The summer is nearly over, the transfer only has a couple of weeks left until it shuts and the curtain raiser of English top flight football has returned in the form of the Community Shield. This year`s shield has added spice as it`s the biggest Derby of them all, as Mancini`s blues pit their skill and team ethic against the experience and professionalism of Fergie`s reds.
This will be United`s tenth successive Wembley Community Shield appearance whilst it is City`s first since 1973. The two clubs have only met once before in the competition in 1956 when United won one nil. Whilst three of the last four Community Shields have ended in draws and thus been decided by penalty shoot out (great for Joe Hart), only one of the last fourteen meetings between City and United have ended in a draw.
The team sent out to battle the reds was full of menace and guile and had already despatched Inter Milan. With pace and strength up front as Mancini opted for the 4-3-3 formation as the news boys Clichy, Savic and Aguero started on the bench.
United kicked off shooting right to left. First attack down City`s right brought a foul by Kompany on Young after tough work by Richards. Free kick a few yards in from the touchline. Young put the ball in low but cleared easily by the defence. Next Rooney and Nani combined well but the final ball was found wanting on the edge of the City box.
United were controlling the ball in the opening minutes and after three minutes had the first corner on the City left. Smalling found himself unmarked after a series of ricochets and Lescott spared City`s blushes. This seemed to spur City on and they had a corner within seconds after Dzeko and Silva combined. The resulting corner was cleared and United broke quickly with Rooney.
Only five minutes in and City`s second corner after Dzeko`s ball came off Vidic. The corner didn`t get past the first man and Nani soon found himself on the ball. He found Wellbeck who turned Lescott with ease and brought a free kick again taken by Young half way inside the City right.
Possession was beginning to be shared out more evenly although City were enjoying more play in United`s half and forcing the reds into longer balls as they defended from the front. Both teams though were looking tentative and often the final ball in was the wrong one.
First flare point of the game was of course by Balotlelli after Vidic deliberately left his foot in Balotelli’s groin after a tumble. Forehead to forehead but the ref diffused the situation quickly.
This was quickly followed by City`s third corner which was far too hard and flew over all the waiting heads. The ball quickly found its way down pitch with Nani on United`s right who found Young on the opposite wing but the final ball though was wanting.
As the game settled down, City seemed to have more outlet through the centre of midfield as United were forced to play down the wings. This was probably down to the narrower formation the City team were playing.
A first booking of the game was given to Anderson and Dzeko after Anderson`s furious reaction to an innocuous tackle caused Dzeko to push the attempted head butt away. Typical United.
Twenty one minutes in and the third yellow of the game, as a two footed lunge by Richards on Young should really have resulted in a red. A sensible decision by the ref to only show a yellow. The free kick was a foot outside the penalty box to the City right. Rooney struck the ball well but it was high and wide of Hart`s left post.
Four minutes later and Wellbeck was dancing through the City centre halves and almost cut the ball into the net but it went inches wide. United were attacking down the same side within seconds and forced another corner. The extra height of the City back line was working well though as each high corner was headed away.
Nearly the half hour mark before City`s first real chance as work from Silva and Richards found Milner running between the united full back and centre half. His side footed finish seemed to take a deflection and rolled wide of the post but a goal kick was given.
You could see that Balotelli was a target as every time he found himself on the ball a thoroughly viscous tackle was sent his way. This time a two footed challenge by Nani from behind. The ref however saw no infringement and waved play on.
On thirty two minutes Silva danced past the United defender and found Kolarov whose ball in was turned away for a corner. Again the ball in was found wanting.
The next yellow followed soon after for City, as Toure was booked for persistent fouling. Seconds later and a foul by Evra (which should have had a card) gave City a free kick on the United left. Up stepped Silva with his sweet left foot. The flighted ball found Lescott leaping majestically over Ferdinand and Vidic to put the ball into the United net.
Seconds from kick off and Evra was finally booked for a rugby tackle on Milner. The free kick was inches outside the United box in the same area as Rooney`s earlier in the half. The ball struck the wall and went out for a corner on the City right. Once again though the ball in didn`t find a blue shirt.
As the seconds to half time ticked down, City were finding more and more possession as their confidence flowed. United were looking disheartened and disjointed and more often than not were being forced to play the ball back to their keeper.
On the stroke of half time Dzeko picked the ball up thirty five yards out. With no red shirts nearby he cocked the trigger and shot low and hard and put the ball cleanly inside the United keepers near post to make the score two nil and surely score one of the best ever goals in the Community Shield.
The difference in the first half was the finishing?..quite simply City took their chances and United didn`t. And all this without an Argentinian on the pitch!
Three substitutions for United heralded the second half kick-off as cleverly Jones and Evans came on for Anderson Ferdinand and Vidic. City kicked off but were immediately disposed by United. Although their long ball forward only found Joe Hart.
