Manchester City stalled Manchester United’s Premier League title bid with a 2-1 win against its rival that cut the gap at the top of the standings to 12 points with seven games remaining.
Substitute Sergio Aguero’s solo goal with 12 minutes left last night gave City back-to-back league wins at United’s Old Trafford stadium for the first time since 1972. James Milner’s deflected strike had put the visiting team ahead in the 51st minute before United tied it through a Vincent Kompany own goal.
United’s first loss in 19 league games leaves it on 77 points as it seeks a record-extending 20th English title. Defending champion City is second on 65 points, seven ahead of Chelsea, whom it meets in the F.A. Cup semifinals on April 14.
“It was a great result and the aim is to keep that momentum going until the end of the season,” Milner told Sky Sports. “Regardless of where we are in the table, a derby is a derby and you massively want to beat your rivals.”
City manager Roberto Mancini said the victory showed that his team didn’t deserve to have been 15 points behind United in the title race. It was only the second time the Red Devils failed to secure all three points at home in the league this season. Their only other loss at Old Trafford in the competition was to Tottenham on Sept. 29.
“It was a very intense game with the two best teams in the country,” United manager Alex Ferguson said. “We were unlucky to lose it. If you look at the whole thing, it’s not a bad day for us in terms of the performance level. You don’t want to a lose a derby game, but we’re OK.”
With 21 points available from the remaining seven matches, United needs another 10 points to regain the trophy City won on the final day of last season on goal difference after the Manchester rivals both finished with 89 points.
“This win changes nothing because the title race is finished now, but it was vital that we won for the second position,” Mancini said.
City took the lead six minutes after half time last night. Ryan Giggs lost possession to Gareth Barry near the halfway line. Barry drove forward and sent a low ball to Samir Nasri, who then teed up Milner to fire a low shot that deflected off United defender Phil Jones and past goalkeeper David de Gea into the corner of the net.
United tied it eight minutes later after Yaya Toure fouled Rafael da Silva. Robin van Persie’s driven free kick wasn’t collected by City goalkeeper Joe Hart and Jones’s header, which was directed across the goal, went into the net off the back of City defender Kompany.
Aguero got City’s winning goal seven minutes after coming on as a substitute. Toure fed a pass to the Argentine forward, who outpaced three United defenders as he weaved into the penalty area before firing an angled drive past De Gea into the roof of the net.
“The derby is always a special game and for us to be able to win is massive,” City captain Kompany said. “I do believe that the way we finish this season is going to have an impact on next season when we will start from the beginning. This is a really good game for us to have under our belts.”