FOOTBALL: Sharpe rounds off United's lucky day - Sport - The Independent

FOOTBALL: Sharpe rounds off United's lucky day

Manchester United 2 Manchester City 1

With a wave of his arm Alan Wilkie yesterday lifted himself out of Manchester United's chamber of horrors and into their hall of fame. Wilkie, the man whose red card preceded Eric Cantona's kung-fu kick and eight-month ban, redeemed himself in the eyes of the Old Trafford faithful in the most dramatic manner yesterday.

United were facing their first home derby defeat for 22 years - and in the FA Cup fifth round to boot - when the referee from Chester-le-Street awarded a penalty for holding in the penalty area. The alleged victim, inevitably, was Cantona, and he was almost as astonished as the offender, Michael Frontzeck.

True, the German did have his arm across the Frenchman's shoulders as Ryan Giggs' 40th-minute corner swept across, but the ball was passing way over their heads. The contact was of the sort which goes unpunished across the country every Saturday. In the context of a match like this, it was like prosecuting someone for littering during a riot.

Cantona converted the spot-kick with customary aplomb and United, having trailed to Uwe Rosler's well-taken 11th minute goal, were on their way. Their second was simply a matter of time, though City were harbouring hopes of a replay when it finally came from a brilliant finish by Lee Sharpe.

United's good fortune continued after the final whistle when they were given a home draw in the quarter-finals, against the winners of the Swindon and Southampton tie.

While United dream of a third successive Wembley visit City have only a relegation battle to face. They will meet it with a bitter taste in their mouths. "It all hinged on that decision and it was a shocker," said Alan Ball, the City manager. "I ask you, 'Would he have given it at the other end?' I very much doubt it. Jockeying for position at a corner is part-and-parcel of the game. When he blew everyone was bewildered, wondering what he had blown for."

Wilkie himself was unrepentant."I would give the decision again. I have no qualms about it," he said. Alan Hansen, watching for BBC Television, called it a "disgrace".

It was a pity that such an excellent match turned so controversially. This was a game for the committed, unlike the previous derby, when ground redevelopment meant City had no supporters. They had 8,000 in attendance yesterday.

The edge quickly showed on the pitch, Eric Cantona and Michael Brown squared up inside the opening minute, then Roy Keane was booked for upending Georgi Kinkladze. Keane was fortunate to stay on the pitch. His later reaction to Brown treading on Nicky Butt precipitated a full-scale fracas. His foul on Kinkladze failed to distract the Georgian. For 20 minutes he was the outstanding player, and he created the opening goal with an astute through ball which Rosler carefully lobbed over Peter Schmeichel.

With Cantona tightly marshalled, United began to follow Ferguson's pre- match instructions and attack the wings.

It was from there that United won the game but, first, they had to get back in it. They nearly did so by their own endeavours, Keane bringing a joint goal-line save from Immel and Brown with a header from a Giggs' corner. The penalty was awarded from the subsequent corner.

The second period was all United. With Butt and Keane dominant. Yet City held out. Giggs headed over and Immel denied Sharpe and Keane. Then, with 12 minutes left, Giggs again went down the left. He drew the defence before releasing the ball to Philip Neville, whose precise pull-back was volleyed in by Sharpe. United exulted, City fell silent. Again.

Goals: Rosler (12) 0-1; Cantona (pen 40) 1-1; Sharpe (78) 2-1.

Manchester United (4-4-2): Schmeichel; Irwin, Bruce, Pallister, P Neville; Giggs, Butt, Keane, Sharpe; Cantona, Cole. Substitutes not used: May, Coton (gk), Scholes.

Manchester City (4-3-1-2): Immel; Summerbee, Symons, Curle, Frontzeck; Lomas, Clough, Brown; Kinkladze; Quinn (Creaney, 80), Rosler. Substitutes not used: Abazi, Margetson (gk).

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).

Bookings: Manchester Utd: Keane, Cole, Irwin, Pallister. Manchester City: Brown, Curle.

Man of the match: Butt.

Attendance: 42,692.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
i100
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

Project Manager (upgrades, rollouts, migrations)

£350 - £425 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project Manager - 3 mont...

DT Teacher -Key stage 3 all areas

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a DT teache...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week