Updated: Saturday, 16th November 2019 @ 10:52pm

Flashback: How Man City claimed bragging rights on Maine Road's final derby day

Flashback: How Man City claimed bragging rights on Maine Road's final derby day

| By James Gray

When Manchester City and derby rivals United meet at the Etihad on Sunday, it will be the team in blue who walk out as favourites, as Champions League footballers, as champions.

However, wind the clock back just 12 years and wander over to Moss Side, and things were very different indeed…

November 9 2002

There can hardly have been many more emotional Manchester derbies than the 127th occasion of their meeting.

It had already been announced that City, after 80 years at their beloved Maine Road stadium, would be moving to the City of Manchester Stadium, built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

The last ever Maine Road Manchester derby fell in early November, and while it was a game that both sides needed to win, there can scarcely have ever been more incentive to secure three points.

Newly promoted City had romped to the First Division title the previous season but had endured a mixed start to their Premier League return; they came into the derby on the back of two straight wins.

Their historical record against United made unpleasant reading for Blues fans. City hadn’t beaten United in 13 years and 16 attempts dating back to before the birth of the Premier League.

A victory was long overdue.

The previous season United had reached a Champions League semi-final and finished third in the Premier League, behind an awesome Arsenal side, and a newly-rich Chelsea.

In addition they had begun the 2002/03 campaign well despite an Old Trafford defeat to Bolton.

Nevertheless they sat third in the table, eying up top spot eagerly, and had laid down four wins from five in the Champions League. There was no doubting who the favourites were.

The release of Roy Keane’s controversial autobiography, in which he claimed he had deliberately injured Manchester City’s Alf-Inge Haaland the previous year, had added extra spice to the occasion.

The revelation understandably angered City fans, providing the game with extra edge, as if it needed it.

Perhaps predictably given the occasion, the game started at breakneck speed as adrenalin flooded a sell-out ground.

Phil Neville’s poor pass put Rio Ferdinand in trouble, allowing Nicolas Anelka to feed Shaun Goater, whose shot was spilt by Fabien Barthez into the path of Anelka again, who duly finished.

However, the home side led for just two and a half minutes, when a brilliant cross from Ryan Giggs found Ole Gunnar Solskjaer six yards out.

However, another Neville defensive error, this time from Gary, gave City the lead again with just 25 minutes on the clock

Neville failed to see out Marc-Vivien Foe’s long ball, which allowed Goater another chance, and his finish from a tight angle sent Maine Road into rapture once again.

While City’s first two goals were the result of United’s incompetence, the third – Goater’s 100th for the club – was pure blue magic.

Five minutes after half time, Foe broke up United possession in midfield, too strong for Juan Sebastien Veron.

He laid it off to Niklas Jensen, who pinged a cross-field ball to Eyal Berkovic.

Berkovic fed the Goat.

He scored.

It wasn’t just a finish, it was a sumptuous, delicate chip past a stranded Barthez.

It meant so much more than simply than three points against a Champions League side, or leaping up to 11th in the table.

City still finished ninth, while United won the title by five points, but for most Citizens, that didn’t matter so much.

They held the bragging rights. For a few months at least, and more importantly, United left Maine Road for the last time embarrassed and beaten.

Their last image one of a Kippax Stand filled with unbridled jubilation and joy.

 

Manchester City 3 – 1 Manchester United

Anelka 5’, Goater 26’, 50’; Solskjaer 8’

Video courtesy of Bluenose1 via YouTube, with thanks

Image courtesy of Bermuda Sports Netword via YouTube, with thanks