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Blue Moon eclipses United


Manchester City's Yaya Toure celebrates after scoring during their FA Cup semi- final soccer against Manchester United in London. Photo: Reuters

Manchester City's Yaya Toure celebrates after scoring during their FA Cup semi- final soccer against Manchester United in London. Photo: Reuters

Manchester City's Yaya Toure celebrates after scoring during their FA Cup semi- final soccer against Manchester United in London. Photo: Reuters

The wealthiest club in the world pulled off the upset at Wembley last night. Manchester City beat Manchester United to reach the FA Cup final and justify to some degree Sheikh Mansour's half a billion pound spending.

United will have no treble and they ended the game with 10 men after Paul Scholes was sent off but there was no injustice in the result or the dismissal.

Yaya Toure scored the goal that will allow City to travel to London again next month as they try to end their 35-year wait for a trophy.

There were some who wondered if Mancini would now allow his team to play with abandon, as they had nothing to lose in a one-off game.

Mancini's view is that there is always something to lose and the chance of a trophy was something worth losing. But as the game progressed, City injected creativity alongside the industry their manager demands.

The manager said City's inspired second-half display was a reaction from the players, who were disappointed at their show in the first. The second demonstrated all they can do and all they have failed to do this season.

United are supposed to know how to win when chasing a lead, but while there was tension in the closing minutes, City were never alarmed.

With Carlos Tevez injured, Mario Balotelli started alone up front. Balotelli would appear alone in a five-man attack; his evening was one of frustrating glimpses, interrupted by one moment of brilliance when Edwin van der Sar had to tip his 35-yard shot over the bar just before half-time.

The rest of the time he infuriated, a constant source of frustration for Mancini. He ended the game scuffling with United players.

City had started slowly, as United began with the purpose of a side which knew that every game was now a prize.

This game was City's. For now at least, though they struggled to compete early on.

Michael Carrick, Scholes and Ji-Sung Park zipped some passes on the edge of the City box early on and Berbatov was one-on-one with Hart but the 'keeper saved well.

Fourteen seconds later, Berbatov had another chance. Nani burst in from the left, delivered a low cross but, from four yards, Berbatov managed to put the ball over the bar.

City seemed lifeless. Nemanja Vidic headed over from a needlessly conceded corner and whenever City did break, they allowed United to get back.

Gareth Barry had shot into the side-netting before Balotelli lifted the City fans with his crazy shot.

It brought City to life. Joleon Lescott volleyed over from a corner before Toure went on a run and Kompany curled a shot from outside the box just wide.

City's second half was what many had expected in the first. Kompany roared at his team-mates as they came out and, apart from a Joe Hart mis-kick, they pushed United back.

City had never taken the lead against United in the five games they played under Mancini. In fact, sometimes it seems like they have never taken the lead against a big side at all. Their record against United changed yesterday. United were being pushed back and forced into errors.

Van der Sar kicked poorly, a shock in itself, Silva picked up but John O'Shea won the ball back and played it to Michael Carrick.

Immediately Carrick gave it away, passing straight to Yaya Toure, who accelerated past Vidic and finished calmly.

The City end erupted. Now City showed what they must have been planning all season long.

With a lead, they didn't retreat. They shoved United back, keeping the pressure on with a relentlessness that shocked them.

City kept United in their half. Adam Johnson nearly got a second when he skipped though on the right and Van der Sar fumbled his cross-shot over the line. Lescott then headed wide. United were finding it impossible to get forward, a frustrating and rare experience.

It became even tougher when Scholes was sent off.

Pablo Zabaleta had just been booked for a tackle on Park when he tangled with Scholes. Zabaleta came away with the ball and Scholes came away with some of Zabaleta's thigh, stamping into his leg for a tackle that might have made Nigel de Jong shake his head.

City were now sitting back. Mancini and David Platt spent most of the remainder screaming at Balotelli to track back.

City could have relieved the pressure when Barry played in Toure but Vidic and Van der Sar smothered the chance.

Chicharito was on but United were struggling. City were always danger on the counter-attack but more importantly they were able to defend.

Even the five minutes of injury-time couldn't deter them. When the final whistle went, Manchester United's neighbours made some noise.

Sunday Indo Sport