Manchester United substitute Michael Owen broke Manchester City hearts with a dramatic winning goal deep into injury time at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Owen cropped up in the fifth minute of added time to latch on to a Ryan Giggs pass and beat Shay Given with a trademark neat finish to give United a 4-3 victory in a pulsating seven-goal derby. City hit back to equalize three times, with Crag Bellamy’s second in the last minute of normal time looking set to give them a deserved share of the spoils. Darren Fletcher had put United ahead for the third time with an 80th minute header, his second of the afternoon, until Bellamy capitalized on a sloppy pass by Rio Ferdinand to race half the length of the pitch to score. With both teams occupying top four spots before the start of the weekend fixtures, it was an early test of big-spending City’s title credentials and they passed the test only to be let down by defensive frailties as United continually upped the ante.
Owen scores as United thump Wigan
Arsenal and Liverpool secure vital wins
Adebayor helps City stun Gunners
Ferguson blasts ‘cocky’ City
United made a storming start to the proceedings and with only two minutes on the clock Wayne Rooney took advantage of indecision in the City defense to score. A quick free kick by the superlative Giggs, playing in his 30th Manchester derby, saw him find Patrice Evra inside the penalty area. The Frenchman picked out Rooney whose clever control saw him elude weak challenges and he fired past Given from close range. It might have been the signal for an easy home victory, but the visitors established a foothold in the game before a calamitous mistake by United goalkeeper Ben Foster handed them a lifeline. Under challenge from former teammate Carlos Tevez on the edge of the penalty area, the England international tried to dribble round the Argentine only to be robbed of the ball. Tevez played the ball into the path of Gareth Barry who chose his spot from 20 meters to beat the despairing dive of Nemanja Vidic. Tevez missed a golden opportunity to put City ahead just before halftime as Kolo Toure intercepted a Rooney pass to charge forward. His neat pass fell invitingly for Tevez, but his shot thumped against the post. United went ahead within seconds of the restart as Evra and Giggs combined down the left and Fletcher headed past Given at the far post. But once again City did not allow United to lead for long as Bellamy cut in from the left and beat Foster with a stunning drive. The goal sparked United into a spell of total domination and in quick succession Given made stunning saves to deny close range headers from Dimitar Berbatov, then tipped over a volley drive by the rampant Giggs. Fletcher’s header from another pinpoint Giggs cross looked to have settled the affair with 10 minutes left until Ferdinand’s error set up an incredible finale, his blushes spared by Owen, who has rarely featured in league action since his arrival on a free transfer in the summer transfer window.