Manchester United have gone six points clear at the top of the Barclay's Premier League with a 3-2 win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. Robin van Persie's last minute free-kick goal gave United all three points over their bitter rivals.
In front of Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall no less, United played arguably their strongest half of football all season in the first half as they frustrated City early on and grabbed an early goal. For a team that has made a bad habit of conceding first, Wayne Rooney's 16th minute goal was a breath of fresh air for the visitors as they took an early lead perhaps a bit against the run of play. City did enjoy the vast majority of possession in the opening 20 minutes or so of the first half but it was the Red Devil's lethal counter attack that unlocked the City defense. Van Persie started the attack towards goal with a clever pass to Ashley Young who played a nice ball into Rooney. Rooney's following shot looked to be a slight miss-hit but it made it passed the City defenders and caught goalkeeper Joe Hart on the wrong foot as the England keeper could do nothing but watch the ball trickle passed him and into the net. 1-0 up and United's offense continued to cause City's defense problems, helped, no doubt, by the unfortunate injury that captain Vincent Kompany picked up which forced him out of the game. Kolo Toure came into replace the Belgian defender and United grabbed a second goal in the 29th minute when Rooney slotted home a nice cross from Rafael. City were below par in the first half and none more so then under-fire striker Mario Balotelli who was largely anonymous for the entire half. United managed to make it into the dressing room with their 2-0 lead preserved.
Shortly after the re-start, Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to make a change due to an injury to Jonny Evans. Chris Smalling was brought on to try and stop the growing threat that City's offense were creating. Balotelli was brought off early into the second half to make way for Carlos Tevez who grabbed City's attack by the scruff of the neck. City started to cause United's defense problems and eventually scored a scrappy goal through Yaya Toure in the 60th minute. United's 2-1 lead looked to be slowly crumbling as wasteful possession and poor decision making plagued the side. Despite this, United should have had a third goal when van Persie fired an unstoppable shot that slammed off the cross-bar and was turned in by Young. The goal was incorrectly ruled offside by the linesmen. City grabbed another goal late in the 86th minute and it began to look like a draw or City win was on the cards. Ferguson added Danny Welbeck and Phil Jones and Welbeck made good contributions to the team with winning balls back for the attack. United managed to draw a foul on the right edge of the box and up stepped van Persie to take. The man who has constantly proven how he has been worth every penny spent came up huge yet again with a free kick that beat Hart and won the game for United. A poor wall formation by City and a slight deflection by Samir Nasri caused problems for Hart who was powerless to stop van Persie's strike.
As van Persie turned to celebrate with the United faithful, scenes took an ugly turn when a coin thrown at Rio Ferdinand made contact just above his eye cutting it. The police quickly moved in to try and apprehend the thrower but as Ferdinand was walking off, a City fan ran onto the pitch in an attempt to confront the United defender. Hart quickly stepped in front of the fan and the police dragged him off of the pitch. With the unnecessary actions of some moronic fans aside, United picked up a massive win over their closest title rivals at the moment. The Red Devils now move six points clear of City and have gone some way in correcting the dismal performances against their rivals last season. It was a solid all around performance from United with every player putting in a good shift to prove that the red half of Manchester is still the dominant half.
Man of the Match: Wayne Rooney. The England striker put in a massive performance picking up two goals and helping United control the game especially in the first half. Although the whole team played well, all creativity came through Rooney and United's win was largely thanks to him.
Manchester City: Joe Hart; Vincent Kompany (Kolo Toure), Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, Matija Nastasic; Samir Nasri, Gareth Barry, David Silva, Yaya Toure (Edin Dzeko); Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli (Carlos Tevez)
Manchester United: David de Gea; Rafael, Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans (Chris Smalling); Antonio Valencia (Phil Jones), Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley (Danny Welbeck); Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie
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