By Ewan Roberts, Goal.com
Manchester City ensured rival Manchester United would have to wait a little longer to claim the Premier League title as the visitors claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win at Old Trafford, though remain 12 points behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
City took the lead through James Milner, whose powerful shot wormed its way past David De Gea, before a Vincent Kompany own goal restored the equilibrium just minutes later.
But it was the away side which struck the decisive, final blow through substitute Sergio Aguero, whose viscous near-post shot rocketed into the top corner to guarantee victory for Roberto Mancini’s team.
Wayne Rooney returned in attack for the Red Devils, partnering Robin van Persie up front, while Jones was picked in defense. Veteran Ryan Giggs was selected to appear in his 37th Manchester derby.
Ex-red Carlos Tevez spearheaded City’s attack with Sergio Aguero only fit enough for a place on the bench, while captain Kompany lined up in the center of defense.
The game started at a frenetic pace, with both sides hurtling forwards and City especially eager to reclaim local pride and spoil the Old Trafford party. The away side’s right flank was particularly dangerous, with Milner fizzing crosses into the box.
But after the frantic early exchanges, the game settled into a calmer, more measured pace. City came closest to opening the scoring, with David Silva collecting Yaya Toure’s crossfield pass, but the Spaniard’s pull-back was thumped clear by Jones.
In a half of few chances, it was adventurous fullback Rafael who had the home side’s best effort. The Brazilian latched onto Van Persie’s flick-on, but his looping, poked finish could only find the outside of Joe Hart’s near post – though the England keeper looked to have it covered.
United began the second half well, with Sir Alex Ferguson geeing up the crowd with a fist-pump, but it was City which struck first, lighting the blue touch paper.
Gareth Barry robbed Giggs in midfield and burst up the left flank, before squaring the ball to Silva on the edge of the box. The Spaniard then teed up Milner, whose powerful effort flicked off Jones and flew into the net to give City a 51st-minute lead.
But the advantage lasted just eight minutes before United had equalized. Van Persie, in the midst of a goal drought, turned provider to send in an inch-perfect cross towards Jones, with the defender heading the ball against Kompany and into the back of the net.
The play dulled somewhat after that goal rush, until substitute Aguero produced a moment of magic. With few options and being pushed further and further away from goal, the Argentine finally unleashed a ferocious shot that thundered into the roof of the net.
United tried to mount a response, with Sir Alex introducing super-sub Chicharito and Patrice Evra heading straight at Hart, but it was in vain as City clung on to claim a morale-boosting win which delays the Red Devils’ wait for a 20th championship crown.
Follow GOAL.COM on Twitter.