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Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010

Tevez haunts United with first-leg double

LONDON (AP) Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez scored twice against former club Manchester United to clinch a 2-1 victory in the first leg of their League Cup semifinal on Tuesday.

Tevez, who defected from United in the offseason, drove home a penalty just before halftime to cancel out Ryan Giggs' close-range tap-in for the holders.

The striker exploited gaps in the United defense in the second half to grab his 12th goal in his last 11 games.

"Obviously the talk was about Carlos before the game," City midfielder Gareth Barry said. "And he did his talking on the pitch with a great performance."

Tevez celebrated by cupping his ears — the same gesture he directed at United manager Alex Ferguson toward the end of last season after scoring against City when his Old Trafford days were already numbered.

"We played well and dominated the match. We were reasonably in control but we had a mad five minutes before halftime that brought them back into the game," Ferguson said. "With the crowd at Old Trafford and the occasion and what is at stake we will be OK."

While the League Cup is the lowest priority for most topflight clubs, City is hoping to mark the start of its big-spending revolution by reaching its first final since the 1981 F.A. Cup and winning its first title since the 1976 League Cup.

Now City has to protect its 2-1 lead in the second leg at Old Trafford next Wednesday. The winner will play either Aston Villa or Blackburn in the Feb. 28 final at Wembley. Villa has a 1-0 advantage going into Wednesday's second leg.

Manager Roberto Mancini took the bold step of leaving inconsistent forward Robinho on the bench just like in Saturday's 2-0 loss at Everton — the first blot on the Italian's record since taking charge last month.

The fear of losing to its neighbor saw Ferguson deploy a stronger team than the younger ones sent out in the earlier rounds. The 36-year-old midfielder Giggs and Edwin van der Sar, three years the Welshman's senior, both started at Eastlands.

United took just 17 minutes to find a breakthrough. Anderson passed to Antonio Valencia on the right touchline and after stepping inside Craig Bellamy, the winger crossed to the near post. City goalkeeper Shay Given pushed away Wayne Rooney's initial connection from close range, but Giggs was primed to tap home the rebound from two meters. It was Giggs' first goal in a Manchester derby for 14 years.

The goal spurred City into putting more pressure on the visitors. Nigel de Jong came close to leveling when he forced Van der Sar into a fine one-handed save from 30 meters.

And Craig Bellamy's pace was causing problems for United right back Rafael da Silva. When da Silva tugged at Bellamy as he entered the box, referee Mike Dean awarded a penalty, which Tevez slammed into the net three minutes before halftime.

"It is the kind of decision that has gone against us tonight but could go for us on another day," Ferguson said.

City looked more lethal after the break — and went ahead in the 65th minute.

When Van der Sar only half-cleared Bellamy's corner, Pablo Zabaleta's off-target effort was turned back into the danger area by Vincent Kompany and Tevez headed home.

City clung on to the victory despite United's relentless attacking as the home fans chanted "Fergie, Fergie sign him up," just as the United faithful had bellowed in the final matches of last season.



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