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Manchester derbies

The undoubted star attraction of the FA Cup third round brings the Manchester clubs together once more in their battle for supremacy. Here, we take a look at some of the other great clashes between the clubs.

Manchester United 3-1 Manchester City (First Division, 1907-08)

The first meeting between the two great Manchester clubs occurred in 1881 - the teams then known as St Mark's (West Gorton) and Newton Heath - and they would meet several times over the coming years in the Manchester Cup, Football Alliance and FA Cup. The first league meeting came in the Second Division in 1894, and the first top-flight meeting in 1906.

It was during 1906 that a City player, Billy Meredith, exposed the fact that the club had been breaking the wage cap, and the club fell into disarray. The scandal saw a number of players - Meredith, Sandy Turnbull, Jimmy Bannister and Herbert Burgess - head over to the red half of Manchester.

For their part in the affair, the four players had been banned from football until January 1, 1907, but when they became available again they lifted Manchester United from 15th to eighth in the table by the end of the 1906-07 campaign. In 1907-08, their presence helped Manchester United to win the league title for the first time.

The animosity between the clubs was not nearly so pronounced in those days - many fans in the city watched both clubs on a regular basis - and the first meeting after the City exodus to United, a 1-1 draw in April 1907, did not provoke undue tension. "The most violent demonstration of partisanship that one saw was the mild pelting of a red umbrella that was raised behind the further goal," The Guardian reporter wrote. "In a gradual manner it was made clear to him that if he wished to enjoy his umbrella another day it was necessary to close it, and at last he did."

However, the next meeting, at Bank Street in December 1907, was a little more intense, and Turnbull - one of those to cross over to United - became the first player to be sent off in a Manchester derby. In rainy conditions in which the play had been reduced almost to farce, Turnbull had scored twice but persistently caused trouble and was dismissed after he, The Guardian said, "lost self-control so far as to strike Dorsett to the ground". Meredith also went out of his way to humiliate his opponent and the paper added: "There were many other exhibitions of foul play ... When the end came many of the crowd were glad they could turn their backs on it all."

Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City (First Division, 1925-26)

While the result of October 2011 provoked genuine astonishment, it pales in comparison with that of January 1926. Old Trafford had seen 50,000 fans crammed in - the highest attendance of the day - to watch United, five points behind leaders Arsenal with a game in hand, take on a City side sitting second from bottom in the table.

Incredibly, City completely outplayed their local rivals from start to finish, running out 6-1 winners and prompting the Daily Mirror to lead its coverage with the headline: "Manchester City startle the football world". For City it proved a false dawn: they lost their next match 5-1 to Huddersfield and were relegated come the end of the season.

Manchester United 4-1 Manchester City (First Division, 1957-58)

Though not the Busby Babes' final derby, the meeting of August 1957 at Old Trafford was the last in which they truly shone.

United had won their first two games of the season 3-0, and there were indications that they were benefiting from their exposure to European Cup football the previous season, having become the first English side to do so (Football League secretary Alan Hardaker had a distaste for all things continental).

Over 63,000 fans were present for the derby, and they witnessed stunning goals from Duncan Edwards, Johnny Berry, Dennis Viollet and Tommy Taylor for the home side and Ken Barnes for the visitors. The Guardian called it "a feast of smooth, mercurial attacking play" comparable to United's 10-0 demolition of Anderlecht 11 months earlier and added that all five goals on the day "might have been picked from a show case to illustrate the art of goal-scoring in all its various phases".

The young side were unable to fulfil their unquestionable potential. In February, having just qualified for the semi-finals of the European Cup in Belgrade, their aeroplane slipped on an icy runway in Munich, killing eight Manchester United players, including Edwards and Taylor, alongside 15 others.

Manchester United 1-3 Manchester City (First Division, 1967-68)

Manchester United were to become the first English side to win the European Cup in 1968, and they had been top of the First Division for the best part of the three months leading up to the meeting with their local rivals on March 27.

However, by the time of that derby at Old Trafford - rescheduled from February 10 due to the weather - a couple of defeats had seen them drop to second, just two points ahead of Manchester City. "If the next few days do not shake the world, they could come desperately close to doing so," The Guardian had said in the week before the match.

