A stoppage time header from Wayne Rooney has sent Manchester United to the final of the League Cup at Wembley after a thrilling 4-3 aggregate win in their semi-final tie against rivals City.
The in-form England star struck in the second minute of added time after getting between two City defenders to convert a superb cross from veteran Ryan Giggs.
After a goalless first half, the hosts looked to be cruising to their second successive final when Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick both found the net.
However, former United man Carlos Tevez bagged his third goal of the tie after 76 minutes to leave the sides deadlocked at three goals apiece on aggregate.
United started bright, but City slowly grew into the game, and Rio Ferdinand was perhaps lucky to escape punishment for a flailing arm which struck Tevez, and also for a challenge in the penalty area where he looked to have gotten more man than ball.
Rooney was his usual industrious self up front and was a constant threat, forcing Given into a smart save down low to his left. The much maligned Nani also impressed, continuing on from his strong showing against Hull at the weekend.
A small minority of United fans threatened to take the shine of the win after they pelted City striker Craig Bellamy with objects as he prepared to take a corner early in the second half. The Welsh international appeared to be struck by a coin and no doubt the incident will be investigated by the FA.
City appeared to switch off after the incident, and looked hesitant in defence to allow United their two goals, though both were finished well by the Red Devils’ midfield partnership.
The introduction of Emmanuel Adebayor for his first appearance since being a victim of a shooting with Togo during the Africa Cup of Nations appeared to galvanise City and Tevez’s strike was just reward for his side’s efforts.
However the 34 wait for a trophy continues for the blue half of Manchester after Rooney’s late strike sets up a final clash with Aston Villa at Wembley on February 28.
“I thought Wayne was much better today than he was on Saturday and he scored four goals against Hull,” said United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
“His control, his leading of the line and his penetration was absolutely fantastic tonight. It was a wonderful performance and true, world-class display.”
Man Utd – Van der Sar, R Da Silva (Brown 74), Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Fletcher, Scholes, Carrick, Nani (Valencia 90), Rooney, Giggs. Subs not used: Kuszczak, Brown, Owen, Berbatov, Park, Vidic, Valencia.
Man City – Given, Richards, Kompany, Boyata, Garrido (Ireland 64), De Jong, Barry, Zabaleta, Wright-Phillips (Adebayor 72), Tevez, Bellamy. Subs not used: Taylor, Onuoha, Ireland, Sylvinho, Petrov, Adebayor, Ibrahim.
Referee – Howard Webb.