MANCHESTER, England, (Reuters) – Manchester City closed in on their first top flight title in 44 years by beating Manchester United 1-0 yesterday after doing what their rivals have done for years – keeping their nerve when all seemed lost.
City captain Vincent Kompany scored the winner with a header from a corner at the end of the first half to cap a remarkable turnaround in the title race as they moved top of the table on goal difference with two games to play.
The win for Roberto Mancini’s team, who were never really threatened by a United side that came looking for a point and left empty handed, capped a remarkable month for a City side displaying all the hallmarks of their illustrious neighbours.
Premier League defeats by Swansea and Arsenal and a draw at Stoke looked like derailing big-spending City’s title drive, with United winning eight successive games almost at will, but Mancini’s determined players refused to give up.
United’s never-say-die attitude was at the heart of their 12 titles under Alex Ferguson in the Premier League era, but the champions could find no way back in this match.
Kompany’s strike was the only goal of a fraught, passionate and at times ragged and wild derby that distilled all the unpredictability of a remarkable season into 90 minutes of a match that swung first the way of United and then City who finished the stronger and were deserved winners.
Both teams have 83 points but City have moved back to the top of the table on goal difference and, although they have the harder games left, Mancini’s side now hold all the cards.
Asked who were now favourites for the title, Mancini once again told reporters: “United. They have the easier games, against Swansea and Sunderland, while we have to play Newcastle United, who are going for the Champions League, and Queens Park Rangers who are going against relegation.
“We are at the top now, but it can change after the next two games,” he added.
However, City’s dashing Italian coach did concede that winning the title was actually a possibility for his side too, “yes, it is, that’s true,” he smiled broadly.