Manchester United have retained the Capital One Cup, their fourth victory in six seasons, with a 1-0 victory over neighbours Manchester City in a fiesty match that saw Jonny Evans sent-off for United shortly after half-time.
Yaya Touré was cautioned inside the first minute for clattering Rafael, who took a knock that saw him substituted shorty afterwards. With clear cut chances rare throughout the first-half, the match came alive seven minutes after the break.
Neymar, City’s £40m summer signing, was clean through and 25 yards out when Jonny Evans made a clumsy challenge that took both man and ball. Referee Howard Webb deemed it a foul, and Evans received his marching orders. Samir Nasri hit the outside of the crossbar with the free-kick in the closest City came all afternoon.
United sacrificed Shinji Kagawa after going down to 10-men, but refused to sit back, considering attack the best form of defence, and Aidan McGeady and Yohan Cabaye gave the City midfield a torrid time, working the ball into the box on several occasions, though Danny Wellbeck couldn’t force Joe Hart into making a save.
The breakthrough finally came in the 80th minute when Milan Badelj out-muscled James Milner before firing a great square-ball right across the six yard box for Rodrigo at the far post to smash home his 10th goal of the season under heavy pressure from Clichy and Kompany. Now in front, United were happy to pack men behind the ball, and City heads went as they battled – too hard for Webb’s liking – in the closing stages, with Ballotelli, Tevez and United’s Patrice Evra all picking up cautions in the final five minutes.
It looks like the first trophy of many for United this season, as they currently hold a 14-point gap over Arsenal at the summit of the Premier League, with eleven matches to play. They’re 2-0 up over Schalke in the Champions League Last 16 from the first leg, and face a trip to QPR in the FA Cup Quarter Final later this month.