5 Great Manchester City Goals vs. United from the Past 15 Years
Sheikh Mansour's takeover of City in 2008 sparked a reduction in the gap between the two sides, but it wasn’t until City’s 2011 FA Cup semi-final win over United that it felt they were becoming a force.
Since that day, City have been more successful. They are often the favourites to beat United when the two sides play—unthinkable just a few years ago. During the '90s and early '00s, United would start every derby as firm favourites, and more often than not, the form book played out.
The two sides meet again on Sunday in the 171st Manchester derby with both struggling for consistency. United are widely seen as having a disastrous season, yet they are just four points behind City in the Premier League table. There’s a race on for the top four. And City, favourites for the title after the first few weeks of the season, aren’t guaranteed Champions League football in 2016-17.
Sunday’s game at the Etihad Stadium may not rival some of the recent encounters in terms of importance, but there’s still plenty riding on it.
The FA Cup semi-final at Wembley in 2011 saw the changing of the guard; the 1-0 win City achieved a year later in the Premier League put them in the driving seat for their first title in 44 years. The magnitude of those occasions will seldom be matched, but Sunday's encounter certainly carries its own significance. If there is a victor, it would be a disaster for whichever team loses.
Manuel Pellegrini will leave City at the end of the season and will want to go out on a positive note. A strong league finish and further progress in the Champions League would help lift some of the gloom that has descended because of their poor league campaign.
United need a top-four finish and, perhaps, an FA Cup win to salvage something from their season.
It’s not what either was expecting back in August.
Here we take a look back at some of the best City goals against United over the past 15 years.
The goals here are ranked purely on technical ability. The importance of the goal was disregarded.
Hatem Trabelsi: United 3-1 City, 2006
Hatem Trabelsi would be few people's first thought when they think of players who have graced this fixture down the years, but he did manage one moment of extreme quality.
It came during City's 3-1 defeat to United back in December 2006, a result that saw the Reds go nine points clear at the top of the table.
City were 2-0 down in the 73rd minute when the ball fell to Trabelsi, a former Ajax defender, who shifted the ball to his left to buy himself a yard before unleashing an unstoppable strike in off the bar. Edwin van der Sar, a brilliant goalkeeper, could do nothing.
Shaun Goater: City 3-1 United, 2002
Shaun Goater’s first goal in City’s 3-1 win over United in November 2002, in what was the last derby played at Maine Road, will always be something special. The way he dispossessed Gary Neville and finished past Fabien Barthez from an angle was exquisite.
But his second, which made it 3-1 and sealed City’s first win over United since beating them 5-1 in September 1989, was perhaps even better.
Niclas Jensen played a ball in from the left that was cushioned beautifully, first-time, by the ever-impressive Eyal Berkovic. Goater took one touch and held a defender off before chipping Barthez wonderfully.
In the last game against United at Maine Road, Goater scored twice, his 99th and 100th goals for the club, and secured a long overdue victory.
Sergio Aguero: United 1-2 City, 2013
Sergio Aguero’s record against United is impressive. He has eight goals in eight games, including a wonderful winner in a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford back in 2013 that will live long in the memory.
He used his trademark move—a run across the box, from left to right—taking out three United defenders, including a sprawling Phil Jones, before smashing the ball into the roof of the net past Davis De Gea, who had no chance.
It demonstrated everything good about Aguero: pace, balance, technique and devastating finishing ability.
It had been a limp title defence from City—but a late-season win over their local rivals provided some cheer.
Shaun Wright-Phillips: City 4-1 United, 2004
City's 4-1 win over United in March 2004 was one of those unexpected derby victories of the kind no one saw coming, and therefore the impact of the result felt more significant.
And there's no doubt whose goal was the best. Shaun Wright-Phillips, for so long the only exciting thing about watching City, marauded down the right as United's players tired before firing the ball past Tim Howard from an impossible angle.
This, let's not forget, was a formidable United side. Ruud van Nistelrooy, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo all played. City, who more much-improved from their late-1990s nadir but still short of being a quality top-flight team, had the likes of Antoine Sibierski and Jon Macken on the pitch.
Wright-Phillips' goal will be remembered forever in the blue half of Manchester.
Craig Bellamy: United 4-3 City, 2009
It was one of the most gut-wrenching derby experiences City fans have ever had—but Craig Bellamy’s first goal in the 4-3 defeat at Old Trafford back in September 2009 was unbelievably good.
With City looking increasingly strong, United were desperate to fend them off and show everyone they remained the best team in Manchester.
The home side were 2-1 up when Bellamy got the ball on the edge of the area. He cut inside and smacked one toward the far top corner. And to the surprise of everyone inside Old Trafford, it flew past Ben Foster. Unstoppable.
Bellamy scored again late on from an incredibly tight angle to make it 3-3—before Michael Owen’s goal six minutes into added time saw United claim victory.
It wasn’t long, though, before City overtook their rivals.
Everyone will have their own take, so as always, feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section below.