Home » EPL, FA Cup, Latest » FA Cup Match Report: Man City 2 Man United 3

Paul Scholes returned from retirement as Manchester United avenged their 6-1 derby humiliation against Manchester City – but the FA Cup holders almost pulled off an amazing fightback.

Despite racing into a 3-0 half-time lead, United endured a fraught last half hour after Aleksandar Kolarov and Sergio Aguero hauled City back into the game.

City were denied a seemingly clear late penalty and Kolarov’s injury-time free-kick was well saved by Anders Lindegaard as the home side piled forward. But United held on to book their place in round four after another remarkable Manchester derby.

The pre-match build-up had been dominated by Scholes’s shock retirement U-turn, with the 37 year-old returning to the game to take his place on the bench for this tie.

But with his future in doubt due to weekend headlines – denied by United and his representatives – that he was set to be sold this month, Rooney was almost allowed to slip under the radar thanks to his returning colleague.

So it was perhaps inevitable that Rooney would play a pivotal part in the early stages, particularly after his dismal performance against Newcastle in midweek.

There were only 10 minutes on the clock when Rooney set the tone for a stunning cup-tie by opening the scoring for United.

Ryan Giggs’s pass had set Rooney free 40 yards from goal and the forward laid the ball off to Antonio Valencia before sprinting into the penalty area for the return ball.

Valencia’s crossing has contributed countless assists for Rooney since he arrived from Wigan in 2009, and this was the latest, with Rooney outjumping the City defence to send the Ecuadorean’s cross in off the underside of the crossbar.

City were shellshocked, but the day worsened for the home side 60 seconds later when captain Vincent Kompany was sent off.

The Belgian defender looked to have won the ball in a challenge with Nani, but referee Chris Foy judged the challenge to have been two-footed and brandished the red card.

Having been sent off against Wolves earlier this season, Kompany now faces a four-match ban – poor timing with Kolo Toure on Africa Cup of Nations’ duty for a month – if City fail to overturn the decision.

United sensed an opportunity to take advantage and make amends for last October’s 6-1 hammering at the hands of Roberto Mancini’s team.

And after Lindegaard saved well from Sergio Aguero on 14 minutes, United began to dominate, and their second came through Danny Welbeck on the half hour.

City failed to clear Patrice Evra’s cross and Nigel de Jong then appeared to duck out of the way as Welbeck volleyed in from six yards.

When Foy pointed to the penalty spot on 39 minutes, after Kolarov had tripped Welbeck, the game looked up for City when Rooney scored from the rebound after keeper Costel Pantilimon saved the initial spot-kick.

But Kolarov’s 48th-minute strike from a free-kick made it 3-1 and gave City hope of a remarkable comeback.

With United holding a one-man advantage, they should never have been in any danger. But they could not kill the game and Aguero reduced the deficit even further on 64 minutes when Pablo Zabaleta pounced on a Scholes mistake and crossed for his Argentine team-mate to score from close range.

Now it was game on and United were wobbling. Scholes, unsurprisingly, looked off the pace and the home side were winning the midfield battle.

Scholes almost made it 4-2 with a 25-yard strike that was well saved by Pantilimon, but the big moment came on 82 minutes when Jones appeared to handle Kolarov’s cross.

Replays suggested a clear handball, but Foy missed it and United were let off the hook.

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