Sunday, February 13, 2011
The Manchester derby over the weekend was termed as a possible do-or-die for Manchester City. Lose the match and the Blues would be virtually out of the title race. Manchester United once more did not play as well as they can, but yet the Red Devils got the necessary three points to stay four points clear of Arsenal and eight points clear of their "noisy neighbours" City.
The Citizens were unfortunate not to have left Old Trafford with a point, Wayne Rooney's strike was a goal worthy to win any match. Manchester City once again could not produce the goods when it mattered. Mancini's safety first approach is not paying dividends for the expensively assembled side.
With Rio Ferdinand injured, Mancini opted for Tevez as the lone striker, leaving Edin Dzeko on the bench. Dzeko's introduction in the second half gave Manchester City more options in attack. City's most outstanding player, Yaya Toure was noticeably anonymous against United. His marauding forward runs were missed, as City attacks continually broke down as midfielders hardly got forward in support of Tevez.
All in all, Sir Alex Ferguson put out a predictable 4-5-1 lineup (as he typically does in big matches) and Mancini should have tried to capitalise on the absence of Ferdinand by fielding Dzeko. Rooney's goal settled the contest and United was the happier side, going into the dressing room.
On a personal front, Dimitar Berbatov threw down the gauntlet by scoring a truly magnificient overhead kick against Liverpool early in the season. His hattrick in that game quite clearly filled him with so much confidence that he is the current Premier League top goalscorer. Berbatov has been in great form this season, scoring 19 goals so far. This was the benchmark for Rooney until the Manchester derby on Saturday.
Wayne Rooney have had to battle poor form, marital problems and hate mail throughout this troubled season. Worst of all, he had to concede the limelight to Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov this season. That must have hurt the striker who scored 26 goals in the Premier League the season before.
So when Nani sent in a deflected cross, images of Berbatov's Liverpool strike flashed through Rooney's mind. The determination not to be outdone by Berbatov gave Rooney that extra bit of concentration to pull off such a magnificient strike. More significantly, Rooney's goal on Saturday proved to be the winning goal for United.
Which overhead kick is the best?
My vote is for Berbatov's as he had the harder task of controlling the ball on his thigh and then generating power with the overhead kick. As good as it was, Rooney had momentum on his side, thus making his attempt easier.
What do you think? Cast your vote in the comments section.
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