Manchester United and Manchester City played out one of the greatest derby games in recent memory, with United prevailing 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium, to delay City’s title party. A win for City would have seen them crowned champions, and it looked like that was a foregone conclusion in the first half, as they stormed into a 2-0 lead. Vincent Kompany reprised his header from this same fixture from six years ago to give City the lead, while a poor David de Gea clearance led to Ilkay Gundogan slotting home the second. Raheem Sterling could have had a hat trick in the first half alone, missing three presentable chances, as United went into the break with their tails between their legs. It was a completely different United which stepped out in the second half though, as they channelled the spirit of Sir Alex’s greatest sides and mounted an improbable comeback. Paul Pogba scored two goals within 98 seconds of each other to haul the Red Devils level, and then Chris Smalling, at fault for the opening goal, volleyed home from Alexis Sanchez’s free kick to put United into an unlikely lead. City did hit the post twice during this half, and had a credible penalty shout turned down, while de Gea also produced one of the saves of the season from Aguero’s header; ultimately, United held on to complete a famous comeback and deny City a title-winning celebration.
The day’s other derby, the Merseyside derby, could not have been a greater contrast, as it ended in a 0-0 draw, with Liverpool having rotated while keeping an eye on Tuesday’s Champions League second leg against City. Elsewhere, Burnley continued their unlikely quest for a European spot with a 2-1 win over Watford. While Roberto Pereyra got the opener for the Hornets just past the hour mark, strikes from Sam Vokes and Jack Cork saw the Clarets temporarily close the gap to Arsenal in sixth place to two points. Crystal Palace were denied a vital win, as Josh King’s late goal kept the scoreline at 2-2 at Selhurst Park. Luka Milivojevic had swept the Eagles into the lead with a freekick, and Wilfried Zaha’s goal to restore the lead after Lys Mousset had equalised looked to have been a crucial winner, before King popped up, to keep Palace only three points ahead of the drop.
Swansea got an undeserved point away to West Brom, where Tammy Abraham scored his first goal in six months to cancel out Jay Rodriguez’s goal, and keep the Swans’ head above water, while the Baggies are now ten points adrift with only five games to go. Stoke City remain mired in trouble as well, going down by a 2-1 scoreline to Tottenham. Christian Eriksen put in a sublime performance, running the game and getting a brace, with his second strike proving the winner after Mame Diouf had equalised. The game also saw Harry Kane return to starting lineup following injury, in his personal quest to overtake Mohamed Salah in the Golden Boot race. Jonjo Shelvey put in a timely reminder of his talent, with a potential England World Cup spot up for grabs, by getting a goal and controlling proceedings for Newcastle in their 2-1 win over Leicester City. Ayoze Perez got the second goal, while Jamie Vardy’s late strike could only prove a consolation, in a result that all but secures Newcastle’s Premier League status for next season. Huddersfield are still nervously looking over their shoulders, however, as a 1-1 draw with Brighton keeps them four points clear of the drop. Jonas Lossl’s unfortunate own goal was cancelled out by Steve Mounie’s opportunistic strike, as the Terriers continue to fight for survival.
Chelsea’s already slim hopes of finishing in the top four look to have been extinguished, with a 1-1 draw at home to West Ham. Cesar Azpilicueta had put the Blues in front in the first half, but Chelsea failed to capitalise on some brilliant attacking play, and were duly punished when Javier Hernandez came off the bench to pilfer a point. Arsenal endured a topsy-turvy game against Southampton, but eventually prevailed with a 3-2 win. Shane Long put the Saints in front with a deft finish, but a brilliant move saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang equalise for the Gunners. Danny Welbeck put them in the lead before half-time, and in a game where Jack Stephens and Mohamed Elneny were sent off, Charlie Austin grabbed what seemed like a point-saving equaliser. Welbeck missed horribly from a superb chance, but atoned for it by getting the winner a few moments later, to leave Southampton deflated and three points from safety.
It was an incredible derby game, which gave United fans an emotional roller-coaster ride. United were pathetic in the first half, and few expected anything other than a sound beating to cap off City’s title celebrations, but the Red Devils belatedly rose to the occasion and managed to eke out a famous win. While this only delays the inevitable, it was vital that the United fans were not subject to the prospect of City winning the title in this game, and it does lay down a marker for next season and what United hope to achieve.