Three goals in the space of 16 second-half minutes saw Manchester United come roaring back to take the spoils, thus rubbing Man City of the chance to seal the Premier League title against their rivals.
Indeed, the celebrations have been stowed for the time being after City tasted a league defeat at the Etihad for the first time in 16 months – despite a home victory looking inevitable at half-time.
Rejigged after Wednesday’s embarrassing performance against Liverpool in the Champions League, Pep Guardiola’s team came flying out of the traps and overwhelmed United for the majority of the first 45 minutes.
Vincent Kompany powered City into a 25th-minute lead when the Belgian captain thumped a header past David De Gea while towing Chris Smalling along with him as he stampeded onto Leroy Sane’s corner kick.
Ikay Gundogan then put City two up just five minutes later, pouncing on an under-hit clearance from De Gea and then beating the United goalkeeper with a toe-poke after reducing Nemanja Matic to putty with a neat pivot…
With Guardiola opting for a striker-less starting XI, Raheem Sterling found himself as City’s central attacking focal point but the flimsy forward spurned a number of good chances after being played through on goal.
After looking well and truly out of it at the break, United obviously spent the interval in a state of deep introspection and whatever deity was prayed to certainly answered the call.
With Jose Mourinho’s mob suddenly on the front foot for the first time and looking like an entirely different team, Paul Pogba went marauding deep into enemy territory twice in as many minutes to level the score at 2-2 in the blink of an eye…
Nothing like a bit of timely catharsis after a month or two of constant criticism from all and sundry.
The decisive goal came in the 69th minute when Chris Smalling popped up to become the unlikely match-winner – the centre-half beating City’s offside line to volley Alexis Sanchez’s deep freekick past Ederson from point-blank range…
Unbelievable. We honestly didn’t think United had it in ’em.
Fair bloody play. That’s how you poop a party.
And so, as the match came to an end with Guardiola deploying Kompany as a makeshift target man in the David James mould, United held firm.
On the very day that Pep’s old side Bayern Munich mathematically clinched the Bundesliga title, his current team were unable to match the feat.
Still, City do still have a 13-point cushion with six matches left so it’s basically still just a matter of when, but all that mattered to United today was ruining their rival’s narrative arch – and that they jolly well did.