Carling Cup – Game Derby can’t deny United a Wembley trip
A first-half goal blitz saw Manchester United to a 4-2 victory over Derby County at Old Trafford to book their place in the Carling Cup final.
The Premier League champions were 3-0 up at half-time, taking advantage of Derby’s early attacking intent as they looked to build on their surprise 1-0 victory in the first leg at Pride Park.
A late Giles Barnes penalty brought the match back to life in the final minutes, with the Championship side knowing a second goal would give them the advantage on the away goals rule.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a fourth from the penalty spot with just two minutes remaining to seemingly put the tie to bed – although Barnes then fired a wonderful free-kick low into the bottom corner a minute later to keep things interesting.
However, United comfortably held on through injury time to book their place at Wembley, where they will meet either Tottenham Hotspur or Burnley.
United dominated the opening exchanges but it was Derby who went closest in the first ten minutes when Kris Commons almost bettered his winner in the first leg with another stunning effort from 30 yards which swerved a foot or so wide.
Nani showed him how it should be done in the 16th minute, picking up the ball on the halfway line, cutting in from the left and, with no challenge forthcoming, smashing a dipping 30-yard shot that Roy Carroll could only get a slight touch on before the ball whistled past him.
Six minutes later United had doubled their lead and moved ahead in the fixture when left-back O’Shea found himself with the ball at his feet in the Derby area with plenty of time to pick his spot inside the near post with a calm finish.
Derby remained a threat going forward but were made to pay for continuing to attack as United scored a third in the 34th minute. Ryan Giggs played the ball short to Rafael da Silva, whose teasing cross was easily headed past Carroll by a completely unmarked Tevez.
The game began to drift a little as the second half went on, although Nigel Clough’s men refused to give up and saw a period of possession rewarded with a Barnes penalty 10 minutes from time when Paul Green was tripped by Jonny Evans, struggling with an injury.
Derby began to dream of Wembley and pushed forward, with Barnes steering a good headed chance straight at the grateful Ben Foster with six minutes to play.
However, United used their experience to take the sting out of the match with some controlled possession, and won a penalty of their own with three minutes remaining after Carroll tripped Tevez, with sub Cristiano Ronaldo keeping his cool after a long delay to convert the spot-kick to make it 4-1 on the night.
Barnes, who had replaced Commons on 69, curled in a fine low 20-yard free-kick in stoppage time – but there was too little time to mount another meaningful attack and United closed out an entertaining 4-3 aggregate victory.