As expected United came out of the blocks at full speed as City were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure.
Five minutes in and the pattern seemed to be set. City buoyed by their two late first half goals and United`s confidence shaken. The reds were throwing everything at City and a free kick on fifty one minutes was driven in by Young on the City right. Smalling found himself between Kompany and Richards with an easy side foot into the City net past a despairing Hart. Two one and game on.
On fifty four minutes City were nearly through as Dzeko and Silva combined but Dzeko couldn`t find Silva as he stood unmarked. Seconds later United broke and Milner was forced to concede a foul (for which he was booked) only a yard out from the City penalty box. Rooney stood up to take the free kick and ran over the ball for Young to shoot against the City wall.
Fifty seven minutes in and Nani waltzed his way through the City defence and chipped the ball over Hart and into the net as De Jong failed to track the run as Nani played the one two. Two all and game even more on.
The second half was a mirror of the first half with United totally dominating the early exchanges but this time taking the chances City gave them. Mancini attempted to combat this by withdrawing Balotelli and bringing on Barry in an attempt to shore up the midfield.
Next booking was given to Kolarov for an innocuous looking challenge as the card count was mounting up. Five to City and two to United. The ref certainly seemed to be giving United the better of his judgement as some of their tackles were x rated.
Fifteen minutes in to the second half and United were in total dominance holding onto the ball and creating chance after chance. They were also finding every second ball to keep City under pressure as they defended.
On sixty six minutes Johnson replaced Milner to add some much needed pace on the City right. It had little effect on the game though as United continued with wave after wave of attacking football.
Another United attack and another free kick on the edge of the City box. Before the free kick Evra was replaced by Raphael. Up stepped Rooney and struck his own player in the wall.
Like a game of chess Mancini countered Fergusons substitution with one of his own as Gael Clichy replaced Kolarov to inject some pace on the left wing.
Good work from Johnson on seventy six minutes as he twice beat Raphael to force a throw in. But United stole the ball and broke only to be repulsed once again by the City defence.
On eighty one minutes a first of the game?.Richards was awarded a free kick against Young. Hart took the kick but his long ball found only the United keeper.
Four minutes to go and a mix up between Hart and Kompany led to a corner when surely the ball was Harts. United couldn`t capitalise and Hart gathered the ball for kick down field. City gained a corner from this, which Richards met majestically but the ref`s whistle went as Richards was adjudged to have fouled his defender.
Two minutes to go and Wellbeck was replaced by Berabtov probably with one eye on the penalty shootout that would happen if the match finished as it looked like it was, as a draw.
With one minute to go the from a City free kick the ball was cleared high up field. It looked like Kompany`s ball but he missed it completely and left Nani one on one with Hart. Three two to United and surely game over.
Was this an image of things to come? United the old masters and City having to learn from hard experience, the game isn`t over until the final whistle. A game lost by individual errors and won by experience.
Joe Hart – 7
Not at fault for any of the goals and his kicking looked much improved.
Micah Richards – 6.5
Kept Ashley Young quiet but was lucky to stay on the pitch after a horror two footed lunge.
Vincent Kompany – 6.5
At fault for at least one of the goals if not two. Not the Super Vinnie we have come to know. Should have taken charge when United scored their third.
Joleon Lescott – 7
Scored a great goal and looked steady. Did get caught out of position on occasion.
Aleksandar Kolarov – 6
Looked ok but still can’t get into position quickly enough when caught forward. Also wasteful with the ball.
Nigel De Jong – 7
Was a rock in the first half but at fault for one of the goals when he didn’t track his midfielder into the box.
Yaya Toure – 7
Carried the ball forward well and was subject to some nasty tackles.
James Milner – 7
Had at least two or three chances to score and bought some good free kicks.
David Silva – 7.5
Tried to run the game but was often subject to some ‘professional’ play from United’s midfield. Was at the heart of everything good City created.
Mario Balotelli – 6.5
Undoubtedly skillful but got wound up far to easily by United’s ‘professional’ style of play. Will be seen as a weakness and targeted week in week out this season.
Edin Dzeko – 7.5
Scored a wonder goal and is getting stronger week after week. Would be great if he can form a real partnership with Aguero.
Gareth Barry – 7
Brought on to do a job. Should have been brought on at half time. He shored up the midfield but too late as heads were already down.
Adam Johnson – 6
Came on to inject pace down the right but didn’t do much. It’s SWP I feel sorry for.
Too late to mark really but had his hand in United’s third although Kompany as Captain should have done better.
Mancini – 6.5
e didn’t change things when he should have and paid the price.
Fergie – 8
he Master does it again. His ‘Professional’ and by this I mean win at all costs style of play has once again won the game.