(CNN) -- Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson hailed his side's rollercoaster 4-3 victory over neighbors Manchester City at Old Trafford as the "best derby of all time."
Ferguson and substitute Gary Neville celebrate Owen's late winner.
Ferguson made the claim while ruing his side's sloppy defensive play which allowed City to claim three equalizing goals before Michael Owen's clinical winner deep into injury time on Sunday.
"It could have been an embarrassment, 6-0 or 7-0, if we defended our proper way," claimed the legendary Scot.
"We could have won by a big score but by making mistakes, which was the essence of the game, we probably were in the best derby game of all time.
"What do you choose? Win the best derby game of all time or win 6-0? I'd probably pick 6-0." Was this the greatest derby ever?
The build-up to the match had been marked by a war of words between Ferguson and City manager Mark Hughes, who has been handed a massive transfer budget by his side's Abu Dhabi owners.
Ferguson had branded them "cocky" and did little to dampen down the rivalry with his post match comments.
"Sometimes you have a noisy neighbor. You cannot do anything about that. They will always be noisy," he said.
"You just have to get on with your life, put your television on and turn it up a bit louder.
"Today the players showed their form. That is the best answer of all."
By contrast, City manager Mark Hughes was furious with referee Martin Atkinson for the amount of added time played, with Owen scoring in the 96th minute.
"We need an explanation because I don't know why the referee has added that amount of time on," said Hughes.
"We just feel a little bit aggrieved that they were given that time."
It was a heartbreaking finale for his team with Bellamy's magnificent second goal after a mistake by Rio Ferdinand appearing to give his up and coming side a share of the spoils.
"We're disappointed, we put in a hell of a shift today," said Hughes. "Craig Bellamy scored two magnificent goals. He didn't deserve to be on the losing side," added Hughes.
Ferguson, who has used free transfer signing Owen sparingly this season, said the England striker showed his true quality.
"His positional play, first touch and finish were absolutely superb. World class."
The victory took United to second place in the English Premier League behind pacesetting Chelsea with City suffering their first defeat of the season.