Down to the wire: Manchester United surrender momentum to leave title in City's sights ahead of biggest derby in history

  • Now, Putrajaya denies giving RM100 million grant to bank-rejected firm

    Putrajaya today denied that it had awarded NSE Resources Corporation Malaysia Sdn Bhd (NSERC) a RM100 million grant, as claimed by a PKR leader. Malaysiakini reported that Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Abu Bakar Mohd Diah today revealed the list of grant recipients by his ministry. The list, which has more than... …

  • Obama to seek fresh start with Malaysia in overdue visit
    Obama to seek fresh start with Malaysia in overdue visit

    Barack Obama will this weekend become the first US president to visit Malaysia for nearly 50 years, seeking to put decades of uneasy relations behind him as both cast wary eyes on a rising China. Obama – who visits Saturday-Monday – is expected to tout the US's friendship with the economically thriving moderate Muslim nation. As one of... …

  • Malaysian jailed 8 weeks for Singapore border dash

    A Malaysian motorist who tried to dodge Singapore's border control has been jailed for eight weeks after a judge rejected his pleas that he was lost and overheating in his car, officials said today. Koh Chin Had, a 42-year-old poultry seller, tailgated another car passing through a raised barrier on April 13, triggering a security lockdown on... …

  • KL school not allowed as Karpal memorial venue

    The Education Department has rejected the use of a school in Kuala Lumpur for a memorial service for Karpal Singh as it is perceived as a political event, said its organisers DAP in a press conference today. The memorial service was scheduled to be held tomorrow night at SJK(C) Chung Kwo near Jalan Loke Yew, Kuala Lumpur, said acting DAP chairperson Tan Kok Wai. …

  • Student group not happy over Obama’s Universiti Malaya visit
    Student group not happy over Obama’s Universiti Malaya visit

    Student group Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM) is against US President Barack Obama's (pic) scheduled visit to Universiti Malaya on Sunday where he is expected to host a town hall session with young leaders from Southeast Asia. In a statement, the student group said that this was because Obama had disappointed many quarters, including... …

  • Cops to act on May 1 rally if 'public order threatened'

    The police would act against the May 1 anti-GST rally if it is found to be threatening public order, Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigations Department (CID) deputy chief ACP Khairi Ahrasa said today. Khairi ( at podium ) said so when pressed by reporters on whether the cops were planning to make any pre-emptive arrests ahead of the rally, in order to prevent the rally from going on as planned. …

By Greg Stobart | UK Correspondent

So much for game over. Roberto Mancini can no longer pretend his Manchester City side have no chance of winning the Premier League and tonight the Italian will be raising a glass to Steven Pienaar as his thoughts turn to derby day.

It always seemed destined to come down to next Monday’s all-Manchester clash, despite all of the twists and turns, the peaks and dips over the season in what has been a two-horse race for as long as anyone can remember.

City will go into that game at the Etihad Stadium knowing that three wins from their final three games will be enough to make them league champions for the first time in 44 years. Their superior goal difference to their neighbours - six goals - means they are likely to top the table even if the cross-city rivals finish with the same number of points.

It did not look like it would be that way with seven minutes to play at Old Trafford on Sunday and United leading 4-2 against Everton. At that moment, Sir Alex Ferguson may have even been considering the prospect of winning the title on the ‘noisy neighbours’ own turf.

When he delivered a double fist salute to the Stretford End, he gave the impression that he was confident his side had done enough.

But late goals from Nikica Jelavic and Pienaar turned the game, and the title race, on its head, resulting in a 4-4 final scoreline to put City back in a title race that looked a foregone conclusion a fortnight ago.

When City lost to Arsenal on April 8, they were eight points behind their great rivals with six games to play. Questions were raised over Mancini’s future while some United fans created t-shirts celebrating a record-breaking 20th title.

The stunt, six weeks before the end of the season, always felt premature but nobody expected United would let their rivals back in the hunt so easily. City took full advantage in the later kick-off at Molineux, beating Wolves 2-0 to reduce the gap at the summit to three points.

Now all of a sudden City have the momentum, having come through their bad patch and won three games in a row. The partnership between Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero is clicking, providing the catalyst for fresher, more energetic performances.

The same could not be said for a United, whose showing against Everton summed up their performances for much of the campaign. Brilliant but careless, Ferguson’s men scored some superb goals but were woefully complacent at the back and left the Toffees with far too much space in the penalty area when they should have shut up shop.

United hunted City down to take top spot in the Premier League but now now must get something from a game they thought on Sunday morning they could afford to lose.

"We've given [Manchester City] the initiative, there's no doubt about that," Sir Alex told Sky Sports on Sunday.

"It makes the game at the Etihad a real important game. It's the decider really. We make it hard for ourselves as we normally do. But we have to go there knowing that we're capable of getting a result.

“There's no reason why we can't do that but there's almost an expectancy from City that this could be their decider, but it's our decider too.

"There will be a reaction, alright, there's no question about that. Next Monday against City, it's always a derby game of the highest proportions, and this won't be any different. Yes, [it's] definitely [the most important of my career]. Game on."

While City’s mini-slump was considered inevitable, no-one expected United to loosen their grip on the baton once they turned into the home straight as clear leaders.

They must now show the superior mental strength and team spirit strangely attributed to them by Mancini.  The proven winners in the squad - from Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes to Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand - must lead by example when the pressure is really on.

Rooney played his part against Everton, scoring twice to take his tally for the season to 26, in the process becoming the fourth highest goalscorer in the club’s history on 180 goals.

But the United players’ faces at full-time told the story. After the humbling 6-1 demolition at the hands of City at Old Trafford in October, they face the ultimate test of character under the lights at the Etihad Stadium.

The build-up has already begun as this compelling modern rivalry embarks on its latest, most significant chapter. It will be the Premier League’s answer to El Clasico. Manchester waits - and both sides of the city will have the champagne on ice.

Follow @YahooMalaysia on LINE for daily news updates.

Comments on Yahoo pages are subject to our link to Comments Guidelines. You are responsible for any content that you post. Yahoo is not responsible or liable in any way for comments posted by its users. Yahoo does not in any way endorse or support comments made by its users.

  • MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer The Malaysian Insider
    MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer

    The partner of an American passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has spoken about how a Fox executive who was recently sacked by the news station had contacted her offering to raise funds on her behalf. Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood is among the 239 people on board the missing plane, told the Sydney Morning Herald... …

  • MB: Only 29 days of water left in Selangor Malaysiakini

    Although heavy rain led to flash floods in parts of the Klang Valley yesterday, the Selangor government has said that taps will run completely dry in 29 days if rationing is not continued. "For now, we must continue with rationing as the level at the main dam, the Sungai Selangor dam, is below the critical level and can only last 29 days if rationing is not conducted," Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said in a statement.   "We really hope the rakyat understands this situation and supports …

  • Dr Ling’s son chose wine over woman, court hears The Malaysian Insider
    Dr Ling’s son chose wine over woman, court hears

    The son of former MCA president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik today reached an out of court settlement with his ex-girlfriend in a breach of contract suit over seven properties registered under their joint names. Ling Hee Leong and businesswoman Teh Chee Yen agreed to settle out of court after he took the stand briefly and testified that he had chosen... …