Manchester City now control their own destiny in the race for the Premier League title. They never allowed cross-town rivals Manchester United to get started in their massive Manchester Derby and found one goal in first half stoppage time to take control. It was their only goal and their only great chance, but it didn't matter, as they comfortably held on for a 1-0 victory over the Red Devils.
Alex Ferguson made the surprising decision to keep Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and all three of his first team true center forwards out of the starting XI. He instead opted for Park Ji-Sung and Ryan Giggs as United attempted to keep their shape and deny midfield space and scoring opportunities to their opponents.
For most of the first half, it looked like they were going to be able to pull it off. They were actually the more aggressive side in the opening 15 minutes, but started to back off a bit and worry more about keeping their positioning than winning the ball for the last 30 minutes of the second half. City controlled the game and had plenty of possession around the United box in the first half, but struggled to create scoring chances.
They couldn't break through the Red Devils' midfield and defense from open play, but they created a goal in first half stoppage time from a corner kick. Samir Nasri provided the delivery, with Vincent Kompany providing the finish. He rose up above Chris Smalling to win a very well-hit ball by Nasri and powered the ball into the back of the net with a header from six yards, putting his team ahead 1-0 at the break.
Even though his team struggled to create chances in the opening 45 minutes and they were in serious need of a goal, Ferguson did not opt to make any halftime changes. His team continued to struggle going forward after the break, prompting him to make his first change in the 58th minute by bringing on Danny Welbeck for Park. Valencia and Young would come on later in the half for Nani and Paul Scholes, but failed to make much of a difference for their side going forward.
City didn't look in much danger in the closing minutes when United should have been pushing as hard as possible for an equalizer, and created chances late in the game. In the 88th minute, De Gea made a great low save on a shot by Gael Clichy. Nasri had an excellent chance to seal the win for his team and erase any doubt in the 89th minute, but took too long to shoot from the edge of the six-yard box and eventually gave the ball away when it was easier to shoot.
In the end, City's failure to capitalize on their late chances didn't harm them. United continued to fail to test Joe Hart, allowing City to walk away from the derby as 1-0 winners. The Red Devils managed just four shot attempts in the match and did not hit the target once. United and City are now level on top of the Premier League with 83 points, but they have a seven-goal advantage on the Red Devils on goal differential. If the Citizens don't drop points in their last two matches, they will lift the Premier League title.