Wayne Rooney produced a moment of match-winning magic as his stunning overhead-kick gave Manchester United a crucial 2-1 victory over Manchester City in Saturday’s derby at Old Trafford.
United had seen Nani’s first-half opener canceled out after the break when David Silva deflected in an Edin Dzeko shot, but Rooney’s spectacular late strike ensured Sir Alex Ferguson’s side hold the bragging rights over their bitter rivals.
Rooney’s sixth goal of the season kept league leaders United four points clear of second-placed Arsenal, who beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0, and eight ahead of third-placed City.
Ferguson saluted Rooney’s winner as the best he had ever seen at Old Trafford.
“It was stunning,” he said. “We’ve had some fantastic goals here — Rooney hit a volley against Newcastle some years ago — but in terms of execution you’ll never see that.”
Nani opened the scoring for United in sublime fashion in the 41st minute.
The move began when Rooney flicked on Edwin van der Sar’s huge punt to Ryan Giggs. The Welsh midfielder played a superb pass through to Nani, who produced a fine first touch, before surging clear of Pablo Zabaleta to shoot low beyond Joe Hart.
City leveled in the 65th minute thanks to a moment of extreme good fortune.
Shaun Wright-Phillips crossed to Dzeko, but the Bosnian substitute’s shot was going wide until it hit Silva and looped past the wrong-footed van der Sar. However, Rooney stole the show with one of the goals of the season in the 78th minute. Nani’s deflected cross looped toward the England forward and his acrobatic aerial volley flashed past Hart.
At the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal kept the pressure on United with a comfortable win against Wolves.
Van Persie put Arsene Wenger’s team ahead in the 16th minute with an emphatic volley from a Cesc Fabregas cross.
Wolves had ended United’s 29-match unbeaten run last week, but they are back at the bottom of the table after Dutch forward van Persie delivered the knockout blow with a 56th-minute header.
Wenger, whose side blew a four-goal lead in a 4-4 draw at Newcastle United last week, said: “The chances we created and the speed of our play was fantastic.”
“We wanted to come back and win after last week — we know what we want to achieve, we are in the title race and in a good position,” he said.
Tottenham Hotpsur climbed above Chelsea into fourth place as Niko Kranjcar’s goal clinched a 2-1 victory at Sunderland.
With Spurs defender William Gallas changing his boots on the side of the pitch, Asamoah Gyan took advantage of the extra space to score in the 11th minute, but Tottenham equalized just before halftime through Michael Dawson’s header and Croatia midfielder Kranjcar bagged the winner for the second successive week in the 57th minute.
Liverpool’s recent revival stalled as struggling Wigan Athletic earned a 1-1 draw at Anfield.
Kenny Dalglish’s side, without injured captain Steven Gerrard, struck first when Raul Meireles bagged his fourth goal in five games in the 24th minute, but Wigan shocked the Reds when Steve Gohouri prodded in the equalizer in the 65th minute.
West Ham United staged a remarkable fightback to draw 3-3 at relegation rivals West Bromwich Albion. Avram Grant’s side trailed 3-0 in the first half.
With former Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson watching from the stands following his appointment as Albion chief on Friday, Graeme Dorrans opened the scoring in the third minute and Jerome Thomas netted the second five minutes later, before Winston Reid’s 32nd-minute own-goal put Albion further ahead.