Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City: the day English football's power balance shifted to the blue side of Manchester

It's been exactly 10 years since Manchester City beat Manchester United 6-1 at Old Trafford, an unprecedented result both then and now.

Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City. A scoreline many never thought would come. (Image: Twitter)

There are few rivalries in modern football that are as lopsided as the one between Manchester United and Manchester City. The two clubs reside within the same city but, in terms of glory and stature, the comparison was never close.

United became the dominant force in English football through the 1990s and 2000s. The likes of Arsenal and Chelsea challenged them well, but United’s supremacy was rarely if ever in doubt.

However, all that changed in 2009 when City were bought off by the Abu Dhabi-based Sheikh Mansour. Now, with almost unlimited cash reserves to play with, City fans could dream of getting on the same level as their neighbours.

And that moment arrived in spectacular fashion exactly 10 years ago to this day. A Manchester derby at Old Trafford ended with City winning 6-1. To say it was the shot heard around the world would be an understatement.

It was a result that left everyone shellshocked. Many thought City stood a chance of winning; few expected them to hand out a thrashing of this magnitude.

Yet that is exactly what they did. And while it is hard to pinpoint just one moment when the balance of this rivalry shifted, this was definitely one of those.

Let us now look back at one of the most extraordinary Premier League fixtures in recent history.

The background

Both Manchester United and Manchester City were fighting for the title in the 2011-12 season. United were the defending champions, having seen off a challenge from Chelsea to win the title in 2010-11.

City, meanwhile, were two years into a takeover that promised to make them one of England’s big clubs. And they seemed to be the one side most capable of edging United to the championship.

Going into the match, they were top of the table by two points. Theoretically, a win for United would have taken them back to the top of the league.

And even though City were a strong side, United had every reason to be confident too. As it turns out, any faith in a result was misplaced.

Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City: the scoreline no one saw coming

City led United 1-0 at the break courtesy of a goal from Mario Balotelli; a goal that in itself has gone down in infamy. Balotelli had to call the fire brigade to his house the day before the match due to letting off fireworks in his apartment.

And when he scored the opener, he lifted his jersey to reveal a t-shirt with the words “Why Always Me” emblazoned on it.

But United were in for a second half shock. The moment that began the collapse was when Jonny Evans was sent off. He pulled Balotelli down after the Italian surged past him, meaning a red was inevitable.

Minutes later, City doubled their lead. David Silva, who created the first goal, played in James Milner who in turn found Balotelli in acres of space. A simple tap-in was duly finished.

It was 3-0 in the 69th minute, when Milner played in Micah Richards down the flank. The Englishman’s cross was met by Sergio Aguero, and a hiding seemed on the cards.

United pulled one back courtesy of Darren Fletcher, who rifled home a shot from 20 yards out. But the goal proved to be a false dawn.

The goal prompted United to push further forward in search of another goal. However, when they did, the left plenty of space in behind them to be exploited.

As such, when Edin Dzeko – who came off the bench – scored a fourth from a quick counter-attack, it was of little surprise to anyone.

The fifth goal was scored by Silva before he turned provider once again for Dzeko to round off the win. 6-1 at full time; even the most optimistic of City fans could not have dreamed of this.

The aftermath

Amazingly, this did not signify the end of that year’s title race; that would go all the way down to the wire. Both teams entered the final day of the season knowing they could win the title.

Manchester United thought they did enough but Manchester City pulled off a late comeback against QPR to steal the title. United would win the title in 2012-13; however, it would be United’s last Premier League trophy to this date.

Since that time, City have won four Premier League titles. The power balance has well and truly shifted to the blue side of Manchester.

What makes it even more amusing, in hindsight, is Sir Alex Ferguson’s flippant dismissal of City. Ferguson had famously proclaimed that City would never be a top side “in my lifetime”.

Yet as things stand, United have not won a league title in 8 years and City are the defending champions of England’s top flight. As the old saying goes, life comes at you fast.

Sportslumo Desk

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