Rooney's overhead volley secured victory for Manchester United
By Phil McNulty,
Chief football writer, at Old Trafford
Wayne Rooney's spectacular late winner put Manchester United's Premier League title assault back on course and left Manchester City devastated at Old Trafford.
David Silva's deflected equaliser put Roberto Mancini's side in sight of a point after Nani's first-half goal gave United a slender advantage in a tight and tense encounter.
It was Rooney, however, who produced a moment of inspiration to score a stunning overhead kick that will live forever in the memory of United's fans and extended City's dismal sequence of only one league win in their last 27 visits to Old Trafford.
Silva's fortunate leveller, unwittingly deflecting in substitute Edin Dzeko's shot via his back, had given City momentum but they were stopped in their tracks in the most dramatic fashion with only 12 minutes left.
Rooney delighted by 'best-ever goal'
Nani's cross from the right flank was high and behind Rooney as he lurked near the penalty spot, but he elevated an indifferent personal display to the heights by readjusting his position and sending an acrobatic, unstoppable overhead kick high past startled City keeper Joe Hart.
The quality of the goal was worthy of winning any game and United boss Sir Alex Ferguson may even look back on it as a strike that won the title after they bounced back from their first Premier League defeat of the season at Wolves last Saturday.
Rooney, superbly shackled by City defender Vincent Kompany for so long as Ferguson surprisingly left Dimitar Berbatov on the bench, had previously cut a forlorn and frustrated figure but his natural instincts continue to serve him and United so well.
And if his love affair with Old Trafford was strained by the saga of his demand to leave earlier this season, the bond was rekindled as United claimed a vital victory.
It enabled them to extend their lead at the top of the table to seven points at the final whistle - and also inflicted a serious blow to City's own lingering hopes of mounting a challenge as they now stand eight points behind United having played a game more.
City were left to regret failing to make the most of some early supremacy when Silva squandered the perfect opportunity to strike a crucial blow early on in the second minute.
United boss Ferguson entrusted Rooney with a lone attacking role - and in the opening stages it was City who made all the running and should have taken the lead in the opening moments.
Silva, a significant influence as City dominated, exchanged passes with Carlos Tevez inside the area and was left with only Edwin van der Sar to beat. The angle was acute but the gifted Spaniard was wasteful as he rolled a tame finish across the face of goal and inches wide.
Rooney strike was fitting - Phelan
The hulking figure of Yaya Toure also cast a giant shadow over United's midfield as they struggled to assert any authority and he was frustrated when referee Andre Marriner ignored his penalty appeals when his cross struck Chris Smalling.
As United finally started to pose a threat, Darren Fletcher headed straight at City keeper Hart from Ryan Giggs' cross - and the seemingly ageless Old Trafford veteran was instrumental when they took the lead four minutes before the interval.
Rooney challenged for Van der Sar's clearance and Giggs pounced to deliver an inviting pass for Nani, who escape the attentions of Pablo Zabaleta to slide a composed finish past Hart.
City boss Mancini, who watched his team fail to capitalise on so much early possession, made a change early in the second half when he replaced Aleksandar Kolarov with Shaun Wright-Phillips.
And in an attempt to actually call Van der Sar into serious action, something City had failed to do, he then introduced Dzeko for James Milner.
Mancini admits title will be 'difficult'
The impact was exactly what City required as both substitutes were involved when they drew level after 65 minutes. Wright-Phillips' cross fell to Dzeko and his effort took a vital touch of Silva's back to wrong-foot Van der Sar.
Ferguson immediately introduced Berbatov for Anderson, but it was that moment of brilliance from Rooney that put them back in front and visibly deflated City.
City were stunned at being struck by such a blow and their threat fizzled out as Old Trafford buzzed with excitement at what had unfolded. United survived in comfort to close out a crucial victory.
90:00+4:12 The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
90:00+2:52 Foul by Gareth Barry on Ryan Giggs, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Wayne Rooney.
