Man City 0-1 Man Utd
A Paul Scholes header in the third minute of stoppage time handed Manchester United a precious 1-0 victory over fierce rivals Manchester City at Eastlands.
The veteran midfielder marked the signing of his one-year contract extension with the 149th goal of his glittering United career to keep the title race well and truly alive.
The win reduces the gap at the top to just a single point, although Chelsea could increase that back to four with victory over Tottenham later on Saturday.
In a game starved of clear-cut chances which United had the better of, Scholes arrived on cue with the last play of the game to meet Patrice Evra's cross and nestle a firm header into the bottom corner.
City had chances themselves to snatch the spoils in the second half with both Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bridge coming close in the latter stages.
After his appearance against Bayern Munich 10 days ago, it was hardly a surprise that Wayne Rooney should declare himself fit after just a single day's training.
But the prospective PFA player-of-the-year looked ill at ease, repeated rants at referee Martin Atkinson and a petulant kick at Nigel de Jong belied his mood.
Rooney appeared tentative, he declined to set up Ryan Giggs when he had the chance to do so, and there was no real conviction behind his only decent opportunity of the opening period, when Antonio Valencia forced the ball into the area.
Having beaten Kolo Toure with a deft piece of skill, the goal opened up for striker, who had scored 34 times before his unfortunate ankle injury.
He dragged the effort wide though, which only increased his frustration, his contribution eventually brought to an end 15 minutes from time when he was replaced by Dimitar Berbatov.
Rooney's attack on De Jong might have been revenge for a thunderous challenge from the Dutchman on Evra, which set the tone for an opening period high on energy but low on goalmouth incident.
A bulldog of a midfielder, De Jong gave United little time to settle on the ball, and though the visitors had plenty of possession, much of their passing was of a sideways variety.
Only Antonio Valencia looked as though he could cause the Blues significant problems.
Having escaped a penalty-box handball that went unseen by Atkinson and, apparently, the entire United team, returning full-back Bridge was undone by the Ecuador man just before the break.
Valencia squeezed a cross through to the near post where Giggs was alert enough to make contact, but lacked the power to beat Shay Given with a low flick.
For their part, City seemed to have more movement but invariably ran into a defensive brick wall.
Against his old club, Carlos Tevez curled an early free-kick towards the top corner only for Edwin van der Sar to make an excellent save.
It turned out to be the sum total of first-half efforts on goal from Roberto Mancini's men, a fizzing low cross from Bellamy not much to enthuse about considering his team had scored 11 times in their last two outings.
The was no discernable improvement - either in the overall quality or Rooney's temper - in the opening minutes of the second-half.
It did Rooney no credit at all that when he was kicked by Vincent Kompany, he rolled around in apparent agony then jumped to his feet and ran off without a problem once the yellow card had been brandished.
The problem for United was that with their bulwark at less than full throttle and Valencia their only source of pace, they were reliant on guile alone to open City up.
City had more speed and a flowing move, started by Emmanuel Adebayor and inevitably involving Tevez, ended when Craig Bellamy crashed a shot into the side-netting.
Shortly afterwards, the Blues had a penalty appeal turned down.
Gareth Barry could be accused of making too much of minimal contact by Gary Neville. There was certainly contact though, and not with the ball on Neville's part.
The crowd were still digesting that incident when Giggs got on the end of a long ball beyond the City defence and would have been clean through if he had not been confronted immediately by Given, whose goal was threatened by Berbatov with a deft header shortly afterwards.
It then took the interventions of Nemanja Vidic and Darren Fletcher to ensure a goalmouth scramble caused by Van der Sar's ill-advised charge to meet a cross did not ended in disaster for the visitors.
This flurry of activity gave the impression of a game finally heading somewhere. It took Scholes to find the map.
Latest Forum Comments
What a cracking day saturday turned out to be!! I thought we played well against City but still not quite right although winnin git like we did will really give us the lift we need. HE SCORES GOALS GALORE.... Spurs were awesome against Chelsea who bottled it big time, created nothing and looked like the could concede 4 or 5. IF we can get 3 points against spurs at OT then the pressure is on Chelsea BIG TIME and the one of the last teams they will want to play is Stoke, be it at SB or not. They will fight for everything and will hopefully be launching long ball after long ball at their defence minus Terry and a dodgy looking Cech! WE SHALL NOT, WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED~!!- birchy
Anyone else pleasantly surprised by Berbatov when he came on? I was shocked at the way he picked up the ball, turned and then ran at the City defence a couple of times. Usually he'll pick it up then just look to pop a pass out to a wide man. He looked more direct yesterday when he got on the ball. His problem is that he plays at a different tempo to the team and tends to slow things down. If he just upped that temp then I think he would be so much more effective. The most frustrating thing is that we all know he has the talent and ability to be a United player, but maybe time has run out for him?- Menace
If you could bottle that feeling when Scholes scored, it would be the most expensive addictive drug in the world. I went and stood right in the front row behind the goal in the 2nd half, I have bruises and cuts all over my shins where I ended up over the barrier when Scholes scored. Then we stopped off on the way back to watch Spurs beat Chelsea. What a mint day. Moments like that are what make all the money/travelling/getting up at 4am etc all worth while. And in stoppage time again?! Brilliant.- Matt
What a day yesterday. I'll be smiling all of next week. Our never say-die-attitude over the years has been incredible.- Geoff
Very pleasantly surprised the way this weekend has turned out! However, as Jonny and Neil say - we play these guys next week... So let's hope they don't continue their dream run with us!- Abner
What a wonderful day. Couldn't really have been better. Unless we didn't have to play Spurs next Saturday - that's going to be a very, very tough game. Oh, and given Terry's current form it's a pity he'll be suspended next week. England better hope Rio is on tip-top form come the World Cup, Terry looks dreadful.- Neil
Great to be only a point behind with 3 games to go hopefully we can win our next 3 and Liverpool do us a favour when Chelsea go to anfield. But im still gonna moan because Tottenham should have won that game by 4 or 5 with the amount of chances they created and missed. But id definitey have taken a 2-1 at the start of the day.- Munsterman
i never thought at the end of the day we'd be within a point of Chelsea. brilliant day.- Shaun
if it stays like this we will be one point behind and only 2 goals down on Chelsea. then if we win against Spurs next Saturday our goals would probably be equal and be 2 points clear, with Chelsea playing the next day. Big pressure. All big ifs though of course.- Shaun
Until we have secured 3 points against Spurs at OT I shall not be getting too excited about this one.- jonny
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