MANCHESTER UTD [Man Utd win 4-3 on agg] (3) vs MANCHESTER CITY (1)
SIR ALEX FERGUSON heaped praise on his Manchester United troops after they silenced ‘noisy neighbours’ City and clinched a place in the Carling Cup final.
Wayne Rooney’s injury-time winner earned the defending champions a Wembley date with Aston Villa on 28 February, while robbing rivals City of a first major final appearance in 29 years.
Second-half strikes from Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick gave the hosts an aggregate lead, only for former United striker Carlos Tevez to level the scores with a cheeky back-heel 14 minutes from time.
But just when the tie looked set for extra time, Rooney popped up to head home a Ryan Giggs cross and send his side through.
“It’s a derby game, and you like to win your derby games,” a delighted Ferguson said afterwards. “The atmosphere tonight, and the fact it was a semi-final tie, added a lot of spice to the match.
“I think we kept our patience, I think this was important. And the fact we scored so late in the game brought a special type of celebration.”
The finale echoed United’s 4-3 Premier League win in September, when Michael Owen struck in the 96th minute and Ferguson called City “noisy neighbours” for talking up their chances beforehand.
Trailing 2-1 from the first leg at Eastlands, United last night tried desperately to open up the City back line, but the visitors held firm and might have stretched their lead but for fine saves by Edwin van der Sar from Micah Richards and Tevez.
The tie came to life after the restart when City winger Craig Bellamy went to ground after appearing to be struck by a coin.
Seconds later, Scholes latched onto a loose ball to fire past Shay Given and level the tie at 2-2.
United then took control and it was no surprise when Ferguson’s men went in front 19 minutes later, Darren Fletcher laying the ball off to Carrick who slotted past Given at his far post.
Rooney missed a sitter seconds later and was punished when Tevez, who provoked bad blood in the first leg by scoring and then rowing with United captain Gary Neville, seized on indecision from Rio Ferdinand and back-heeled past Van der Sar.
But just when it looked like the tie would go the distance, evergreen Giggs delivered for Rooney to head past Given in the third minute of injury time and send the majority of Old Trafford into raptures.