Vincent Kompany headed home powerfully at the stroke of half-time to give Manchester City a precious 1-0 lead over Manchester United – an advantage they hung on to when the full-time whistle was blown at the Etihad Stadium.
The highly anticipated title showdown between defending champions United and noisy neighbors City began with the Red Devils enjoying a three-point lead at the summit but ended with the Citizens leapfrogging them on goal difference.
From Carlos Tevez’s reunion with former club United to Nigel De Jong’s signature tough tackling ways to a heated exchange of words between Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini on the touchline, this derby had all sorts of drama to live up to its hype.
In the end, the score may not have been as emphatic as the 6-1 tennis beating that City dished out to Ferguson’s men at Old Trafford early in the season but the outcome was the exact same: a win for the Blue half of Manchester.
In fact, this win could prove to be sweeter than any other win as long as City go on to win their two remaining matches against Newcastle and QPR.
That feat would guide Mancini’s side to a famous Premier League title – the club’s first league triumph since 1968 and one that looked extremely unlikely when City were beaten at Arsenal a few weeks ago.
Fergie will be left to reflect what went wrong after his side followed up a costly defeat at Wigan and a clumsy draw at home to Everton with a mediocre attacking performance at the Eastlands at such a critical time in the season.
United are famous for taking care of business like no other during the tail-end of the year but this is the second straight year that City threaten to beat them to a major piece of silverware.
Yaya Toure scored the only goal in City’s 1-0 win over United in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley last year and the Citizens went on to lift that trophy when all was said and done in the final against Stoke City.
This time around, Kompany’s header could very well go down as the goal that allowed City to win the Barclays Premier League at the expense of United.