Man City beats 10-man United to reach FA Cup final
Yaya Toure kept Manchester City on course to end a 35-year trophy drought and ended Manchester United's pursuit of a treble by sending his big-spending club into the FA Cup final with a 1-0 victory on Saturday.
Toure exploited calamitous defending for the only goal in the 52nd minute at Wembley Stadium.
City last reached the final in 1981 and hasn't won a major title since the 1976 League Cup.
''It's fantastic for the club, for the players and fantastic for the fans, because they have been without for 35 years,'' Toure said.
In a fiery conclusion to the Manchester derby, United midfielder Paul Scholes was sent off in the 72nd for a dangerous, high lunge on Pablo Zabaleta. And after the final whistle, City striker Mario Balotelli clashed with United midfielder Anderson after celebrating in front of opposition supporters.
City was overrun for most of the first half and Dimitar Berbatov should have put United ahead when he lofted the ball over from close range in front of an unguarded net.
''We had opportunities and we didn't take them,'' United captain Nemanja Vidic said. ''We lost concentration for one moment and they scored - that's hard to take. It is difficult, we are disappointed, but we have to forget this game.''
After seeing a seven-match winning run ended, United's focus turns to winning two more prestigious trophies.
United is seven points clear at the top of the Premier League and will return to Wembley for the Champions League final next month if it can overcome Schalke in the semifinals.
''We're getting recovered to get ready for the game on Tuesday (against Newcastle),'' United manager Alex Ferguson said. ''It doesn't matter when you play, you know you've got to recover and get on a winning streak again.''
In the FA Cup final on May 14, City will play the winner of Sunday's semifinal between Stoke and Bolton.
''We mustn't forget we play another game,'' City manager Roberto Mancini said. ''Today, we won only the semifinal ... for us, it's important to start to win the first trophies.''
City will see Saturday's victory over United as a sign that the balance in power could be shifting in Manchester thanks to around $1 billion pounds of investment by owner Sheikh Mansour since 2008.
City is also looking to reach the Champions League for the first time, with Mancini's side occupying the fourth qualifying spot in the Premier League.
''If we have the same spirit we had today, we have the fourth spot,'' the Italian manager said.
The first Wembley derby between the Manchester rivals looked to be heading toward a comfortable United victory after a vibrant start by Ferguson's side.
United, though, were made to pay for Berbatov's profligacy after being restored to the starting lineup in favor of Javier Hernandez.
Berbatov - the Premier League's leading goalscorer - was presented with two openings in quick succession in the 15th.
Park Ji-Sung played in the Bulgaria striker, but he was denied when one-on-one with Joe Hart.
And when Nani squared the ball from the left flank, Berbatov raised it over from three meters (yards).
Given this was City's biggest match since the 1981 FA Cup final, there was no menace from the team to match its lofty ambitions for more than half an hour.
City didn't go close to Van der Sar's goal until Gareth Barry, on the turn, lashed the ball into the side netting.
Van der Sar was tested for the first time when Balotelli unleashed a fierce shot from distance that was turned over.
''In the last 10, 15 minutes of the first half, we started to play high, we started to press,'' Mancini said.
City's newfound confidence carried over into the second half and City punished United's sloppy defending in the 52nd.
A poor clearance from Van der Sar was picked up by teammate Michael Carrick, who passed straight to Toure.
The Ivory Coast international stormed past Vidic, who was attempting to tug at his shirt, and slotted the ball between Van der Sar's legs.
''The first 15 minutes after halftime cost us the game,'' Ferguson said. ''Slack moments. Edwin had a bad kick out and Michael Carrick couldn't hold it and it was a goal.
''From then on, they were defending apart from a couple of counterattacks. It's disappointing as we should've been ahead in the first half as we were the better team.''
But it took Hart's acrobatics to keep out Nani's free kick, pushing the strike onto the crossbar.