That Manchester Derby

It was the first meeting of the Manchester clubs in the 2009-10 season and it was one for the ages. Manchester United won the game deep, deep into extra time courtesy of a Michael Owen winner just minutes after Bellamy thought he rescued a point for the ‘noisy neighbours’. This match was also the first time Carlos Tevez played at Old Trafford after ditching the Red for the Blue. A typical Sir Alex match – seesawing through 90 minutes before from somewhere, somehow United produced a winner.

Sir Alex himself said that it was probably the best derby ever. The match was also voted as the best match in the Premier League era at the 20 years awards. This match also probably signified City’s arrival on the big stage after their Arab takeover.

It started brightly for the Reds with Rooney putting the three-time defending-champions ahead after only two minutes. But Ben Foster was nicked by the returning Carlos Tevez and Gareth Barry slotted home into an unguarded post. It was an exciting first half following Barry’s goal after the quarter hour mark but it failed to produce another goal.

In the second period, City were slow out of the gates as United began strongly and they were rewarded for their exciting attacking football with a goal 4 minutes into the restart. Ryan Giggs who was sublime all afternoon put a dangerous ball into the box and Darren Fletcher rose above all and headed home to make it 2-1 United. Again, United were unable to hold onto the precious lead as the match swung one way to another. Just minutes after Fletcher’s goal, City man Craig Bellamy cut inside and unleashed a thunderous shot that nestled in Foster’s top corner. Foster was helpless this time around. But the drama was still not over as 10 minutes from time Giggs put in a wonderful ball into the box from a free-kick and again it was Darren Fletcher who headed home.

With just a minute of normal time left, United again shot itself in the foot. A sloppy pass from Ferdinand let to Martin Petrov slipping it to Craig Bellamy. He ran all of 60 yards and tucked the ball home. 3-3. End of the game? No way.

There were 4 minutes of added time. It was the 4 most exciting minutes in Premier League season. A goal celebration, a substitution and a fan on the field. Taking all this in consideration, referee Martin Atkinson did not blow the whistle after the stipulated 4 minutes. United continued to press for an equalizer all the while. And they did find a way through Michael Owen. Giggs played beautiful ball over the City defense and Owen slotted past Shay Given. Old Trafford erupted and so did Mark Hughes. It was Premier League football at its best.

Fletcher was named Man of the Match for his 2-goal heroics against the neighbours.