MANCHESTER CITY (2) vs MANCHESTER UTD (1)
CARLOS TEVEZ returned to haunt his former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and take City a step closer to a first major Wembley final in 29 years.
Tevez played the starring role in a pulsating derby encounter, scoring twice as City came from behind to take a slender advantagr into next Wednesday’s second leg at Old Trafford. Ryan Giggs bundled United into a deserved first-half lead before Tevez brought Roberto Mancini’s men level with a controversial penalty just before the break.
The Argentina star then put his new employers in front with a scrambled finish before goalkeeper Shay Given preserved City’s lead with a string of fine late saves, notably from Giggs and Wayne Rooney.
But the night belonged to Tevez, whose ear-cupping goal celebration was clearly a gesture towards the United bench, who allowed him to leave the club in the summer, refusing to stump up the £25m asking price.
In his limited English, he said: “I feel OK, too tired, but it’s OK. It’s special for me, that was for the City fans.”
Mancini dominated the pre-match hype by suggesting his City side could shift the balance of power in Manchester from their neighbours.
But United, fielding their strongest possible side, set about to make him eat his words as they dominated the early exchanges. Indeed, after just 17 minutes they were in front – Antonio Valencia working his way to the right-hand by-line and Giggs, after Given had kept out Rooney’s effort with his chest, slotted home from a yard out.
United took control of the midfield, forcing City backwards, yet they rarely threatened Given in the City goal.
But just when they looked like taking their goal advantage into the break, Rafael tugged on the shirt of Craig Bellamy and referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot, although replays suggested contact had occurred outside the box. Tevez, who scored six goals in helping United lift this trophy last season, stepped up to smash the ball beyond Edwin van der Sar, sending Eastlands into raptures.
The goal sparked life into City after the break and 20 minutes into the restart, Tevez made his mark again. United failed to deal with a Bellamy corner, Vincent Kompany hooked the ball back into the box and the Tevez was on hand to bravely nod home.
Mancini was clearly happy with the 2-1 advantage, hauling off man-of-the-match Tevez in a bid to batten down the hatches and protect his lead.
But it was only the heroics of Given which kept City’s noses in front – the Irishman twice keeping out efforts from the lively Rooney with his legs, while Valencia somehow failed to turn in Rooney’s cross at the far post.