’s free-kick beat Anders Lindegaard and Aguero’s poacher’s strike cut the deficit further.
City, already trailing 1-0, were plunged further into the mire when Kompany was shown a straight red card for a two-footed tackle on Nani. Ferguson, naturally, agreed with the decision, while Mancini vowed to appeal the dismissal, although Football Association rules leave little hope of the sending off being rescinded.
Having seemingly overcome a December wobble to reassert their dominance by beating Liverpool last week, City now find themselves facing another test of their resilience. Gone is their unbeaten home record; can they quickly recover with a number of tricky fixtures on the horizon?