Cristiano Ronaldo scored a late penalty to secure Manchester United's place in the English League Cup Final as they survived a late Derby rally to seal a 4-3 aggregate win at Old Trafford.

Tuesday's 4-2 second leg victory was secured when Ronaldo, a second-half substitute for Ryan Giggs, netted from the spot after Carlos Tevez had been felled by former United goalkeeper Roy Carroll in the closing stages. But although United ultimately cruised to the victory, the sight of Anderson being stretchered off at the end of the game took the shine off the result for Sir Alex Ferguson's English, European and FIFA world champions.

United's uncharacteristically poor showing at Pride Park in the first-leg ensured the Championship strugglers arrived at Old Trafford with a 1-0 advantage courtesy of a Kris Commons wonder strike. Few gave Nigel Clough's team any hope of holding onto that lead and booking a place at Wembley for the final on 1 March. But United's youngsters have displayed fallibility in cup competitions in recent seasons, with the likes of Exeter, Southend and Coventry all inflicting embarrassment on Ferguson's team, so Derby had something to cling to. Clough had urged his players to take the game to United after warning that defensive tactics would merely encourage the home team to attack at will and they almost profited from their ambitious approach as early as the sixth minute when Commons went close to scoring again.

The breakthrough goal came in the 16th minute when Portuguese winger Nani, whose future at United has been placed in doubt following reports of a move for Wigan's Ecuadorian midfielder Antonio Valencia, levelled the aggregate scores with a stunning strike from 25 yards. United still needed to get their noses in front in the tie, however, and they were able to do that six minutes later when poor Derby defending allowed John O'Shea to score from 12 yards after he had been teed up by teenage striker Danny Welbeck.

Derby were now faced with a damage limitation exercise, but United continued to pour forward and Ferguson's men looked likely to score at every opportunity. Carroll denied Welbeck from close range before the inevitable third goal arrived in the 34th minute when Tevez headed in Rafael's cross from six yards to claim his ninth goal of the season. It was also Tevez's sixth goal in the League Cup this season, which reflects his increased involvement in this much-maligned competition.

The fans might want him to stay beyond the expiry of his loan deal at the end of the campaign, but whether Tevez is content with a diet of League Cup outings and a substitute role when the big games come around is another matter. Tevez's goal all but secured victory for United although late penalties converted by Derby's Giles Barnes and Ronaldo, plus an injury-time free-kick by Barnes ensured a lively finale.

Manchester United 4 - 2 Derby Highlight


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