Michael Owen came off the bench to score on 95 minutes and 20 seconds and send Old Trafford home fans into raptures as Manchester United defeated fierce local rivals Manchester City by four goals to three in a phenomenal Barclays Premier League derby game.
The 4-3 scoreline meant the first Manchester Derby since Man City have put together a truly competitive squad lived up to – and even surpassed – expectations from the football world.
Man United were bookmakers favourites to win this match with home advantage, despite City’s excellent 100% record going into the game – and they looked good value for this tag when Wayne Rooney quickly got them off the mark on just two minutes.
Their lead would last only 15 minutes, though, as a Ben Foster goalkeeping error let Man United old boy Carlos Tevez steal the ball, before playing it to Gareth Barry, who coolly slotted home.
This goal seemed to inspire confidence in the Man City team, and they began to look more assured in possession after a shaky start where, in particular, Wayne Bridge, City’s left-back, really struggled to find a pass to a team-mate and retain possession. However, there weren’t many more chances of note in this first half. the teams came in with the scores level, at 1-1.
After half time, United came out the stronger, and soon Darren Fletcher had put United ahead once more, just three minutes after the break, heading home well from a Ryan Giggs cross.
United begun to pile on more pressure now, and, Ryan Giggs produced a fine save from Shay Given in the Man City goal before Craig Bellamy produced a stunning shot into the top corner of United’s goal. Only three minutes had elapsed since Fletcher’s goal.
United continued their dominant second half display, but City, aided by an excellent and assured display by Given, held fast until the 80th minute, when Fletcher and Giggs combined once more – a Giggs cross met by Fletcher’s head. 3-2.
United fans surely thought they must have sealed the win against their bitter rivals, however, Craig Bellamy once more had other ideas, scoring from an incredibly acute angle to take what looked like a valuable point away to the Champions. This goal came in the 90th minute.
However, Alex Ferguson had brought on Michael Owen on for Dimitar Berbatov, who had failed to beat Shay Given despite some good attempts. Owen would be the hero of the day, when, with over 95 minutes on the clock, he picked up the ball from Giggs, and buried it in the bottom right corner of Given’s goal.
The final whistle blew little over a minute later.
Mark Hughes, the former Manchester United darling, and current manager of Manchester City, looked furious. It was clear he felt too much injury time had been played – indeed, only four minutes of added time were shown on the fourth official’s board.
Every goal was scored by a British player in today’s Manchester derby – an Englishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman.
On reflection, United deserved their win, given their superior number of shots on target, and the fact that two of City’s goals came not only against the run of play, but from United mistakes. That being said, City could easily have taken a point here today. With the extra fire power their absent strikers would have provided, City may have got something from this match.
Football’s New World Order, in Manchester city, have stamped their new found authority on the Premier League’s elder Statesmen across Manchester. While United have the bragging rights this time, they will surely privately be worried by the quality demonstrated by their adversaries.
For City fans and neutrals, this upset to the status quo is a welcome boon. It also produced one of the most incredible, and truly competitive, Manchester derbies in living memory. Long may it continue.