The derby match hasn’t always been a fruitful one for United fans. But what is certain is that over the decades this fixture has thrown up some fascinating and thrilling encounters.
Here are just some of the most memorable matches between Manchester United and their nearest, noisiest neighbours. Some good. Some bad.
Man United 0-1 Man City, April 1974
When Denis Law’s late back heel found the net against the club where he made his name, the Scot, along with everyone in the ground, thought he’d ended Manchester United’s 36-year stay in football’s top flight.
As it happened, it didn’t matter. The Reds would have been relegated anyway after Birmingham beat Norwich in their final game of the campaign. But Law’s refusal to celebrate (in an era where not celebrating against your former club was not the fashionable thing to do) was a picture that spoke a thousand words. He was immediately substituted and was never to play another league game for the club.
Along with Law’s goal, the game will also be remembered for United fans invading the pitch with five minutes to spare in an effort to get the match abandoned. But The Football League upheld the result, condemning the Reds to a season in the Second Division.
Man City 5-1 Man United, September 1989
United were struggling to find their feet under Alex Ferguson’s reign in the early stages of a season that would eventually see them battling relegation when they were on the receiving end of a sound thrashing at Maine Road that would live long in the memory for both sets of supporters.
A mistake from Gary Pallister allowed David Oldfield to score the first, before Trevor Morley capitalised on some even more calamitous defending. The Reds were 3-0 down by the time Mark Hughes’ brilliant scissor kick provided brief hope. But the comeback was short lived.
Oldfield grabbed his second of the game to restore City’s three-goal lead before left-back Andy Hinchcliffe capped a glorious City move with a thundering header at the back post before celebrating in front of the massed United ranks.
Man City 3-3 Man United, October 1990
Keen to avenge their 5-1 hiding just over 12 months previously, Ferguson’s improving side headed to Maine Road to face a City side who were now managed by Howard Kendall.
But David White’s quick-fire five minute brace handed City the ideal start as United fans began to fear the worst yet again, before that man Hughes again provided the reply, heading home to give United hope once more.
However, Kendall’s men seemed home and dry with 12 minutes remaining when Colin Hendry’s galloping run resulted in what many thought was the decisive third goal. But with time running out substitute Ian Brightwell gave the ball away to Brian McClair, who needed no second invitation. And within two minutes McClair grabbed another, flicking home Steve Bruce’s powerful header from a corner to make it 3-3.
Man City 2-3 Man United, November 1993
It all looked to be going to plan for City when Niall Quinn headed Brian Horton’s men into a two goal lead before half time as United battled to retain their Premiere League title in November 1993.
But Michel Vonk’s wayward back header was pounced upon by Eric Cantona to halve the deficit before the Frenchman made it 2-2 on 78 minutes, slotting home a perfectly weighted through ball from Ryan Giggs. And with just three minutes left a young Roy Keane, who never stopped running that day, smashed home the winner in his first Manchester derby.
Earlier in the day City fans had taunted their red rivals for giving up a two goal lead to go out of the European Cup to Galatasaray a few days earlier. Needless to say, victory had never been so sweet for the thousands of United fans stood on the Kipppax and scattered around Main Road that afternoon.
Manchester United 5-0 Manchester City, November 1994
Just eight days previously the gulf in class between United’s form in the league and their failings in Europe had been highlighted by a humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of Barcelona. So when City arrived at Old Trafford on a cold November night, they could have been excused for fancying their chances.
But City would never manage a win against their near neighbours throughout the 1990s and this demolition was without doubt their biggest failing. Eric Cantona opened the scoring with Mark Hughes and a hat-trick from Andrei Kanchelskis completing the drubbing on one of the most memorable derby nights Old Trafford had ever seen. United had finally avenged that 5-1 humbling some five years previously and what a way to do it.
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