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The Best Manchester Derby Moments in History

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Wayne Rooney scores a stunner on way to 19th title - 2011

Many see this as one of the greatest goals in Premier League history and rightfully so, as not just was the execution faultless, the timing for both club and player was poetically beautiful.

United were on their way to a record-equalling 19th league title in 2010/11, something Sir Alex Ferguson targetted 24 years ago, however, with City gradually becoming a threat and sitting in third, Fergie's men were being held at home to their local rivals meaning Arsenal were set to go top.

With the game approaching its latter stages, Portuguese winger Nani whipped in a ball that arrived just behind the waiting Wayne Rooney, forcing the Englishman to readjust his whole body. The execution itself needs little explanation, as it's one we've all seen may times before.

However, what makes this more historic is how this was only Rooney's fifth Premier League goal of the season at this stage in a season that looked like he could leave the club. The celebration, though, said more than words itself.

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City to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 @ 7/4

Mourinho's Best day as United boss - 2018

Pep Guardiola’s 2017/18 City side will go down as one of the greatest teams to ever grace the Premier League, as they eventually became the first side to ever accumulate 100 points in one season, which surpasses any record United ever set in the league by quite some margin.

In April that campaign, they had the opportunity to seal their third title against their biggest rivals, as a win at the Etihad would crown them champions in front of the 20-time winners of the top flight. After storming into a 2-0 first half lead, Jose Mourinho’s United looked dead and buried and it seemed like it could be four or five come the end of the match and be a truly magical day for the blue side of Manchester.

However, an inspired second half performance from Paul Pogba helped to complete a comeback for the ages, as United won the game 3-2, denying City the satisfaction of lifting the trophy after a Manchester derby thanks to a Pogba double and a Chris Smalling winner in the second half.

City, of course, still won the title, but it came a week later as United lost to West Bromwich Albion at home.

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Utd to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 @ 7/1

The 6-1 - 2011

In a game that saw the power in Manchester start to shift as United welcomed their neighbours to Old Trafford in 2011. The game early on in the season was looked at as an early shoe in for the title, but with United defending champions and City two clear ahead of them at the top, it was impossible to call.

The champions seemed powerless to stop City and despite a Darren Fletcher goal, there was only ever going to be one outcome when Jonny Evans received his red card at the end of the first half. Goals from Mario Ballotelli in either half, Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko (2) and David Silva condemned United to their worst home defeat in 55 years and it remains to this day, their worst ever defeat in the Premier League, alongside another 6-1 hiding at Old Trafford to Tottenham Hotspur in 2020.

To make matters worse, United would concede the title to City with practically the last kick of the season on goal difference, with just eight goals being the difference.

Kompany's famous header - 2012

The reverse fixture of the fixture described above that season also saw City emerge victorious, as a Vincent Kompany bullet header was enough to seal a 1-0 victory and put one hand on the title.

Just three weeks prior, United boasted an eight-point lead over their noisy neighbours after they lost to Arsenal thanks to a, believe or not, Mikel Arteta goal, and as a result, United were so far as the firm favourites to win the title, some bookmakers even cashed out on them winning it with six games to go.

However, following a surprise defeat to Wigan Athletic and a 4-4 draw with Everton which they led 4-2 at home, their advantage had been eradicated. This win for Mancini’s side would then put them as the favourites to win the title as they went ahead on goal difference.

A Liverpool great wins the Manchester Derby - 2009

Michael Owen’s time at Old Trafford can certainly be seen as underwhelming, considering the standard he had set for himself previously in his career, especially at Liverpool. However, his finest moment in a United shirt came on one of the biggest occasions, during a Manchester derby in September 2009.

With the game levelled at 3-3 in the 96th minute, Ryan Giggs found Owen in acres of space in the penalty area, with the former England striker poking the ball past Shay Given which sparked celebrations of the highest order at Old Trafford, silencing the blue faithful in the corner of Old Trafford just on year after they received their oil money.

Ferguson later claimed this was the greatest derby of all time and in 2012, this match was voted as the best in the Premier League era and rightfully so.

Denis Law relegates United - 1974

The 1964 Ballon d’Or winner Denis Law had enjoyed a highly successful spell at United and was part of the club’s first-ever European Cup win in 1968. However, in 1974, it was a Law goal that would help seal United's fate, as they were relegated from the First Division. The goal didn't directly relegate United, as results elsewhere forced that, however, even if these results didn't happen, Law would have then been directly responsible.

In a Manchester derby where United had to avoid defeat to be in with a shout of survival, the ball fell to Law in the box, who coolly backheeled the ball past Alex Stepney, helping cement their place in the Second Division.

United had been in a serious decline for a few years following Sir Matt Busby’s move into a board role, away from first team duties. However, this remains arguably the club's darkest moment on the pitch.

The FA Cup semi-finals change the future of Manchester - 2010

This game could perhaps be marked as a key moment in Manchester City’s meteoric rise to European powerhouse status, as a Yaya Toure goal was enough to see the Citizens past United in the FA Cup semi-finals.

City would then go on to face Stoke in the final, where Toure was once again the hero and with this win, the club won their first major trophy in 36 years and changed the complexion of Manchester derbies forever.

A turning point in the clubs’ history, City have since won 13 honours in the subsequent 10 years and if it wasn't for this semi-final victory over United, things could be very different.

The last hoorah before the 2020 lockdown

In hindsight, this goal was perhaps more significant that we expected it to be at the time for footballing and world reasons.

Back in March 2020, the Premier League was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic and the league would not return for three months. Just a few days prior to the announcement, United took on City in what would be the last monumental footballing moment before Project Restart in June.

United ran away 2-0 winners this time, as the usually so reliable Ederson was under the spotlight for both goals. In the first half, he failed to keep out an Anthony Martial effort, before throwing the ball straight to Scott McTominay towards the end of the game, who was able to keep his 40-yard effort on target and put the ball into an open net.

The celebrations were like that of the Owen moment in the 4-3 11 years prior, and it also meant that United did the double on City for the first time in that time as well.

Robin van Persie steps one foot on United's Hall of Fame

Following City’s historic title win in 2012, Ferguson felt he needed to bring in reinforcements to bring the Premier League back to Old Trafford, as City were continously buying some of Europe's very best.

The United boss saw Arsenal captain Robin van Persie as the difference-maker on their quest to a 20th title, as he bagged 30 goals the season prior with Arsenal. The Dutchman made an immediate impact, settling a derby game at the Etihad just three months into his time in Manchester.

After a Rooney brace gave the Red Devils a 2-0 lead, Toure and Pablo Zabaleta brought the game back on equal terms and in what was seen as a must-not-lose fixture for both, a draw would have made the title winner even tougher to predict than it already was.

In the dying seconds of the match, van Persie lined up a free kick which would bend into the far corner of the goal, aided by a Samir Nasri deflection. This signalled heartbreak for Roberto Mancini, who had too tried to sign the striker that summer, before losing out to their Manchester rivals because the ex-Arsenal man 'listened to the little boy inside'.