By Emma Whitney.
With the 169th Manchester Derby just around the corner, Emma Whitney takes a look at the Top 3 recent Premier League examples of one of the best grudge matches in world football.
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3) City 4 – 1 United
September 22 2013, Etihad Stadium
At the end of 2012-13, United had wrested their EPL title back from City; this derby, therefore, provided the Blues with the chance to exact revenge on their neighbours and prove they were more than a one championship novelty. Manuel Pellegrini’s men got off to an excellent start, inspired by an outstanding performance from captain Vincent Kompany. But it was no surprise who opened the scoring after 16 minutes. An exquisite back-heel from Samir Nasri found Aleksandar Kolarov overlapping on the left; the Serbian’s cross was slightly behind City striker Sergio Aguero, but he somehow managed to connect with his left foot, shooting home.
The Blues increased their lead just before half-time, Yaya Toure kneeing in Alvaro Negredo’s header from one of those rare footballing beasts: a decent City corner. City upped the ante even more second half, scoring twice within the first five minutes. Both goals involved the excellent Kompany, whose pinpoint pass started the move for the third goal off, finding Aguero in the middle of the park. Kun was then teed up nicely by Negredo to volley home his second, and City’s third.
By now, Blues’ fans were in dreamland, yet the score was about to get even more emphatic. Kompany’s box-to-box run epitomised City’s desire, and Nasri netted Jesus Navas’ thunderous cross. The Belgian’s celebration after City’s fourth surely brought a tear to many a Blue eye, showing how much the scoreline meant to player and fans alike. David Moyes’ Reds, to their credit, stemmed the onslaught, thanks in part to the introduction of Tom Cleverley on 52 minutes. Wayne Rooney salvaged a modicum of respect for United, making him the top scorer in the history of the Manchester derby, with 11 goals to date. Despite taking their foot off the gas, the signs were encouraging for City, hinting at the free-scoring style that would soon take off at the Etihad. Now they were unquestionably one of the best sides in world football, and – more importantly, perhaps – the best team in Manchester.
2) United 4 – 3 City
September 21 2009, Old Trafford
The second best Premier League era Manchester derby was a much closer affair between the two sides. A dramatic match that imitated a frenetic, out-of-control pendulum, United’s victory at home over City in 09/10 had everything: from goals and controversy to raw emotion. Rooney ensured United got off to the best possible start, pouncing within minutes to put the Reds 1-0 up but City hit back through Gareth Barry less than 15 minutes later.
The Reds didn’t have long to wait before their lead over City was restored after the break, thanks to Darren Fletcher’s early header. Minutes later, however, Craig Bellamy’s sublime 25-yard strike cannoned past Ben Foster. United then heaped the pressure on City, who were only kept in the game thanks to the goalkeeping heroics of Shay Given. But his resistance was eventually breached again when Fletcher got his second header of the match, this time from Ryan Giggs’ free-kick. Then with 90 on the clock, Rio Ferdinand gave possession to City midfielder Martin Petrov, whose pass to Bellamy set the Welsh striker on course to bag his second of the game and City’s third.
Four additional minutes of stoppage time were indicated, and by the time the ball rolled into substitute Michael Owen’s feet, five-and-a-half minutes later, hearts were in mouths throughout Old Trafford, and City eyes were firmly on watches. His strike slotted past Given, crushing City at the last in a match widely regarded as the best Manchester derby of all time. ‘Fergie time’ was born, and the Reds had sent a message to their noisy, newly-rich neighbours.Embed from Getty Images
1) United 1 – 6 City
October 23 2011, Old Trafford
One FA Cup semi-final triumph over their rivals later, and City had silverware in their cabinet for the first time in 35 years. Though eagerly anticipated, few would have imagined that this game would be a seminal match in footballing history. Roberto Mancini’s team claimed first blood, thanks to a sweet strike from Mario Balotelli – famously wearing the ‘Why Always Me?’ T-shirt. Just one minute into the second half, Jonny Evans pulled back the Italian enigma on the edge of the box; with the Northern Irish defender as last man, the decision to send him off was an easy one for referee Mark Clattenburg. United’s gameplan was in tatters, and City could smell blood. Balotelli then coolly slotted home a second goal.
City’s third goal, on 69 minutes, was pure showboating. Toure’s exquisite pass was flicked back by Balotelli to James Milner; Micah Richards picked the ball up on the right and crossed quickly for Aguero to slam in City’s third, before United knew what had hit them. United pulled a goal back, Fletcher’s wonderful shot arrowing into the top right-hand corner of Joe Hart’s goal. For the Blues, the fear kicked in; Typical City would throw this away, allow United to get something from the game, maybe even nick it. But City were back, and what happened next would go on to prove it.
Joleon Lescott and Edin Dzeko combined to grab City’s fourth of the game. Ninety minutes were already on the clock, but David Silva nutmegged his international team-mate David de Gea to score the Blues’ fifth. He then threaded the pass of the season through to Dzeko, who gleefully made it six. It was the first time the teams had met as Top Two sides; that City left Old Trafford still above their rivals, sent out a message to the rest of the world. Since October 2011, City have won five out of six league derbies, netting 13 compared to United’s 5. This fixture was undoubtedly the beginning of a new dawn, and therefore, deserves to be thought of as the Top Premier League era Manchester derby clash. The Blue Moon had started to rise.
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