LONDON, Feb 12, 2011 (AFP) - Wayne Rooney produced a moment of match-winning magic as his stunning overhead kick gave Manchester United a crucial 2-1 victory over Manchester City in Saturday's derby at Old Trafford.
United had seen Nani's first-half opener cancelled out after the break when David Silva deflected in an Edin Dzeko shot, but Rooney's spectacular late strike ensured Sir Alex Ferguson's side hold the bragging rights over their bitter rivals.
Rooney's sixth goal of the season kept league leaders United four points clear of second placed Arsenal, who beat Wolves 2-0, and eight ahead of third placed City.
|Rooney (2nd L) scores Manchester United's second goal between Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Vincent Kompany (L) and English defender Micah Richards (R) during the match on February 12, 2011. AFP|
Ferguson saluted Rooney's winner as the best he had ever seen at Old Trafford.
"It was stunning," he said. "We've had some fantastic goals here - Rooney hit a volley against Newcastle some years ago - but in terms of execution you'll never see that."
Nani opened the scoring for United in sublime fashion in the 41st minute.
The move began when Rooney flicked on Edwin van der Sar's huge punt to Ryan Giggs. The Welsh midfielder played a superb pass through to Nani, who produced a fine first touch before surging clear of Pablo Zabaleta to shoot low beyond Joe Hart.
City levelled in the 65th minute thanks to a moment of extreme good fortune.
Shaun Wright-Phillips crossed to Dzeko but the Bosnian substitute's shot was going wide until it hit Silva and looped past the wrong-footed Van der Sar.
But Rooney stole the show with one of the goals of the season in the 78th minute. Nani's deflected cross looped towards the England forward and his acrobatic aerial volley flashed past Hart.
At the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal kept the pressure on United with a comfortable win against Wolves.
Van Persie put Arsene Wenger's team ahead in the 16th minute with an emphatic volley from a Cesc Fabregas cross.
Wolves had ended United's 29-match unbeaten run last week, but they are back at the bottom of the table after Dutch forward Van Persie delivered the knockout blow with a 56th minute header.
Wenger, whose side blew a four-goal lead in a 4-4 draw at Newcastle last week, said: "The chances we created and the speed of our play was fantastic.
"We wanted to come back and win after last week - we know what we want to achieve; we are in the title race and in a good position."
Tottenham climbed above Chelsea into fourth place as Niko Kranjcar's goal clinched a 2-1 win at Sunderland.
With Spurs defender William Gallas changing his boots on the side of the pitch, Asamoah Gyan took advantage of the extra space to score in the 11th minute.
But Tottenham equalised just before half-time through Michael Dawson's header and Croatian midfielder Kranjcar bagged the winner for the second successive week in the 57th minute.
Liverpool's recent revival stalled as struggling Wigan earned a 1-1 draw at Anfield.
Kenny Dalglish's side, without injured captain Steven Gerrard, struck first when Raul Meireles bagged his fourth goal in five games in the 24th minute.
However, Wigan shocked the Reds when Steve Gohouri prodded in the equaliser in the 65th minute.
West Ham staged a remarkable fightback to draw 3-3 at relegation rivals West Bromwich Albion.
Avram Grant's side trailed 3-0 in the first half. With former Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson watching from the stands following his appointment as Albion chief on Friday, Graeme Dorrans opened the scoring in the third minute and Jerome Thomas netted the second five minutes later before Winston Reid's 32nd minute own goal put Albion further ahead.
But West Ham, who move off the bottom of the table, refused to surrender and Demba Ba reduced the deficit in the 50th minute. Carlton Cole netted for the visitors eight minutes later and Senegal striker Ba swept in a superb equaliser in the 83rd minute.
Blackpool ended their losing run with a 1-1 draw against 10-man Aston Villa at Bloomfield Road.
Villa took the lead in the 10th minute when Gabriel Agbonlahor rounded goalkeeper Richard Kingson and slotted home.
But Ian Holloway's men, who had lost five in a row, equalised four minutes later when Elliott Grandin headed home.
Villa midfielder Jean Makoun was sent off in the second half but the visitors held on.
Birmingham striker Nikola Zigic scored in stoppage time to clinch a 1-0 win over Stoke, while Blackburn shared a 0-0 draw with Newcastle.