And so we were finally there. Wembley stadium full to capacity as swathes of Blue and Red eagerly awaiting the whistle to start the game off.
The first twenty minutes were dominated by United pressing forward and City never getting to the cleared balls first. It was constant pressure from the off with United`s midfield seemingly camped in the City half. There was good work from Nani and Scholes with De Jong and Barry often coming out second best.
On eighteen minutes United had the chance to go one up when Berbatov shot from ten yards out which was stopped by an unbelievable save from Joe Hart. The ball back into the box from this save found Berbatov only a few yards out with the ball at his feet. Fortunately for City Kolarov put enough pressure on him to cause Berbatov to put the ball over the bar.
City sporadically broke into the United half but would either lose possession or be forced to shoot from distance and rarely threatened United in the first half hour. Each time we broke into United`s half the next ball was wasteful and when Silva found himself on the ball there were few Blue shirts moving around to provide him with a target.
By this time Mancini was losing patience with the deep lying City defence and had a few strong words with our back four asking them to push up. Silva began to find a little time on the ball but still the movement ahead of him was poor. On thirty one minutes Silva wriggled free of his marker who found Barry in the box. A smart turn and shot found the side netting but City seemed to bolster themselves and found themselves holding on to the ball more.
On thirty four minutes Kolarov found Balotelli who turned and shot from thirty five yards forcing a smart save from Van der Sar. The resultant corner was poor but City held onto the ball and forced another corner after good work by Johnson over on the left. The ball fell to Lescott unmarked in the box but he shot over with the volley when he had more time.
As the half played out City were holding on to the ball better and playing more of their football in the United half. On fourty two minutes Toure evaded a tackle from Carrick and made a break into space and forced a smart save from Van Der Sar. Kompany`s shot from the resultant corner had Van Der Sar outstretched but went inches wide.
The two added minutes were played out uneventfully in a first half which was dominated early on by United but contested more evenly as it wore on.
The second half started with no changes for either side and Silva kicked off for City. Both sides seemed evenly matched but City`s midfield began to exert more and more pressure and a quick move from City saw Balotelli finding Kolarov on the overlap. The cross was returned to Balotelli who put the ball wide under pressure from Ferdinand and Van Der Sar.
First blood came on fifty two minutes. A mistake from Carrick under pressure, passed straight to Toure who took the ball round Vidic and nutmegged Van Der Sar to make the Blue half of Manchester and Wembley erupt. The pressure City`s midfield had begun to exert had paid off.
United were nervy from the kick off as City contested every ball, they were staying tight to United and not allowing them to play the football they had in the first thirty minutes.
City broke again on fifty five minutes as Balotelli found Silva with a through ball to the left. Caught in two minds Silva fluffed the chance, but City had their dander up and were beginning to play more and more in United`s final third. Balotelli, Toure and Silva were at the centre of everything and even when United broke Barry and De Jong were a rock wall. The United midfield began to creak and looked nervous every time Silva was on the ball.
By sixty minutes City were attacking in waves first from the left then from the right. Neat footwork from Johnson was followed by a pull back which Van Der Sar just managed to parry over the line for a corner.
Seventy minutes in Scholes went into Zabaleta in what must surely have been a revenge tackle for some robust tackles by Zabaleta earlier in the game. Scholes`s foot was over the top of the ball raking down Zabaleta`s thigh. After checking on Zabaleta Chris Foy who had officiated excellently produced a straight red. United had to play the final seventeen minutes with ten men as Ferguson withdrew Berbatov and replaced him with Anderson.
United`s first shot on target since City`s goal came on seventy seven minutes when Carrick struck smartly from the edge of the box but the ball seemed magically attracted to Hart`s gloves and City continued on the attack. Johnson who had been good in patches was then replaced by Shaun Wright Phillips to add some needed pace on the right.
O`shea was replaced by Fabio with six minutes to go but this had little effect on the game as the ball was played more and more between Blue feet. City were holding their nerve and making no mistakes with every United attack being met by Blue steel. Adding to this steel was Patrick Vieira who replaced the twinkle toed Silva in the eighty sixth minute.
Man of the match Toure had the chance to seal City`s victory on the stroke of ninety minutes but couldn`t keep his feet under pressure from United`s keeper. The injury time was announced at five minutes, a fair reflection due to the red card and number of substitutions.
City were attacking in waves again in the closing minutes, Wright Phillips nearly setting up Balotelli. The final minute had arrived with United playing desperately and City looking calm collected and dare I say it, Champions.
Bravo Mr Mancini, bravo Mario Balotelli, bravo Yaya Toure, bravo City. The Blue moon is on the rise!
Hart – 7
Made three outstanding saves and his distribution (other than one horror kick) was much better.
Zabaleta – 8
Didn’t look like he hadn’t played for six weeks. Solid in the tackle and a force going forward.
Kompany – 8
Majestic in the air and hard in the tackle. A great captain’s performance.
Lescott – 7
Was caught out once or twice on his weaker foot but stuck to his task and was rarely beaten.
Kolarov – 7
One of his best performances in a City shirt but was wasteful with his crossing.
Johnson – 7
Was good in part. Drifted in and out of the game but did have one or two mesmerising runs.
De Jong – 8
Was a rock in front of the back four terrier like snapping at the United players that dared to go near him.
Barry – 7.5
Solid as ever hardly ever losing possession and often finding himself part of the build up play.
Silva – 8
Became prominent in all of City’s play from thirty minutes into the game. Vision and passing of a world class standard.
Toure – 9
Simply outstanding. Ran his heart out, scored a goal and was still going for his second in the ninetieth minute. Showed why City paid so much for him. Head and shoulders above any United player.
Balotelli – 8.5
His best performance in a City shirt. Gone was the sulking and petulance as he chased every ball and had a hand in all that was good. Looks like he could be a City great if he stays.
Put in one or two tackles but too late to mark.
Made one or two runs and covered well defensively.
Mancini got his tactics spot on and had obviously motivated the team. Choosing Kompany as Captain was a great idea and after a rocky first thirty minutes got his team to dominate United.
Ferguson chose to match City’s formation which was his biggest mistake as City man for man outclassed their opposition. Desperately missed Rooney.