Man City 1 Man Utd 0
CAPTAIN MARVEL ... Vincent Kompany runs away in delight after scoring for City
Published: 2 minutes ago
VINCENT KOMPANY’S bullet first-half header moved Manchester City to within touching distance of a first Premier League crown.
The City skipper got away from Chris Smalling and on the end of David Silva’s corner to head home what could prove to be a title winning goal.
United were second best for much of the game and never seriously threatened Joe Hart's goal.
And it was Roberto Mancini's side who should have made it two with a host of chances late on.
But Kompany's goal proved enough and City go back to the top of the league on goal difference with just two games to go.
The result caps an astonishing turnaround in fortunes with Mancini having conceded the title to United after his team's defeat to Arsenal three weeks a go.
But City have been on fire since that Emirates defeat and with United losing at Wigan and drawing at home to Everton, the blue half of Manchester could be in dreamland come May 13.
Alex Ferguson gambled with his team selection for the mother of all derbies with Ji-Sung Park and Smalling making their first Premier League starts since January.
But his United side settled the quicker with Michael Carrick having an early goal-bound strike blocked by Kompany at close range.
Any fears that the champions had come to park the bus looked misguided and it was a frenetic start, albeit with a lack of clear-cut chances.
David Silva had a shot deflected wide as City began to get into their stride, while Nani got his head to a Wayne Rooney cross but his effort lacked both power and direction.
The same player then fired well over from 35 yards before Carlos Tevez got into a dangerous position at the other end but his cut-back was cleared by Phil Jones.
Kompany received an early booking after clattering into Rooney but it was City who were now dominant.
Sergio Aguero struck well wide after swivelling on Samir Nasri’s left-wing cross before Pablo Zabaleta got in the way of the Frenchman and ended up poking a tame strike at David De Gea.
Carlos Tevez then stormed through the United midfield to play in Yaya Toure and the Ivorian found Aguero but Smalling turned the Argentine’s cross wide.
It was all City as they camped on the edge of the United box in the final minutes of the opening half.
The Red Devils would have been desperate for the half-time whistle but from the second of successive late corners, Kompany completely left Smalling in the box to find room to power home Silva’s inswinging cross.
It was a hammer blow for United, but the least that City deserved and Kompany ran away in delight with the Etihad Stadium bouncing.
Joe Hart had to be alert to tip away an early Ryan Giggs corner after the break and it was turning into a set-piece parade at both ends with another Silva centre causing havoc in the United box.
The impressive Zabaleta forced another corner, again not dealt with by the Reds’ back four and this time Nasri curled a shot wide.
City still looked comfortable and Ferguson showed his hand early, bringing on Danny Welbeck for Park before the hour.
De Gea was tested again as the hosts worked a free-kick on the left and Toure ran past Rooney before thumping a low cross-shot which the United keeper kicked away.
Mancini then made his first change, deciding to bring on the midfield cover of Nigel De Jong for former United star Tevez who had played his part with an energetic display.
De Jong was immediately involved with a nasty challenge on Welbeck.
And while the Dutchman was booked, tempers flared on the touchline with a fuming Ferguson confronting Mancini.
Yaya Toure continued to run things in the middle of the park and he advanced to the edge of the box unchecked before shooting wide.
City came close again when Gael Clichy fired in a low strike which De Gea managed to parry away.
And Nasri should have put the game to bed when he cut inside, but elected took too long on the ball before getting his strike away.