MANCHESTER, England (AP):
Manchester City delayed the surrender of their English Premier League title to Manchester United yesterday, beating the runaway leaders 2-1 in a frenetic derby, thanks to substitute Sergio Aguero's stunning late goal.
The Argentina striker slalomed through United's defence and arrowed a finish high into the net in the 78th minute, cutting second-place City's deficit to 12 points with seven rounds remaining.
The result ended United's 4 1/2-month unbeaten run in the league and will retrieve some local pride for the champions.
"We showed we deserved to stay closer to the title, but it is finished," said City manager Roberto Mancini, sticking to the stance he has adopted for the past three weeks.
Controlling possession for long periods with its extra man in midfield, City gave United an uncomfortable evening at Old Trafford. It was nothing like the 6-1 drubbing City delivered at the same stadium last season, but this win was just about deserved.
"A derby is always a special game for us and to be able to win is massive," City captain Vincent Kompany said. "I do believe the way we finish this season will have an impact on how we do next season. This is a good win to have under our belt and we will take it into the next season."
Kompany scored the winner in last season's April meeting between the two rivals, continuing City's last-gasp charge to a first title in 44 years, but it was his own goal here that looked to have denied his team victory.
The Belgium centre back inadvertently deflected in Phil Jones' bundled header from Robin van Persie's devilish in-swinging free kick in the 58th minute, cancelling out James Milner's 51st-minute opener for City that took a slight ricochet off the knee of Jones.
Either side could have won it in an end-to-end final half hour, but it was Aguero who made the difference with a goal that had echoes of his title-winning strike in the final seconds of last season.
"There were lots of plus signs. Our form is good, I have no complaints. If you look at the whole thing, it's not a bad day for us in terms of the performance level," Ferguson said in an upbeat assessment of his team. "You don't want to lose a derby game, but we're OK."