90:00+1:18 Joleon Lescott gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Chris Smalling. Edwin Van der Sar takes the free kick.
90:00+0:50 Unfair challenge on Carlos Tevez by Darren Fletcher results in a free kick. Joe Hart restarts play with the free kick.
87:31 Ryan Giggs gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Carlos Tevez. David Silva crosses the ball in from the free kick,
free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Edwin Van der Sar by Vincent Kompany. Edwin Van der Sar restarts play with the
87:31 Booking Ryan Giggs is shown a yellow card.
86:07 Micah Richards gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Patrice Evra. Nemanja Vidic takes the free kick.
84:58 David Silva takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Nemanja Vidic.
84:47 Shaun Wright-Phillips takes a shot. Nemanja Vidic gets a block in.
82:10 Free kick awarded for a foul by Gnegneri Toure Yaya on Patrice Evra. Luis Nani restarts play with the free kick.
80:23 Edin Dzeko produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that goes over the bar.
80:02 Dimitar Berbatov takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart.
78:58 Gnegneri Toure Yaya has an effort at goal from long distance that goes wide left.
78:41 Substitution Michael Carrick comes on in place of Paul Scholes.
77:19 Assist on the goal came from Luis Nani.
77:19 GOAL - Wayne Rooney:Man Utd 2 - 1 Man City Wayne Rooney finds the net with a goal from inside the area to the top right corner of the goal. Man Utd 2-1 Man City.
74:01 Effort on goal by Luis Nani from just outside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the target.
71:29 Unfair challenge on Pablo Zabaleta by Luis Nani results in a free kick. Gareth Barry takes the direct free kick.
70:44 Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Blocked by Joleon Lescott.
69:09 The official flags Edin Dzeko offside. Edwin Van der Sar takes the free kick.
68:39 Carlos Tevez takes a shot. Save by Edwin Van der Sar.
68:02 The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by Gnegneri Toure Yaya.
67:43 The ball is crossed by Luis Nani, save by Joe Hart.
67:07 Carlos Tevez is ruled offside. Edwin Van der Sar takes the free kick.
66:00 Foul by Paul Scholes on Micah Richards, free kick awarded. David Silva takes the free kick.
64:17 Edin Dzeko provided the assist for the goal.
64:17 GOAL - David Silva:Man Utd 1 - 1 Man City David Silva grabs a goal from inside the area to the top left corner of the goal. Man Utd 1-1 Man City.
64:16 Edin Dzeko takes a shot. David Silva gets a block in.
60:40 Free kick awarded for a foul by Edin Dzeko on Luis Nani. Direct free kick taken by Edwin Van der Sar.
59:58 Foul by Patrice Evra on Shaun Wright-Phillips, free kick awarded. Vincent Kompany takes the free kick.
59:58 Substitution Edin Dzeko is brought on as a substitute for James Milner.
58:10 Free kick awarded for a foul by Carlos Tevez on Paul Scholes. Free kick taken by Paul Scholes.
57:00 Luis Nani has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the target.
55:53 David Silva takes a shot. Save by Edwin Van der Sar.
55:34 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by James Milner, clearance by Nemanja Vidic.
54:57 Corner taken right-footed by James Milner, Micah Richards takes a shot. Clearance by Wayne Rooney.
52:01 Luis Nani concedes a free kick for a foul on Pablo Zabaleta. Free kick taken by Joleon Lescott.
52:01 Substitution Shaun Wright-Phillips comes on in place of Aleksandar Kolarov.
50:54 Ryan Giggs produces a cross, Pablo Zabaleta makes a clearance.
49:46 Darren Fletcher fouled by Gareth Barry, the ref awards a free kick. John O'Shea restarts play with the free kick.
48:19 Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Aleksandar Kolarov from the left by-line to the near post.
47:40 The assistant referee flags for offside against Wayne Rooney. Vincent Kompany restarts play with the free kick.
46:03 Luis Nani is adjudged to have handled the ball. Direct free kick taken by Vincent Kompany.
