MAN CITY 2, MAN UTD 3. FA Cup 3rd Round.
Sir Alex Ferguson was unhappy even though Manchester United defeated their neighbours to book their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
The Reds’ manager was concerned by his side’s “careless” second-half performance as they almost slipped up against 10-man City.
United, who had a one-man advantage for 78 minutes after Vincent Kompany’s early sending off, established a 3-0 interval lead.
Ferguson said: “It was a careless second-half performance. We should have been home and dry and had a clear-cut scoreline and if we keep making mistakes we will suffer.
“We were 3-0 up, felt we were through and took our foot off the pedal.”
The Reds’ chief added he thought his side made City look better than they were while also declaring there has been no bust up with Wayne Rooney after reports of off-the-field troubles .
“There is no problem with Wayne and you have to realise the press have another Gascoigne and he is a headline maker, good or bad,” he said.
City manager Roberto Mancini praised his 10 men for the way they almost forced a replay saying they took two steps forward as opposed to ones backwards after their spirited display.
Mancini said: “It was a fantastic performance bearing in mind we had 10 players for 80 minutes whereas United had 10 for 40 minutes when we played them earlier.
“I am disappointed to lose, but I am happy with our performance and also for my players who scored two goals in the second half and didn’t concede chances for them to score.”
Mancini would not talk about Kompany’s sending off other than saying the club will be appealing against the red card which will earn a four-match ban if it is upheld given it is his second red card of the season.
It was an amazing game in which United established a 3-0 interval lead as City were in disarray and facing a defeat as humiliating as the 6-1 one United suffered on their league visit at Old Trafford.
City reorganised at the break and the managed to battle their way back into the game scoring twice and it was United who were grimly holding on to their slender advantage as the hosts piled forward in pursuit of an equaliser.
City were without the Toure brothers who are on African Cup of Nations duty, the suspended Gareth Barry, injured Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli while Joe Hart was on the bench as Romanian Costel Pantilimon was handed a rare start in goal.
United caused a surprise naming Paul Scholes as a substitute and announcing he was coming out of retirement to help the injury-hit Reds until the end of the season. Dimitar Berbatov was an absentee through injury.
United made the breakthrough in the 10th minute when Rooney headed home an Antonio Valencia right-wing cross which flew in off the underside of the crossbar.
The tie tilted United’s way even further two minutes later when Kompany was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Nani.
Yet 10-man City were denied an equaliser soon after by a breathtaking leap from Anders Lindegaard high to his left to keep out a shot from Sergio Aguero.
United increased their lead on the half hour through Welbeck’s acrobatic volley.
Patrice Evra’s low cross from the left was cleared by Joleon Lescott, but only as far as Welbeck who found the net with a stunning shot.
And it got even better for United six minutes before half time when they added a third goal after they were awarded a penalty after a foul by Aleksandar Kolarov on Welbeck.
Rooney’s spot kick was well saved by Pantilimon, but the ball looped into the air for Rooney to head home from six yards, his 20th goal of the season.
City made two changes at the break taking off Adam Johnson and David Silva. They were replaced by Stefan Savic and Pablo Zabaleta as they switched to 3-4-2.
The game took another twist when City pulled a goal back less than three minutes after the restart. Evra was booked for hauling Micah Richards down and Kolarov curled in a delightful free kick over the defensive wall.
Scholes replaced Nani just before the hour and not long after United were denied a second penalty of the game when Valencia was clearly brought down by Kolarov, but referee Chris Foy waved play on.
There was more drama in the 64th minute when Scholes lost poseession from a throw in. James Milner crossed from the right and Aguero’s initial shot was only parried by Lindegaard as the Argentine slotted home the rebound from three yards into the empty net.
City were also denied a penalty with eight minutes left when Jones clearly handled a left-wing cross from Kolarov immediately after former United player Owen Hargreaves had replaced Nasri.
And there might have been a final twist in stoppage time as City’s 10 men had two chances to force a replay.
Rio Ferdinand was booked for fouling Richards in exactly the same spot from where Kolarov scored his goal. This time Kolarov’s shot was beaten out by Lindegaard.
Then seconds from the end of the three minutes of added time Pantilmon came up for a corner and the 6ft 8in giant got his head to the ball but glanced it wide.