Robin van Persie scored an injury-time winner to give Manchester United victory in today’s Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium. As United celebrated, Rio Ferdinand was struck by an object which drew blood from a cut close to his eye. A City supporter then ran onto the pitch and had to be restrained by Joe Hart before being carted away by stewards.
The behavior of the City fans at the end of the game will dominate the headlines, but this was a huge win for United. After being pipped for the title last season on goal difference, Fergie went out at added Robin van Persie this summer to get more scoring power. And it is working as United have scored 40 goals in 16 Premier League games (2.5 goals per game) this season.
Two goals down to a first-half Wayne Rooney double, Manchester City thought they had snatched a point when Pablo Zabaleta followed up Yaya Toure’s strike by driving home five minutes from time. But after Rafael had been fouled on the edge of the area by Tevez, Van Persie’s free-kick flicked off Samir Nasri before cannoning in off the far post.
This was a performance that summed up United’s season. United looked dangerous ever time they attacked with speed through Rooney, Valencia, Young and van Persie.
But defensively, the longer the game went the more the United midfield got overrun, and the more pressure was put on the United back four, especially when Tevez came on for Balotelli in the second half. Why Mancini did not start Tevez is a mystery.
City dominated the first 15 minutes but United hot then with two classic counter-attacks. The first started deep in the United half when Van Persie cushioned a delightful return pass from Ashley Young’s flicked header, allowing the winger to drive over halfway and drill a low cross to the edge of the area for Rooney. Surrounded by three City defenders, Rooney took the ball to his left before cutting a shot back to the near post that Hart had no chance of keeping out.
The second goal came down the right when Antonio Valencia found an overlapping Rafael with a perfectly-weighted pass which the Brazilian crossed into the danger zone to an unmarked Rooney to make it 2-0.
Rooney’s first goal saw him pass Sir Bobby Charlton at the top of United’s scoring charts in Manchester derbies, while his second made him the youngest player to score 150 Premier League goals.
Then they game took a turn within two minutes in the second half. First Ashley Young had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside when he scored from the rebound after a Van Persie shot that had cannoned back off a post.
City then went down the pitch and scored. De Gea produced brilliant saves to deny Tevez and David Silva, but he was unable to keep out a third strike on goal from Yaya Toure, who calmly rolled Tevez’s cut-back into the bottom corner.
The goal brought the City fans to life and the intensity got amped up even more. Van Persie headed Cleverley’s cross over before De Gea somehow kept Silva’s shot out at the other end when it flicked off his shoulder and onto the crossbar. City had the momentum though and when Tevez’s corner was half-cleared into Zabaleta’s path, the City player’s shot found the net through a crowded penalty area. Questions will be asked later as to why no United player picked up Zabaleta on the corner. He stood at the end edge of the penalty box completely unmarked.
There was one final twist to come, though, as Van Persie stepped up to end City’s 37-match unbeaten run at home to send United six points clear at the top.