45:01 The second half begins.
45:00+2:06 The referee calls an end to the first half.
45:00+0:46 Gareth Barry concedes a free kick for a foul on Oliveira Anderson. Oliveira Anderson takes the direct free kick.
44:57 Effort on goal by Ryan Giggs from outside the penalty box goes harmlessly over the bar.
43:24 Unfair challenge on Carlos Tevez by Nemanja Vidic results in a free kick. Gnegneri Toure Yaya takes the direct free kick.
42:31 Aleksandar Kolarov fouled by Luis Nani, the ref awards a free kick. Gareth Barry takes the free kick.
41:49 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Wayne Rooney by James Milner. Direct free kick taken by Paul Scholes.
41:49 Booking Booking for James Milner for unsporting behaviour.
40:12 Ryan Giggs provided the assist for the goal.
40:12 GOAL - Luis Nani:Man Utd 1 - 0 Man City Luis Nani finds the net with a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Man Utd 1-0 Man
38:50 Aleksandar Kolarov challenges Chris Smalling unfairly and gives away a free kick. Edwin Van der Sar takes the direct free
38:39 The ball is swung over by David Silva, Darren Fletcher makes a clearance.
38:05 Short corner taken by James Milner from the right by-line.
37:51 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by James Milner from the right by-line, Nemanja Vidic makes a clearance.
37:34 David Silva takes a shot. Patrice Evra gets a block in.
36:40 Shot by Luis Nani from outside the box goes high over the crossbar.
35:42 Luis Nani takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save.
33:10 Ryan Giggs crosses the ball, Darren Fletcher takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
31:20 Luis Nani fouled by Pablo Zabaleta, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by John O'Shea.
30:48 Aleksandar Kolarov takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.
28:55 The official flags David Silva offside. Edwin Van der Sar restarts play with the free kick.
28:43 Pablo Zabaleta takes a shot. Paul Scholes gets a block in.
27:32 A cross is delivered by Luis Nani, James Milner manages to make a clearance.
27:20 The ball is swung over by Luis Nani, Micah Richards manages to make a clearance.
25:55 A cross is delivered by Luis Nani.
22:30 Gnegneri Toure Yaya fouled by Oliveira Anderson, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Joe Hart.
19:00 Joleon Lescott fouled by John O'Shea, the ref awards a free kick. Joe Hart restarts play with the free kick.
18:07 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Aleksandar Kolarov by Darren Fletcher. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.
18:07 Booking Vincent Kompany booked for unsporting behaviour.
15:17 Aleksandar Kolarov takes a inswinging corner to the near post, clearance made by Luis Nani.
13:48 Free kick awarded for a foul by Luis Nani on Aleksandar Kolarov. James Milner takes the free kick.
Correction - 12:20 John O'Shea concedes a free kick for a foul on Pablo Zabaleta. Aleksandar Kolarov sends in a cross, Gnegneri Toure Yaya produces
a header from close range which goes wide of the left-hand post.
12:20 Unfair challenge on Pablo Zabaleta by John O'Shea results in a free kick. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Aleksandar
Kolarov from left wing.
10:01 Luis Nani produces a left-footed shot from just outside the area that goes harmlessly over the bar.
8:56 John O'Shea concedes a free kick for a foul on Aleksandar Kolarov. Joe Hart takes the free kick.
5:18 Corner taken short by Luis Nani.
4:51 Luis Nani takes the inswinging corner, Pablo Zabaleta makes a clearance.
4:26 Luis Nani decides to take the corner short.
3:24 Shot from close range by David Silva misses to the left of the goal.
2:21 Free kick awarded for a foul by Patrice Evra on Carlos Tevez. Free kick taken by Gnegneri Toure Yaya.
1:42 Foul by Gareth Barry on Luis Nani, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Oliveira Anderson.
0:41 A cross is delivered by Luis Nani, save by Joe Hart.
0:14 Inswinging corner taken by Ryan Giggs.
0:00 The referee starts the match.
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