MAN UNITED 1, MAN CITY 2.
Manchester United will have to keep the champagne on ice for longer than anticipated as their stroll to the Barclays Premier League title might not be the formality it appeared.
Neighbours City’s triumph at Old Trafford kept alive their slender hopes of holding on to their championship crown.
City reduced the deficit to 12 points on a night when United could have moved 18 clear with only 21 points left to play for.
It was win or bust for City and they delivered in style as they inflicted only United’ second home league defeat of the campaign
And it was a night when City rekindled memories of their incredible 6-1 victory at Old Trafford in their title-winning campaign.
City manager Roberto Mancini conceded he believes the title race is over, even though his side triumphed in the derby adding it is important they finish the season in second place.
Mancini said: “The title race is finished, but it is important we finish in second position.
“We played well and deserved to win and showed the character and fight for second place.”
Sir Alex Ferguson described it as an intense and competitive game involving the two best teams in the country.
He thought his side was the best side in the second half and deserved to win.
Ferguson claimed City’s first goal ought to have been disallowed with Carlos Tevez offside and obscuring the view of keeper David De Gea so was interfering with play.
He took positives describing Robin van Persie’s performance as “fantastic” while the fit-again Wayne Rooney will have benefitted for playing for 85 minutes.
It was a match which came to life in an incident packed second half which was a contrast to the opening period in which each side cancelled out the other.
Rafael struck the angle of post and crossbar in the dying seconds of the half which was by far the best chance of the first 45 minutes.
Old Trafford was silenced soon after the restart when City snatched the lead when Gareth Barry’s probing run and Samir Nasri’s intelligent lay off set up James Milner whose drive from outside the penalty area flew low to the right of De Gea.
United were back on level terms just short of the hour when City captain Vincent Kompany inadvertently put through his own goal.
Phil Jones met van Persie’s free kick at the far post, but his header was going wide until it diverted into the net off the back of Kompany.
Danny Welbeck had a couple of decent goal attempts which were saved by Joe Hart as the momentum swung the way of United.
City regained the lead with 11 minutes left through substitute Sergio Aguero.
The Argentine had only been on the field for eight minutes when he produced a piece of magic before scoring with a brilliant finish.
Aguero burst forward but was driven wide right by the United defence before he fired an angled shot high into the roof of the net.
United sent on Antonio Valencia and Javier Hernandez but they failed to provide the spark for a second equalising goal.
Indeed, the closest United came to drawing level came in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Patrice Evra directed a header straight at Hart as City celebrated a second successive league win at Old Trafford.