Man City back in the race after United throw away victory
30 April derby will be game of 'amazing proportions' says Fergie after 4-4 draw with Everton
SUPER SUNDAY lived up to its billing as the Premier League title race took another dramatic twist yesterday. Just eleven days after losing to Wigan, leaders Manchester United were held to a thrilling 4-4 draw at home to Everton and were then forced to look on as Manchester City defeated Wolves to close the gap to three points.
City's 2-0 victory, which confirmed Wolves' relegation from the top flight, was achieved with goals from Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri in either half and sets up a mouthwatering clash between the two Manchester clubs. The pair meet on Monday 30 April at the Etihad Stadium and with City's goal difference the better by six should they win they will go top of the table. Asked who were now favourites to lift the Premier League crown, however, City boss Roberto Mancini had no hesitation in replying: "United always".
It's been Mancini's mantra for the last fortnight, ever since United opened up an eight-point gap over their neighbours. Since then, however, the favourites' tag seems to have inhibited United while City are playing with an ease not seen since the start of the year.
"They have three more points, they have a game not as difficult as us," said Mancini, when asked to give reasons for backing United. The game in question is United's home match against Swansea on May 6, the same day that City must travel to fourth-place Newcastle.
Alex Ferguson, meanwhile, once he'd recovered from the shock of seeing his United side throw away a 3-1 lead, declared that the Manchester derby will be a match of "amazing proportions".
Ferguson added: "[It's] probably the most important derby game in my time. We have to go there, make sure we perform in the right way and not give away silly goals. There's no reason why we can't [win]. There has been an expectancy from City that this could be their decider, but it's our decider too."
If United are to win, however, they'll have to tighten up a defence that leaked four goals in an astonishing encounter at Old Trafford. Nikica Jelavic headed the visitors in front on 33 minutes but United fought back with three goals from Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Nani.
Marouane Fellaini pulled one back for Everton on 67 minutes but Rooney (pictured) made it 4-2 a couple of minutes later with his 33rd goal of the season.
That was that, thought the United faithful, but back came the Toffees with two goals in the last ten minutes from Jelavic and Steven Pienaar. "It was a throwaway, an absolute giveaway," raged Ferguson at the end of the clash. "To give away four goals away at Old Trafford in a game that was so important, I just couldn't believe it. We've given Manchester City the initiative, there's no question about that."
While Ferguson and Mancini must wait anxiously for next week's derby, for Wolves time has finally run out after their 2-0 defeat to City confirmed their relegation from the Premier League. Terry Connor, who replaced Mick McCarthy as manager in February, admitted it had been "a raw day for me, the staff, the players, everyone connected with the club and it will be a tough few days to come."
Pressed to explain how Wolves, who had enjoyed their best start to a season for 13 years and were fourth in the table at one stage, had collapsed so spectacularly, Connor said: "Over 38 games we've proved not good enough to stay in the Premier League."