Manchester City reduced Manchester United's lead at the top of the Premier League to 12 points as they restored pride with an impressive victory at Old Trafford.
The reigning champions may have left it too late to prevent United claiming the title for the 20th time - but this deserved win hints at the pedigree that remains within Roberto Mancini's squad.
Substitute Sergio Aguero's brilliant winner 12 minutes from time gave City their second successive victory at Old Trafford, one which will hurt United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who saw his side produce a subdued performance.
James Milner gave the visitors the lead early in the second half before an own goal from City captain Vincent Kompany put United level.
The final word, however, went to Aguero, who demonstrated pace and a powerful finish to decide an occasionally ill-tempered derby which saw eight players cautioned.
United still have much room for manoeuvre with the commanding advantage at the top of the Premier League, but this was a composed, resilient performance from City that demonstrated what might have been.
"City's line-up, with only one recognised striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation, did not look that attacking at first, but Carlos Tevez helped them take control of the game with his play in United's half. He kept dropping deep to collect the ball and, every time it went into him, he held it up.
"His first touch was fantastic and he brought the three players immediately behind him - James Milner, Samir Nasri and David Silva - into the game, and in dangerous positions in the United half too - often in their area."
Mancini has insisted the gap between the sides is not as wide as their points deficit suggests and on this evidence he is right. The Italian's argument, however, falls down on grounds of consistency as this was United first loss in 18 league games.
Wayne Rooney was back in United's attack after recovering from the groin injury that kept him out of the FA Cup defeat at Chelsea. He was fired up and visibly furious with team-mate Danny Welbeck in the opening minutes when he selfishly chose to go alone with his team-mate unmarked in yards of space.
Phil Jones was alongside Rio Ferdinand in central defence and he showed his worth with a couple of crucial penalty area interceptions, most notably from Carlos Tevez as the former United striker closed in six yards out.
City were seeing plenty of the ball but neither side was able to create any clear-cut chances, although Rafael's looping effort bounced to safety off the angle of post and bar moments before half-time.
In among some heated exchanges, Rooney was booked for a two-footed lunge at Milner while Kompany was also given a yellow card from referee Mike Dean for a late challenge on Ashley Young.
City took the lead they just about deserved six minutes after the break - and it resulted from a rare error of judgement from veteran Ryan Giggs, whose needless back heel gifted possession to Gareth Barry. He found Samir Nasri before Milner's low 20-yard drive took a touch off Jones to beat David de Gea.
Jones was involved as the hosts drew level eight minutes later. He met Robin van Persie's vicious inswinging free-kick and his header ricocheted in off the back of Kompany in front of an elated Stretford End.
Mancini made his first change with 20 minutes left, introducing fit-again Aguero for Samir Nasri - and the Argentine demonstrated his brilliance to put City back in front.
He produced a burst of pace, something City had lacked, inside the area before flashing an angled drive high past De Gea.
It set up an angry rather than grandstand finish, with players from both sides involved in exchanges after Aguero and Ferdinand squared up when United did not put the ball out of play with David Silva down injured.
Young then limped off injured after a heavy Pablo Zabaleta challenge before referee Dean brought a frenetic evening to a close.
- 01 De Gea
- 02 Rafael Booked
- 03 Evra
- 04 Jones
- 05 Ferdinand
- 11 Giggs
- 16 Carrick
- 18 Young (Kagawa - 90' )
- 10 Rooney Booked (Hernandez - 85' )
- 19 Welbeck (Valencia - 80' Booked )
- 20 Van Persie
- 13 Lindegaard
- 28 Buttner
- 07 Valencia
- 17 Nani
- 23 Cleverley
- 26 Kagawa
- 14 Hernandez
- 01 Hart
- 04 Kompany Booked
- 05 Zabaleta Booked
- 22 Clichy
- 33 Nastasic
- 07 Milner
- 08 Nasri (Aguero - 71' )
- 18 Barry Booked
- 21 Silva Booked (Lescott - 89' )
- 42 Y Toure
- 32 Tevez Booked (Garcia - 90' )
- 30 Pantilimon
- 06 Lescott
- 13 Kolarov
- 28 K Toure
- 14 Garcia
- 10 Dzeko
- 16 Aguero
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee blows for the end of the match.90:00 +4:42
Corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie from the right by-line, Rio Ferdinand takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart.90:00 +3:57
Free kick taken by Yaya Toure.90:00 +3:57 Booking
Booking Antonio Valencia is shown a yellow card.90:00 +3:48
Antonio Valencia gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gareth Barry.90:00 +2:35
Indirect free kick taken by Vincent Kompany.90:00 +2:35 Substitution
Substitution Francisco Javi Garcia joins the action as a substitute, replacing Carlos Tevez.90:00 +2:35 Booking
Booking The referee shows Rafael Da Silva a yellow card.90:00 +2:30
Foul by Rafael Da Silva on Sergio Aguero, free kick awarded.90:00 +2:00
Corner from right by-line taken by Robin van Persie.90:00 +1:12
Direct free kick taken by Ryan Giggs.90:00 +1:12 Substitution
Substitution Shinji Kagawa replaces Ashley Young.90:00 +1:12 Booking
Booking Pablo Zabaleta is shown a yellow card.90:00 +0:34
Ashley Young fouled by Pablo Zabaleta, the ref awards a free kick.89:45 Booking
Booking Caution for Gareth Barry.88:18 Substitution
Substitution David Silva goes off and Joleon Lescott comes on.86:37
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie from the right by-line, Phil Jones has a headed effort at goal from close range which goes wide left of the target.86:12
Unfair challenge on Javier Hernandez by Vincent Kompany results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Ashley Young, Pablo Zabaleta makes a clearance.84:23
Indirect free kick taken by Ryan Giggs.84:23 Substitution
Substitution (Man Utd) makes a substitution, with Javier Hernandez coming on for Wayne Rooney.
Booking The referee shows Carlos Tevez a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.84:18
Free kick awarded for a foul by Carlos Tevez on Phil Jones.84:08
Robin van Persie takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a comfortable save.82:41
Foul by Robin van Persie on Pablo Zabaleta, free kick awarded. Joe Hart takes the indirect free kick.81:52
Robin van Persie has an effort at goal from close range which goes wide left of the goal.81:16
Yaya Toure challenges Michael Carrick unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Ryan Giggs.80:28
Wayne Rooney challenges James Milner unfairly and gives away a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Joe Hart.80:03
The offside flag is raised against Sergio Aguero. Indirect free kick taken by David De Gea.79:16 Substitution
Substitution Antonio Valencia joins the action as a substitute, replacing Danny Welbeck.77:57
The assist for the goal came from Yaya Toure.77:57 Goal scored
Goal! - Sergio Aguero - Man Utd 1 - 2 Man City Goal scored by Sergio Aguero from close in to the top right corner of the goal. Man Utd 1-2 Man City.76:59
Yaya Toure takes a shot. Michael Carrick gets a block in.76:42
Yaya Toure takes a shot. Blocked by Rio Ferdinand.76:05
Ashley Young takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save.75:22
Centre by Rafael Da Silva, Matija Nastasic makes a clearance.73:52
A cross is delivered by Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero makes a clearance.73:20
Corner from the right by-line taken by Robin van Persie, save by Joe Hart.72:20
Free kick awarded for a foul by Gareth Barry on Robin van Persie. Ryan Giggs takes the free kick.70:10 Substitution
Substitution Sergio Aguero replaces Samir Nasri.70:10
Samir Nasri produces a left-footed shot from inside the area that clears the bar.69:21
Danny Welbeck takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.68:35
The ball is swung over by Wayne Rooney, comfortable save by Joe Hart.67:41
David Silva takes a short corner.66:34
The assistant referee signals for offside against Wayne Rooney. Vincent Kompany takes the free kick.65:47
Gareth Barry challenges David De Gea unfairly and gives away a free kick. David De Gea takes the indirect free kick.65:05
Corner from the right by-line taken by David Silva, David De Gea makes a comfortable save.63:33
Carlos Tevez takes a shot. David Silva is flagged offside by the assistant referee. David De Gea takes the indirect free kick.61:09
The referee blows for offside against Robin van Persie. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.60:28
David De Gea fouled by Pablo Zabaleta, the ref awards a free kick. David De Gea takes the indirect free kick.58:01
The assist for the goal came from Phil Jones.58:01 Goal scored
Goal! - Vincent Kompany - Man Utd 1 - 1 Man City Vincent Kompany puts the ball into his own goal. Man Utd 1-1 Man City.58:00
Phil Jones takes a shot.57:14
Yaya Toure concedes a free kick for a foul on Rafael Da Silva. Free kick crossed left-footed by Robin van Persie from right wing.53:32
Wayne Rooney sends in a cross, save by Joe Hart.53:03
Wayne Rooney takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post.52:26
Unfair challenge on Rafael Da Silva by Pablo Zabaleta results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Ryan Giggs.50:56
Samir Nasri provided the assist for the goal.50:56 Goal scored
Goal! - James Milner - Man Utd 0 - 1 Man City A goal is scored by James Milner from just outside the box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Man Utd 0-1 Man City.49:35
James Milner gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Patrice Evra. Indirect free kick taken by Patrice Evra.49:05
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Vincent Kompany by Phil Jones. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.48:30
Corner taken by Ryan Giggs from the right by-line played to the near post, save by Joe Hart.46:06
Phil Jones fouled by Carlos Tevez, the ref awards a free kick. David De Gea takes the indirect free kick.45:01
The referee starts the second half.45:00 +1:12 Half time
Half Time The referee calls an end to the first half.44:39
Rafael Da Silva takes a shot.43:54
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Patrice Evra by James Milner. Ryan Giggs takes the direct free kick.42:35
Robin van Persie takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the crossbar.42:00
The free kick is swung in right-footed by Wayne Rooney, clearance by Matija Nastasic.42:00 Booking
Booking Booking for Vincent Kompany for unsporting behaviour.41:52
Foul by Vincent Kompany on Ashley Young, free kick awarded.39:37
Ryan Giggs concedes a free kick for a foul on Vincent Kompany. Vincent Kompany takes the free kick.38:36
Ryan Giggs gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gareth Barry. Yaya Toure takes the free kick.37:00
Wayne Rooney takes a inswinging corner.34:04
Foul by Michael Carrick on Carlos Tevez, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed by James Milner, clearance made by Danny Welbeck.33:55
Michael Carrick challenges David Silva unfairly and gives away a free kick. Gareth Barry takes the free kick.33:39
Ryan Giggs takes a shot. Blocked by Matija Nastasic.33:12
The offside flag is raised against Wayne Rooney. Joe Hart takes the free kick.31:31
Free kick taken by Vincent Kompany.31:31 Booking
Booking Caution for Wayne Rooney.31:27
Wayne Rooney challenges James Milner unfairly and gives away a free kick.31:12
Shot by Ashley Young from just outside the area goes over the net.30:39
Ashley Young takes a shot. Blocked by Pablo Zabaleta.30:17
Corner taken right-footed by Wayne Rooney to the near post, clearance made by Vincent Kompany.29:33
Matija Nastasic challenges Robin van Persie unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Robin van Persie from right wing, Pablo Zabaleta makes a clearance.29:03
Free kick awarded for a foul by Yaya Toure on Rafael Da Silva. Indirect free kick taken by Rafael Da Silva.28:21
David De Gea restarts play with the free kick.28:21 Booking
Booking Caution for David Silva.28:13
Handball decision goes against David Silva.28:05
The ball is crossed by Pablo Zabaleta.26:27
James Milner takes a shot. David De Gea makes a comfortable save.25:07
Samir Nasri has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the target.22:50
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Wayne Rooney by Gareth Barry. Direct free kick taken by Wayne Rooney.22:09
Header from deep inside the area by Ryan Giggs goes over the bar.21:40
Robin van Persie takes a shot. Blocked by Pablo Zabaleta.20:08
Centre by James Milner.16:34
James Milner takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Robin van Persie.12:50
Unfair challenge on Robin van Persie by James Milner results in a free kick. Robin van Persie takes the free kick.12:38
The ball is swung over by Gael Clichy, clearance by Rio Ferdinand.11:20
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on James Milner by Patrice Evra. Free kick crossed left-footed by David Silva, save made by David De Gea.10:49
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on James Milner by Ryan Giggs. Yaya Toure takes the direct free kick.9:15
Ryan Giggs takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Matija Nastasic.8:42
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Phil Jones by Carlos Tevez. Free kick taken by Phil Jones.8:07
Robin van Persie has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the target.4:55
Shot from just outside the area by Gael Clichy misses to the left of the target.2:43
David Silva takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, Rio Ferdinand manages to make a clearance.2:22
Danny Welbeck takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save.1:45
A cross is delivered by Danny Welbeck, save by Joe Hart.0:56
Unfair challenge on Carlos Tevez by Ryan Giggs results in a free kick. Yaya Toure restarts play with the free kick.0:00
The referee gets the game underway.
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