United made the perfect start to the game as Nobby Stiles found George Best, who danced around Tony Book before firing into the net with only 35 seconds played. City were undeterred: on 18 minutes, Colin Bell artfully drove the ball past goalkeeper Alex Stepney and, early in the second half, George Heslop headed City in front. United could not muster a response, and Francis Burns fouled Bell late in the game and conceded a penalty from which Francis Lee scored. Bell - City's finest player - was subsequently ruled out of their next four games, but returned in April as City won their final four matches of the season to clinch the title.

Manchester City 3-3 Manchester United (First Division, 1971-72)

The meeting of November 1971 ranks as one of the very finest Manchester derbies. The United team of Best, Law and Charlton were sitting atop the table, while the City team of Lee, Summerbee and Bell were only three points behind in third.

Over 63,000 fans packed into Maine Road for the contest, but the usual terrace wars were subdued by the sheer quality of the entertainment. "In 25 years, I have not seen a more exciting derby game in Manchester nor one at which the spectators were better behaved," The Guardian's Eric Todd wrote. "They must have been too exhausted and absorbed to engage in private battles."

United went two goals in front - 17-year-old debutant Sammy McIlroy firing home in the 39th minute before Brian Kidd doubled the advantage swiftly after the break - and City then saw a Colin Bell header disallowed for offside. Hope returned for the hosts when they won a 57th-minute penalty that Francis Lee converted, and Lee then turned provider for Bell to equalise with 25 minutes to play. United were back in front three minutes later when Alan Gowling deflected the ball home, but City battled back again as Mike Summerbee smashed in an equaliser off the underside of the bar.

The game was barely controlled by referee Ray Tinkler as the fouls flew in - and at one stage Lee was moved to throw himself to the floor in mockery of Best's theatrical claims to injury - but the football had won out by its conclusion. "There were handshakes and hugs all round as the players left the field to a great ovation," Todd wrote. "Even in a Manchester derby it seemingly is possible to love thy neighbour. Well, after the match anyway."

For all the star names on show, it was McIlroy who stole the headlines, and Sir Matt Busby - who had just returned to a directorial role - said after the game: "By 1974, he will be one of the best footballers in the world."

Manchester United 0-1 Manchester City (First Division, 1973-74)

Destined to forever remain the most significant of all derbies, the game of April 27, 1974, saw Manchester United legend Denis Law make his first return to Old Trafford and score the goal that ended his former club's hopes of avoiding relegation, as discussed in an earlier Rewind article.

Manchester City 5-1 Manchester United (First Division, 1989-90)

Alex Ferguson had invested heavily in the summer of 1989, putting the club into debt in a bid to kickstart the Manchester United revival, but he was about to suffer what he would term his "most embarrassing defeat" when newly-promoted Manchester City hosted their rivals at Maine Road.

City, who had won only one of their first five fixtures and were 18th in the table, opened the scoring in the 11th minute through midfielder David Oldfield after some dallying from Gary Pallister, the most expensive player in the league. Two minutes later, Trevor Morley made it 2-0, and an Ian Bishop header put City 3-0 up by half-time.

The away fans put up more of a fight than their team when they headed into the home section to attack the City supporters, causing an eight-minute delay to the game. On the field, United also threatened to make a battle of it when Mark Hughes pulled a goal back, but Oldfield and Andy Hinchcliffe scored in quick succession to end the resistance.

Chants of "Ferguson out" duly rang around the away section of Maine Road, yet the manager remained defiant. "Every time someone looks at me I feel I have betrayed that man. You feel as if you are some kind of criminal, but that's only because you care," he told The Guardian's Hugh McIlvanney that week. "I certainly don't regret for a moment asking [chairman] Martin Edwards to go into the red to buy big in the summer. I said: 'We have to go for broke, we have to show that we want to win the league, that we are not going to accept Liverpool's dominance'."

United ended the campaign in 13th, but the restoration of former glories began as they clinched the FA Cup, their first piece of silverware under Ferguson.

Manchester United 5-0 Manchester City (Premier League, 1994-95)

The 1994-95 campaign ended up being particularly cruel to United fans, who had become reacquainted with the taste of success after two title triumphs in the previous two seasons. They lost their fight for the title to Blackburn on the last day and then the FA Cup final to Everton a week later; even so, the 5-0 victory over their city rivals in November at least allowed them to reflect on 1994-95 more fondly.

