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City stall United's title bid with successive Old Trafford win

updated 6:58 PM EDT, Mon April 8, 2013
Manchester City players celebrate the opening goal by James Milner (second from left) as they stunned United at Old Trafford
Manchester City players celebrate the opening goal by James Milner (second from left) as they stunned United at Old Trafford
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Manchester City win 2-1 at home of great rivals after goals from James Milner and Sergio Aguero
  • Victory means City have won successive league games at Manchester United for first time in 41 years
  • In Italy, drawn Rome derby is overshadowed by stabbing of two Roma fans

(CNN) -- Defending champions Manchester City salvaged a large chunk of pride when beating runaway Premier League leaders -- and city rivals -- Manchester United 2-1 to register consecutive wins at Old Trafford for the first time in 41 years.

The game was played on the day that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died at the age of 87, with Premier League officials choosing not to hold a minute's silence in her honor.

After a difficult season in which they failed to build upon their first title since 1968, City will treasure a victory, with strikes from James Milner and Sergio Aguero either side of a Vincent Kompany own goal, that will make coach Roberto Mancini sleep a little easier.

"I think we showed we don't deserve to stay 15 points behind," the Italian told Sky Sports after the game. "They have had more consistency in this championship because they won more games.

"Instead we lost points when we probably deserved to win. We showed we deserved to stay closer to the title but it is finished."

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The Italian had claimed before the game that United were no better than his side, even if he did concede that they will deserve their title when it arrives, and will feel that the win justified his comments.

However, he may still have to appease some fans after saying that his failure to land his top five transfer targets before the season - including United's very own Robin van Persie, Chelsea's Eden Hazard, Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Lazio's Daniele De Rossi and Daniel Agger of Liverpool - had cost his team its chance of glory this year.

The defeat means that the earliest United, whose lead at the top was reduced to 12 points by second-placed City, can wrap up the title is Monday 22 April, when Alex Ferguson's men host Aston Villa.

Having been crushed 6-1 at home by their long-standing rivals last season, United had been expected to not only avenge that humiliation but also confirm with a convincing display that the balance of power had definitively shifted back in their favor.

Prior to the game, former United defender Gary Neville had told United Review media that City's handsome derby victory and dramatic title had led to erroneous claims in the media.

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"Reports of [a power shift] misunderstood Manchester United," said the former full back.

"Here is a manager and players who don't understand phrases like 'power shift'. They just make them more determined to ram such phrases back down people's throats."

Disregarding Monday night's disappointment, United -- who can no longer break the 100-point barrier -- certainly have shown an emphatic desire to reclaim a title they have already won 19 times.

In fact, there is a direct parallel with two other major European leagues where traditionally dominant powers have rebounded from league failures to reclaim the title in convincing fashion.

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On Saturday, Bayern Munich -- who were pipped to the German championship by Borussia Dortmund last year -- beat Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0 to mark the earliest clinching of the league title in Bundesliga history, 20 points clear with six games still left to play.

In Spain, Real Madrid hit the magical 100-point mark when beating great rivals Barcelona to the 2011-2012 title -- a failure which has focused the latter to such extent that they lead La Liga by 13 points with eight rounds left.

With Montpellier way off the pace in the French league, the only one of the top five European leagues where the champion looks set to defend their trophy is in Italy, where Juventus boast a nine-point lead with seven games to go.

Monday night's anticipated Rome derby was overshadowed by pre-match violence, with two Roma supporters stabbed -- an incident which prompted Rome's mayor to make a public appeal for calm.

On the pitch, Brazilian Hernanes gave Lazio an early lead prior to missing a penalty in the second half, with Roma legend Francesco Totti making no mistake from 12 yards when handed a spot-kick of his own.

Despite the dismissal of Lazio's Giuseppe Bavia with 21 minutes to go, seventh-placed Roma could not find a winner that would have moved them above their city rivals into fifth place in Serie A.

Reflecting on a calmer derby in England, victorious Manchester City captain Kompany feels that his side's victory could play a pivotal role in the race for next season's English championship.

"A derby is always a special game for us and to be able to win is massive," said the Belgian. "I do believe the way we finish this season will have an impact on how we do next season.

"This is a good win to have under our belt and we will take it into the next season."

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