Manchester United 3 Manchester City 1

Saturday 13th December
Old Trafford, Manchester

It was the red half of Manchester that was celebrating long into the night, following the 129th Manchester derby. Despite all their efforts, City were unable to contain a Manchester United side that was being led from the front by Paul Scholes, who made his first start in two months following his groin injury.

United were out of the blocks at a pace, with fluid passing and confident play seeing United dominate play in the first half, and leading to a two-nil lead at half-time.

It was the returning hero, Scholes, who grabbed the first. A Gary Neville cross after some good work by Kleberson was met by his ginger head, and the ball was sent into the back of the net, beyond Seaman's reach. United celebrated ferociously, but did not allow themselves to become sidetracked once play restarted. They resumed their calm and patient mantle, and created chance after chance.

First Giggs blasted wide, then Scholes, but all could feel the pressure rising. And then it came. A slip by City centre-back Richard Dunne saw the ball run into Giggs' path. Van Nistelrooy had already set off running, waiting for the pass. Dunne chased back all that he could, but was ultimately unable to catch the Flying Dutchman. Giggs' inch-perfect cross met Ruud in the six-yard box. With Seaman stranded, United's top-scorer headed simply home to effectively take all three points.

Kleberson was still putting clever touches on the ball, and Keane and Phil Neville putting crunching tackles in, as the half-time whistle went. The United players could be grateful to their blue counterparts for their ineptitude, which saved them the "hairdryer treatment" from Fergie.

It ws City, however inept, who made the most of the first few minutes of the second half. Having failed to test Howard once in the first half, they had a speculative chance, with a deflected Fowler shot nearly catching the American out. A little momentum was building, although most believed that they had neither the ability nor the chances to get back into the game.

Wright-Phillips stumbled and played the ball through Scholes legs just outside the box. His clever run into the box ended with a shot through the defence, which dribbled across the box just out of reach of the inspirational Howard.

But if City thought that a goal would get them back into the game then they were wrong. A strong United side were unwilling to relinquish any points, and immediately took control of the ball, and the game, again.

They pushed and pushed, but still failed to break the City defence for a third time. Giggs shot wide again, and Ruud's low drive was pushed by Seaman on to the post, before Scholes headed home to seal the game. Ten seconds after hitting the post, Gary Neville threw the ball into play. Kleberson held the ball, and laid it back off to Neville. His second cross of the match was as true as the first, and was once-again met by the red-haired talisman. An emphatic headed finish was enough to see United continue their title-charge.

Man Utd: Howard, Gary Neville, Ferdinand, Silvestre, O'Shea, Kleberson (Ronaldo 74), Phil Neville, Keane, Giggs, Scholes, Van Nistelrooy. Subs not used: Carroll, Butt, Forlan, Fortune.

Man City: Seaman, Jihai, Dunne, Sommeil, Distin, Wright-Phillips, McManaman, Barton, Sinclair (Wanchope 81), Fowler, Anelka.

Subs Not Used: Stuhr-Ellegaard, Reyna, Sibierski, Berkovic. Booked: Barton, Jihai.

Attendance: 67,645.

Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).