With Eric Cantona in inspired form, and City so depleted by injury that fourth-choice goalkeeper Simon Tracey was between the sticks, United eased to victory. Cantona collected a long pass from Andrei Kanchelskis to stylishly open the scoring, and the Ukrainian then netted his first hat-trick for the club before Mark Hughes completed the scoring. Niall Quinn, City's stand-in captain that night, called it his "worst night in football".

The result - aside from an unofficial 7-1 win in April 1941 in the wartime North Regional League - remains United's biggest ever victory over City.

Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United (Premier League, 1995-96)

The derby has produced its fair share of dramatic late goals, but the meeting of April 1996 had extra zest as it was a season in which City were battling the drop and United chasing the title.

The game was played just days after Newcastle had lost their footing in the title race after the remarkable 4-3 defeat to Liverpool, and United - three points ahead but having played an extra game - knew that, to keep themselves top of the table, they needed to stick the knife into their city rivals.

Eric Cantona's early penalty looked certain to help them achieve that task, but City had handed a debut to Georgia striker Mikhail Kavelashvili - signed on the recommendation of Georgi Kinkladze - in the hope that he could bolster their fight for survival, and the new boy netted an equaliser six minutes before the break. Within a minute, though, United were 2-1 ahead as Cantona slipped the ball through for Andy Cole to fire home.

In the second half, with City short of class, manager Alan Ball brought on Uwe Rosler, the German striker who had been a club favourite but was struggling for form and had fallen out with the boss. Within five minutes, Rosler had levelled, firing home a phenomenal goal before running to the bench, angrily shouting at Ball and pointing to his name and number on the back of his shirt.

Sadly for Rosler, he was soon to be upstaged by a club favourite dressed in red. Ryan Giggs, 13 minutes from time, accepted a pass from Cantona before powering in a shot that, David Lacey wrote in The Guardian, "found the top near corner of the City net so cleanly that it was in and out again before anyone quite realised what had happened". City ended the season third from bottom, relegated on goal difference, while United finished four points clear of Newcastle at the top of the table.

Manchester United 4-3 Manchester City (Premier League, 2009-10)

Rarely had there been such bite going into a Manchester derby. A year on from their takeover, City had been spending big on the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Gareth Barry, Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott, but most prominently had, as they put it on a city centre billboard, welcomed Carlos Tevez to Manchester. Sir Alex Ferguson was clearly riled but offered a backhanded compliment - "They are now given a chance to be compared with Manchester United" - while insisting City would be in United's shadow for as long as he lived. The stage was set.

The contest at Old Trafford in September 2009 was a thrilling one from the off, with the crowd living up to Fergie's promise that Tevez would "get a surprise" from the supporters who had so adored him in red and Wayne Rooney drawing first blood on two minutes. Tevez had a hand in Gareth Barry's equaliser on 16 minutes, but Darren Fletcher headed United back in front after the break. Three minutes later, Craig Bellamy equalised with a 25-yard drive. Fletcher again put United ahead in the 80th minute, and again Bellamy - this time in the 90th minute - levelled the scores.

Four minutes of injury time were shown on the board but, as the clock ticked towards the 97th minute, substitute Michael Owen pounced to deliver the winning goal. Ferguson danced a gleeful jig while City boss Mark Hughes was left to protest an apparent mugging. "You could say we feel frustrated and aggrieved but robbed might be a better word because the referee played seven minutes at the end of the game and I don't know where they came from," he said.

Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City (Premier League, 2011-12)

The most recent derby was one of the most jaw-dropping. United had taken the spoils in an enthralling Community Shield encounter in August and, though City had won the FA Cup semi-final meeting in April and were scoring freely in the Premier League, the trip to Old Trafford was a truer test of their mettle. They outstripped all expectation, matching their biggest ever victory over their arch-rivals and inflicting United's worst home defeat since City beat them 5-0 in February 1955.

Mario Balotelli opened the scoring, promptly unveiling a 'Why always me?' T-shirt, and Jonny Evans was sent off early in the second half. Balotelli and Sergio Aguero made it 3-0 and, though Darren Fletcher fired home in style to reduce the arrears, Sir Alex Ferguson was left to watch on in dumbfounded horror as Edin Dzeko scored twice and David Silva once in the dying moments.

United had fallen to their worst ever Premier League defeat and Ferguson to what he called "the worst result in my history". The Scot had little explanation for his players' kamikaze tactics, saying: "With ten men we kept attacking. It was crazy football and ended up being an embarrassment."


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