Wembley Dream Is Over
Attendance: 73, 374
A spirited second half performance saw Derby County outscore Manchester United but the damage had been done in the first half as they went down 4-3 on aggregate to the world champions to narrowly miss out on the Carling Cup Final and Wembley. Two late goals from substitute Giles Barnes saw a jittery end to the match for United but in truth their young side were good value for the win. The game looked over by halftime with a combination of good play by United and defensive mistakes by Derby giving the home side a 3-0 lead and, despite the defeat, there are positives to be taken from the game in the form of the second half improvement and the spirit that Nigel Clough`s side showed
Paul Connolly and Jordan Stewart returned to the starting line-up and Martin Albrechtsen moved across to the centre to partner Andy Todd. There was also a recall for Steve Davies on the left with Kris Commons moving to the central role behind Hulse that he filled so effectively in the first leg. Indeed the Scotland international almost gave Derby a dream start on six minutes picking the ball up in midfield before running at the United defence and unleashing an effort from 25 yards that narrowly missed the top left-hand corner of Foster`s goal with the keeper beaten.
Jordan Stewart made good progress down the left only for Paul Green to have his shot blocked on the edge of the box but the home side were in front after quarter of an hour. Nani easily beat Teale before shooting from 20 yards and, although Carroll got a hand to the effort ad perhaps could have done better, the ball flew past the Derby keeper to level the tie on aggregate. Tevez had an effort from similar range moments later as United stepped up the pressure but the Derby defence were allowing them to shoot from just outside the area.
United found themselves two in front on 21 minutes after O`Shea was given room in the area, played onside by Teale, and he took a touch before sliding his shot low past Carroll. Wellbeck nearly made it three when but his effort from a cross bounced into the ground and was touched over for a corner and Anderson was the next to line-up a shot but his 25 yarder was wide of the mark.
Steve Davies beat Rafael at the other end but wasted his cross in a rare foray forward for the visitors and United were soon 3-0 ahead when Giggs knocked the ball to Rafael after a corner and the cross into the area found Tevez unmarked six yards out to head the ball home. Rafael then played a one-two with Giggs on the edge of the area but he could only fire into the side netting when in on goal. At the other end Commons curled a free kick over the wall but also over the bar and a tame Gary Teale effort from distance was comfortably gathered by Foster as Derby tried to get back in it before halftime but they reached halftime 3-1 behind on aggregate.
Robbie Savage came on for Steve Davies at the start of the second half and his first contribution was a silly foul on Nani just outside of the box that saw Giggs clip the free kick over the wall only to be denied by Carroll at full stretch. Tevez then thought he`d scored his second of the match after being played in by Nani but the flag was up for offside as the Argentinean rolled home. Ryan Giggs was replaced by Cristiano Ronaldo as Alex Ferguson gave the Portuguese winger a run-out.
Hulse escaped down the right as Derby pushed forward and his cross was somehow cleared across the face of the goal by Neville who just a foot to the ball. Barazite was then brought off the bench to replace Todd in a change that saw Addison move to the back and Paul Green move back to the centre of midfield to allow him the berth on the right of midfield. Derby were getting on top and a spell of pressure saw efforts from Commons, Hulse and Green although none of them really troubled Foster and Giles Barnes came off the bench for Commons in a last change by Nigel Clough.
A cross from the right by Connolly found Hulse but the striker couldn`t get his header on target as it passed narrowly over and they were handed a lifeline in the tie with ten minutes remaining when Green turned in the area and was clipped by Evans. The referee pointed to the spot and up stepped Giles Barnes to confidently fire the penalty to Foster`s right and put The Rams back in with a chance at 3-2 on aggregate.
Ronaldo and Nani both had efforts gathered by Carroll and there were shouts for a foul as Albrechtsen eased Tevez aside on the edge of the area but nothing was given. Barnes then got his head to a free kick from wide but his flicked effort was straight into the hands of Foster and United finished the tie off two minutes from time as Tevez was clipped by Carroll in the area resulting in a penalty and a yellow card for the keeper. Ronaldo took the kick and fired his penalty low to Carroll`s right to give his side a 4-1 lead and a passage to Wembley. There was time for one more twist as Barnes curled a 25 yard free kick over the wall and in off the post to bring the aggregate score back to 4-3 but they couldn`t get the ball in the United half in the remaining minutes as the home side saw out the game to book their place in the Carling Cup final.