United came from 2-0 down to beat Manchester City in the Community Shield at Wembley. Nani’s thoroughly deserved, stoppage-time winner gave United their nineteenth victory in the season’s traditional curtain-raising exhibition.
United were pressing high up early on and it was rattling City into making silly errors. Micah Richards was extremely lucky not to be sent-off, after his high lunge on new-signing, Ashley Young. The defender got away with a booking and as such won’t face any further charges.
The pressure on City mounted but their stern defence held firm. The possession and shot statistics showed the extent of United’s dominance but in the rare moments he was in possession, David Silva looked dangerous for City and – after a foul by Patrice Evra, it was his delightful ball in that allowed Joleon Lescott to give City the lead.
Stunned at falling behind, United failed to muster up any real chances to equalise before the break and as the clock ticked into first-half stoppage-time, City extended their lead to two goals, when Edin Dzeko went unchallenged as he bore down on goal and drilled home from almost thirty yards. The effort took new signing, David de Gea by surprise and some would say he was at fault after he appeared to move down to it in installments. However, the 20-year-old ‘keeper more than made up for this with a couple of excellent saves in the second-half.
The ineffectual Michael Carrick and central defender’s Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were replaced by Jonny Evans and debutantes Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley for the second-half. It was Cleverley’s introduction that gave United the creative drive in midfield that was needed to break City down.
The attacking impetus displayed by the Reds in the first-half was nothing compared to the second, with every attack being supported by at least seven red shirts. Each player was working just as hard off the ball than they were on it in their attempts to get back into the game. United were rewarded after just six minutes when the impressive Chris Smalling lost his marker to tap home a teasing Ashley Young free-kick.
Smalling was playing in an unfamiliar right-back role and despite a couple of miscontrolled passes, performed excellently in both his defensive duties and attacking support play.
United were playing fantastic, free-flowing attacking football and the equalising goal is one that will be shown for years to come. Tom Cleverley brought the ball out of United’s half to start a new attack. Passing interchanges were made before it the ball found its way to Wayne Rooney on the edge of the box. Some neat flicks between Cleverley, Welbeck, Rooney and Nani saw the Reds retain possession on the edge of the box. Rooney’s back-heel to the advanced Cleverley, whose wonderful deft touch freed Nani to finish well from close range.
No words can do the goal justice but Sir Alex Ferguson claimed after the game that if the goal had “been scored by Brazil or Barcelona” that people would be raving about it for years to come.
The Reds continued to attack after the equaliser but failed to test Joe Hart until Nani’s 94th minute winner. City had a free-kick in United’s half and the dangerous ball in – which Dzeko could’ve done a lot better with, was smacked clear of United’s box by Rooney. Vincent Kompany positioned himself to clear the ball back upfield but misjudged the bounce and the attempted clearance was charged down by Nani. The winger raced down on goal and rounded Joe Hart to give United the victory.
1. De Gea 6
12. Smalling 8
5. Ferdinand 5 (4. Jones 46 7)
15. Vidic 6 (23. Evans 46 7)
3. Evra 6 (21. Rafael 71 6)
17. Nani 8
16. Carrick 4 (35. Cleverley 46 8)
8. Anderson 7
18. Young 6
10. Rooney 6
19. Welbeck 7 (9. Berbatov 89)
Referee: Phil Dowd