LONDON - Robin van Persie scored a stoppage-time winner as Manchester United clinched a dramatic 3-2 away victory over Manchester City to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to six points yesterday.
United looked to have squandered a chance to claim the Manchester derby bragging rights when Pablo Zabaleta's equaliser with four minutes remaining completed a brave comeback from City, who had been given a lifeline by Yaya Toure's second-half goal after trailing to a first-half brace from Wayne Rooney.
But Alex Ferguson's side underlined their determination to wrestle the title back from City with a sensational response through van Persie, whose deflected free-kick handed the champions their first Premier League defeat of the season and their first home league loss since Everton won at Eastlands in December 2010.
"Today was a special one simply because they haven't lost at home for two years, both of us are contending at the top of the league," said Ferguson, who was angry that Ashley Young had a goal ruled out before City pulled one back.
"I thought we should have finished the game off. It should have been 3-0, the goal was perfectly onside, then they go up and score.
"Football can kick you in the teeth that way. They came back, were fighting like hell. But up to that point I thought we were far better than them.
"I think we can be proud of the fact that, opposed to last year when we gave them far too much respect, the players were determined to win it."
City manager Roberto Mancini added: "We didn't deserve to lose this game. We played very well.
"For 20 minutes they didn't touch the ball and the first chance they got they scored a goal.
"We recovered very well and we dominated the second-half. We have showed we are a really strong team and we can win this title again."