Scholes returns as United hold on

The big surprise for Manchester United before their FA Cup third round tie was the new signing in midfield. It turned out to be Paul Scholes, the 37 year-old Old Trafford legend lured out of retirement to provide cover for the remainder of the season.

Scholes wasn’t needed for a dramatic first half in which United ran up a 3-goal lead. The match turned on referee Chris Foy’s inexplicable decision to send off Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany for an untidy but innocuous challenge in the 12th minute.

Wayne Rooney's two goals and a spectacular volley from Danny Welbeck seemed to have decided the tie by half-time. United were in the mood to seek revenge for their 6-1 defeat to City in the Premier League. Instead City seized back the initiative, scored twice, and might have had a penalty when Phil Jones handled in the box. Foy ignored the City claims.

The Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini didn’t want to talk about the referee, instead focusing on the spirit and fight shown by his team.

Ferguson was happy to welcome Scholes back to his squad, as United attempt to overhaul City in the Premier League as well as the FA Cup. He was less impressed at the carelessness that left his team frantically holding on to their lead against 10 men in the late stages of the tie.

David Beckham was in the crowd to watch the game. Or maybe sign for United. Who knows, perhaps Ferguson needs to reassemble the classic 1999 midfield line-up.

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