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Smarting Given vows to exact revenge for Owen's late, late show

SHAY GIVEN shared a dressing-room with Michael Owen for almost four years at Newcastle, but he admits the striker caused him two months of anguish with his injury-time winner in last September's Manchester derby.

Given, the City goalkeeper, will get the opportunity to avenge Owen's goal in the "99th minute of injury-time" during United's 4-3 Old Trafford victory when the teams meet in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Eastlands tomorrow.

Much has changed since that dramatic day at Old Trafford. Mark Hughes has been replaced as City manager by Roberto Mancini, Owen has failed to secure a starting position at United and the Premier League champions go into tomorrow's derby on the back of their most humiliating FA Cup defeat for 26 years, the 1-0 defeat against Leeds on Sunday.

The stakes, though, are as high as ever. City are aiming to end a 34-year trophy drought, while United must get their season back on track.

But Given (33) admits he has extra motivation to help City to Wembley thanks to Owen's goal and a catalogue of cup disappointments with Newcastle.

He said: "I have to admit it took me a long while to get over Michael's goal at Old Trafford. It took me a good few weeks, even a couple of months, to get it out of my system. We played so well that day, so for United to get such a late, late goal was very difficult for everyone to swallow. So we'd like to get our own back for that.

"We've only lost twice all season, despite everything that has been said and written about us, and that was one of them, in the 99th minute of injury-time at Old Trafford!

"It seems like a long time ago now and we have to look forward rather than back going into Wednesday night.

"We were gutted with the way it went at United, though. We know we have to defend better in those situations on Wednesday night and keep going right until the final whistle."

Given's tale of woe in cup competitions bears resemblance to City's, who will contest their first major semi-final since 1981.

Still pained by the World Cup play-off heartbreak, when Henry's hand helped nudge Ireland out of the reckoning, Given can also recall two FA Cup final defeats and another at the semi-final stage.

So with only disappointment to look back upon, Given insists it is time for a change, both for him and his club.

He said: "When you get to this stage, you've got to go on and win the thing because people forget semi-finalists very quickly. Even losing finalists get forgotten about and I know that from my two finals at Newcastle.

"Only the winners get remembered, so we're desperate to win a competition and be remembered at this club as the first players to pick up some trophies for a long time. We've got a great squad of players here. Everything is set up for us to do something.

"I've been to semi-finals and finals, but now I want to go all the way and win something. We know how tough it's going to be but we're really looking forward to it.

"It's going to be a special game for everyone on Wednesday night. We know the fans are really excited about it, but so are the players.

"They are going to be two red-hot semi-finals. It's a huge derby, this one, and I know now how much it means." (Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent