MM's top five: Crucial Manchester derby matches
MM's top five: Crucial Manchester derby matches
It’s certainly been an eventful last eight months of Premier League football, but tomorrow Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City can sew up England’s top prize with six games still to play if they beat rivals Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium.
It wouldn’t beat his record of winning the Bundesliga with seven games to still play in his first season in charge of Bayern Munich in 2013/14, but it would set a new Premier League record – eclipsing United’s record of winning the league with five games to spare in 2000/01.
Should City claim their third Premier League title, it would be the seventh league title of Guardiola’s managerial career, putting him one behind Jose Mourinho’s eight.
There’s a lot riding on the game, and in the past there has been a lot to play for in Manchester Derbies as is the case tomorrow.
Here, MM takes a look at five Manchester Derbies which have been important games in deciding the destiny of silverware or fate for the Manchester clubs.
5. Manchester United 0-1 Manchester City (First Division, April 1974 – Old Trafford, Manchester)
Dennis Law is a United legend, and to commemorate his efforts for the club he has a statue outside Old Trafford with as part of Sir Matt Busby’s United trinity alongside Sir Bobby Charlton and George Best.
Law played for United for eleven years between 1962 and 1973, chalking up 237 goals in 404 games for the Red Devils, including one in the European Cup final of 1968 against SL Benfica.
Six years later, though, he scored perhaps the most iconic and ironic goal of his career – netting the winner for City in the penultimate game of the season at Old Trafford.
He’d only left United a year earlier, but a year on he came back to haunt his former club and score a decisive goal which would relegate United, under the tenure of Tommy Docherty at the time, to the second division.
It was the clubs first relegation since 1937, and although they came straight back up a year later, the memory of Law scoring the goal to relegate his former club will be edged into United’s history forever.
4. Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City (Premier League, February 2011 – Old Trafford, Manchester)
Going into this game, United were four points clear of Chelsea in second and five points ahead of City in third.
Roberto Mancini was investing City’s billions into star players, and the gap was really beginning to close in Manchester.
This was really felt in February 2011, the game was a tight and edgy affair in the first 40 minutes until Nani opened the scoring for the home side in a first half United shaded.
City asserted themselves in the second half, though, and when David Silva equalised 25 minutes from time, the visitors were the ones in the ascendency and they looked the team more likely to grab a winner.
This was until Wayne Rooney produced one of the most memorable moments of the Premier League era, meeting Nani’s cross with an acrobatic effort which flew into Joe Hart’s left-hand corner.
“It defies description. How about sensational? How about superb?” Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler was in disbelief when Rooney netted the goal which would put United ahead for the second time in the game.
City smelt blood at one point, and it could have seen the Citizens drag their way into the title race, but Rooney had other ideas. United’s all-time top scorer earned his side a crucial three points on their way to claiming the 2010/11 Premier League title.
3. Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United (FA Cup Semi-final, April 2011 – Wembley Stadium, London)
Two months on from a tense affair at Old Trafford, both Manchester teams travelled to the capital to face off in the FA Cup semi-final.
Rooney, match winner from the last game, was suspended and City took full advantage of the absence of United’s talisman.
Mancini’s men inflicted revenge upon United on their way to winning their first trophy in 35 years – forcing United to rip down the infamous banner in the Old Trafford Stretford End which read ‘35 years.’
Similar to the last meeting in February, there was little to choose between the sides until Yaya Toure’s barraging run from midfield seen him skip past Nemanja Vidic and slot under an onrushing Edwin Van Der Sar.
In a game both teams were desperate to win, City edged it and more magic from Toure in the final seen City win the FA Cup. This was the moment where the heat of the Manchester rivalry was turned up a notch, a statement of intent from City to say that they wanted to catch United.
2. Manchester City 0-1 Manchester United (Premier League, May 2011 – Etihad Stadium, Manchester)
United were closing in on their first title in four years, and they made the short trip across Manchester knowing a win would put them in touching distance of the Premier League title.
City had nothing to play for, but they were fired up to stop their rivals from taking a giant step to winning the league in the third to last game of the season.
United started the game well, and City were going at great lengths to stop them with tackles flying in left, right and centre.
But it was one bad tackle too far for City, as Michael Ball hacked down Cristiano Ronaldo in the penalty area.
The 2006/07 PFA Player of the Year stepped up and converted. Ronaldo was the match winner once again as he so often was for United, and on this day he proved too much for City as he did all the other teams in the league.
United celebrated a crucial victory, and a day later when Chelsea failed to beat Arsenal, the destination of the 2007 Premier League title was decided – it was coming back to Manchester after three years in London.
1. Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United (Premier League, April 2012 – Etihad Stadium, Manchester)
Just as was the case in 2007, this game at the Etihad Stadium was the third to last game of the season.
This time, though, the Premier League title was on the line for both teams.
United went into the game three points clear of City, and Sir Alex Ferguson knew that a win would see United repeat the feat of five years earlier where three points would see United all-but win the league.
For City, a win would put them top of the table and in command of proceedings – the Citizens superior goal difference meant that if they won their final three games including this one they would win their first Premier League title at the expense of their rivals, wrestling the crown from United’s grasp.
Both sides looked nervous in the first half, but right on the stroke of half-time a corner swung in by Silva was met aggressively by City captain Vincent Kompany, who powered a bullet header past David de Gea in the United goal.
City dominated the second half, but couldn’t find a second goal. Crucially, though, they kept United at bay and in doing so put themselves in pole position to win the league.