Sunday's thrilling Manchester derby at Etihad Stadium featured moments of brilliance from each squad, but in the end it was Manchester United coming away with three hard-fought points after knocking off Manchester City 3-2 in front of their home supporters.
United's Wayne Rooney came out on fire, scoring two goals within the first 30 minutes to put Sir Alex Ferguson's side up 2-0 by halftime.
An hour into the match Yaya Toure made things interesting when he put City on the board, pulling his side within one goal. Then, with just minutes to play, Argentine defender Pablo Zabaleta put away a clutch goal to level the match.
With just moments to go, however, Robin van Persie came through for United, putting away the game winner and putting his side six points clear of second-place City in the Premier League table.
Wayne Rooney, Manchester United: A
Rooney was in search of blood from the opening kick and delivered twice in the first half, scoring at the 16th- and 29th-minute marks to put United up two goals to none with just over an hour to play.
Although Rooney did receive some quality assists from Ashley Young and Rafael, his world-class finishing in front of the net was on display on both occasions. Rooney made the biggest difference where it matters—on the scoreboard—and for that he earns an A.
You could argue that he should have been more of a factor in the second half, but without Rooney, United may be leaving Etihad with zero points instead of three.
Mario Balotelli, Manchester City: C
The mercurial Italian striker failed to make much of a difference for the home club on Sunday, getting off just two shots during his time on the pitch—one of which fell on target. He was subbed out just minutes into the second half, replaced by Carlos Tevez in the 52nd minute.
Balotelli has just one goal this season in 12 Premier League appearances.
Robin van Persie, Manchester United: A
RVP netted the game-winning goal late, doing exactly what Sir Alex Ferguson's club needed him to do on Sunday. He took chances when he had them and gave Joe Hart something to think about when he struck the ball early on.
Van Persie was active throughout against City and in the end it paid off for him, as he capitalized on his free kick opportunity, sending United home with three points.
Yaya Toure, Manchester City: B
Toure poured in a vital for City on Sunday. Sure, it wasn't enough for Robert Mancini's club, but it was crucial in helping City at least gain an opportunity to draw. Without Toure, Pablo Zabaleta's goal would have been meaningless and the result would have never been in doubt.
Kudos to Toure for sticking with the play after United goalkeeper David De Gea rejected two attempts by Tevez and David Silva.
Rafael, Manchester United: B
Rafael provided United with solid but far-from-flawless defense at the back, and assisted Rooney on his second goal of the match. That first-half feed from Rafael ultimately proved to be a critical one for the Red Devils, who needed all of their three goals to win on Sunday.
Pablo Zabaleta, Manchester City: B
City defender Pablo Zabaleta proved to be a clutch performer for the home side on Sunday, netting a late equalizer to salvage a point for the Blues. Zabaleta crushed a half-volley strike from the edge of the box off a poor clearance, tying the match at two goals apiece.
Unfortunately, the excitement was short-lived for City.
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