Man City set up United FA Cup showdown

Manchester City 1 Reading 0

Manchester City will face Manchester United in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley next month after Micah Richards' header took the Blues past Reading in a last-eight tie at Eastlands today.

Richards settled a nervy confrontation against their npower Championship opponents when he rose to power David Silva's 73rd-minute corner past Alex McCarthy to send his side into a meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson's men.

City have met United in the last four once before, when the Blues came out on top 3-0 at Bramall Lane in 1926 before losing to Bolton in the final, which could in fact repeat itself.

This is a different era though. The hype will be massive as Roberto Mancini's men embark on their first semi-final since 1981 knowing victory over the club who have lorded it over them for so long will leave them one step away from the end of that 35-year trophy drought.

Having once again abandoned the traditional Monday draw to suit their television paymasters, the Football Association arranged for England coach Fabio Capello to pluck out the ball that confirmed who the winner of the late kick-off would face in the semi-finals.

For City, who have for so long watched their neighbours lift silverware whilst their cupboard remained bare, losing in the last minute in last season's Carling Cup semi-final the latest heartbreak, the pairing was something to relish and fear at the same time.

Reading began with confidence befitting a side boasting a seven-game unbeaten run, including a victory at Everton in the previous round.

Skipper Jobi McAnuff sparkled around the Blues box and Noel Hunt was not far off with an early header. City quickly started to dominate though, even if their attacks centred around the twinkle-toes of Silva.

If anything, the Spain star has started to eclipse Carlos Tevez as the Blues' most dangerous player. The pair combined to set up the returning Shaun Wright-Phillips, whose shot brought the first in a series of excellent saves from McCarthy. Silva pounced on the rebound but also failed to beat McCarthy, who denied the former Valencia man with his legs.

It was also Silva who set Yaya Toure free with a perfectly-timed pass.

The angle was slightly against the Ivorian, which probably explained his hesitancy and why he too failed to beat McCarthy.

Wright-Phillips thrashed a shot into the side-netting and Silva lashed one wide before half-time but the lethargy in City's play, so apparent in Kiev during the week, was in evidence again, despite the huge prize on offer.

After all that industry prior to the interval, Reading almost committed suicide immediately after it when Shane Long strained to reach an Aleksandar Kolarov corner and succeeded only in turning it towards his own goal. Even McCarthy was stranded as it flashed past him, so how relieved must Long have been to see Jay Tabb head it off the line from his far post station.

Funnily enough, it was a better effort than City could muster themselves.

Tevez twice fluffed his lines in excellent positions, first when Silva had rolled a low cross into the six-yard box, the second time when Wright-Phillips had been the provider.

There was an element of frustration about Toure's decision to belt a volley goalwards from an impossibly tight angle, although it startled McCarthy who could only push it away.

The young goalkeeper was required again to tip Richards' downward header over the bar.

Even before Thursday's grass allergy scare in Kiev, City fans had learned to expect the unexpected from Mario Balotelli, who was given 20 minutes to try and avoid a replay.

It was the Italian's unselfish running that earned the hosts the corner that brought their goal.

Five years ago, Richards scored a very similar last-minute equaliser in a fifth-round tie at Aston Villa. Richards was a teenager then but judging by the way he rose to meet Silva's curling effort, he has not lost any of his spring, nor his power as it flashed past McCarthy.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before