Every goal that Carlos Tevez scores for Manchester City must feel like a dagger to the heart of Sir Alex Ferguson. No matter how much the Manchester United manager tries to deny it, the decision not to sign the Argentine striker permanently after his two-year loan spell looks to be a costly mistake. Tevez emphasised the point twice on Tuesday to leave the Blue half of the city celebrating a 2-1 victory in the first leg of their Carling Cup semi final showdown. He also made sure Gary Neville got the message too. On the eve of the Eastlands encounter, the United captain had backed his manager over not keeping Tevez by saying he was not worth £25 million. When he smashed home the penalty equaliser - after Ryan Giggs had tapped in a 17th minute opener - Tevez had an exchange with Neville, who was warming up on the touchline. The United defender appeared to make a one-fingered gesture and Tevez responded with his own hand movements to suggest he should keep his mouth closed. United were silenced in the 65th minute when Tevez headed home to give City the advantage for next Wednesday's second leg at Old Trafford. Pablo Zabaleta revealed Neville's words had fired up his teammate and countryman more than ever. "Some Manchester United players talked about him and he showed what a top-class player he was," said the City player. "The United fans know he was a big loss because he was a great player for them. For him, it was a difficult decision to change a team in the same city, but everyone knows he gives 100 per cent. Every team wants Carlos Tevez, and we have a great opportunity to enjoy him at this club. I am sure that Carlos will try to take Manchester City right to the top. He can repeat this in the second game." That second game, with a Wembley final at stake, has all the ingredients of being another classic. City could be strengthened too by the return of striker Emmanuel Adebayor. He was given time off following the shootings that saw Togo pull out of the Africa Cup of Nations, but Roberto Mancini, the City manager, said: "I hope that Adebayor comes back in these [next few] days." For all his pre-match mind games, Ferguson showed how much the game meant when he sent out his strongest side. Of the youngsters and fringe players expected to figure, only Rafael da Silva did so. And it was the Brazilian right-back who was involved in the 40th minute incident that changed the match. Rafael could not keep up with Craig Bellamy when the Welshman roared into the box and halted him with a tug of the shirt. The initial offence looked to be outside the box, but as Bellamy tumbled inside, the referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot. After two minutes of waiting, Tevez smashed the spot-kick past Edwin van der Sar. Yet it had all started badly for City following a first derby goal since 1996 for Giggs. A long raking pass from Patrice Evra saw the play shift quickly from left to right and Antonio Valencia nutmegged Bellamy, before sending over a dangerous low cross. It was met by Wayne Rooney and Shay Given reacted well to push the ball out, but only into the path of Giggs, who could not miss from two yards. But City did not wilt and with the exuberance of Bellamy and Tevez, there is always hope. They were devlish and dynamic and combined again for the winner. Bellamy swung over a corner from the right that van der Sar failed to clear properly. It dropped for Zabaleta, whose header found Vincent Kompany in space and he hooked the ball across for the lurking Tevez to head home. He might have been the home hero with his goals, but Given deserves an honourable mention for his brilliance to thwart United, who were rallied by Rooney. A point-blank save denied Giggs a second before Rooney was frustrated three times. In the 77th minute, he linked up with Michael Owen - the matchwinner in United's 4-3 Premier League success in September - but Given spread himself to block and Nedum Onuoha cleared off the line from Owen's rebound attempt. Rooney then worked another opening, but was stunned when Given tipped over his fierce finish. Valencia somehow volleyed wide after flying in to meet Evra's left-wing cross and Given made another solid low stop to his right to push out Rooney's drive as City held out. Ferguson, though, is confident his side can overturn the deficit - and he had "no issue" with Tevez. "We have had a few players leave the club and score against us. There is no issue," he said. "Football can be like that. It can bite you. I am happy with the players we have got. We played well and dominated the match. We were reasonably in control, but we had a mad five minutes before half-time that brought them back into the game. Everyone can see the penalty for themselves. It is the kind of decision that has gone against us, but could go for us on another day."