Sergio Aguero's stunning run and strike 11 minutes from the final whistle gave Manchester City a deserved and emotionally buoying victory over their city rivals Manchester United. James Milner and an own-goal from Vincent Kompany provided the game's other goals.
With the win City closes United's advantage at the top of the table to 12 points but it's unlikely to do much more than delay United from inevitably claiming their 20th league title.
United's best chance of the first half came in the 9th minute when Wayne Rooney found Robin Van Persie in space between two City defenders as he cut in to the box. Rooney's past was a bit light and forced an adjustment from RVP that gave Joe Hart and his defenders a moment to react. RVP still came close but with a tough angle to shot at, he sent the ball wide of the post.
From there City's attack ramped up as they put United under heavy pressure.
In the 17th minute Carlos Tevez failed to get a clean shot in traffic away after receiving a ball headed down to him in the box. Tevez was only able to earn a corner that did not end up troubling the United defense after it was basically wasted by James Milner.
David Silva nearly connected with Tevez in the 21st minute, skillfully redirecting a long ball back across the box that forced a quick move from Phil Jones who dived in front of the Argentine striker could get on the ball.
Silva picked up a yellow card in the 29th minute after a nudge from Rio Ferdinand in the box caused the Spanish midfielder to attempt what looked like a "Hand of God" moment. Whether or not Silva's effort was intentional or caused by being knocked slightly off balance by Ferdinand it open for debate, but the referee went with intentional and handed out the game's first card.
After 30 minutes of entertaining and open attacking play, the match grinded to a halt in the final 15 minutes. The free flowing passing and counter attacking were replaced with crunching tackles and brute force as the two side apparently remembered this is a derby and that's how it's supposed to be.
Ryan Giggs went unpunished, other than a talking to from the referee, for a hard challenge on Vincent Kompany. Three minutes before the break, Kompany was shown a yellow card for going right through Ashley Young. Milner and Patrice Evra were also involved in a collision that left the United fullback down for a minute, but he was able to continue.
City finally broke through six minutes into the second half.
Ryan Giggs made a ridiculously ill advised attempt at a back-heel (find the highlight if you missed it, this is a bad decision to behold) and allowed Gareth Berry to race free down the left wing before centering back to Nasri at the top of the United area. Rafael did an excellent job recovering and cutting off Nasri but he was still able to tee up Milner who was trailing the play for a low, hard shot that went through traffic, appearing to take a slight deflection, and evaded David de Gea to put City up 1-0.
The lead however was short lived.
In the 59th minute United earned a set piece on the right wing after Yaya Toure crashed into Rafael. Van Persie's rocket line drive free kick was headed by Phil Jones off the back or shoulder of Kompany and into the net behind Joe Hart, puling United even at 1-1.
City wrestled the lead back in the 79th minute thanks to a stunning individual effort from second half sub Sergio Aguero. After some patient build-up by City, Toure found Aguero cutting through the middle, 20-yards out on the edge of the United area and the Argentine proceeded to dribble and dummy his way past Ferdinand, Jones and Danny Welbeck before hammering a shot into the roof of the net over De Gea.
It's City's second straight league win over United at Old Trafford. The Citizens embarrassed their rivals 6-1 in October 2012 on their way to their first league title since 1968.