Northern Quarters: Four Maine Road Manchester derby games we still talk about

From thunderous thrashings to captivating comebacks and dramatic draws, the Manchester derby has provided plenty of entertainment down the years...

Matthew Crist

Battles between United and City don’t always provide the greatest quality due to their blood and thunder nature; but nobody cares about the quality of football come derby day. 

And that’s why, over the decades, this fixture has thrown up some fascinating and thrilling encounters which Reds and Blues can both look back on with an equal measure of delight and despair.

So from thunderous thrashings to captivating comebacks and dramatic draws, here are just some of the more memorable matches played between Manchester United, at the home of Manchester City, which fans of both still talk about today, for better or for worse.

Manchester City 3 Manchester United 3, November 1971


Like now, November 1971 saw Manchester United very much in transition with Manager Matt Busby, who had taken his side to European Cup glory at Wembley just three years earlier, leaving the club while the trio of Bell, Lee and Summebee were keeping the City faithful entertained almost on a weekly basis.

After debutante Sammy McIlroy put them ahead United found themselves 2-0 to the good, when Brian Kidd slotted home early in the second half, but things were to turn on a contentious decision as when referee Ray Tinkler decided Franny Lee was fouled in the box and pointed to the spot for a penalty which Lee himself duly converted.

And within minutes the hosts were level when Colin Bell rounded Stepney with ease, only for a dramatic sequence of events in the closing stages, as United who once again took the lead thanks to a wildly deflected McIlroy effort, only for City to profit from a Stepney mistake with Mike Summerbee cracking home the equalizer with five minutes left.

Manchester City 5 Manchester United 1, September 1989


United were struggling to find their feet under Alex Ferguson’s reign in the early stages of a season that would eventually see them battling relegation when they were on the receiving end of a sound thrashing at Maine Road that would live long in the memory for both sets of supporters.

A mistake from Gary Pallister allowed David Oldfield to score the first, before Trevor Morley capitalised on some even more calamitous defending. The Reds were 3-0 down by the time Mark Hughes’ brilliant scissor kick provided brief hope. But the comeback was short lived.

Oldfield grabbed his second of the game to restore City’s three-goal lead before left-back Andy Hinchcliffe capped a glorious City move with a thundering header at the back post before celebrating in front of the massed United ranks.

Manchester City 3 Manchester United 3, October 1990


Keen to avenge their 5-1 hiding just over 12 months previously, Alex Ferguson’s improving side headed to Maine Road to face a City side who were now managed by Howard Kendall.

But David White’s quick-fire five minute brace handed City the ideal start as United fans began to fear the worst yet again, before Mark Hughes provided the reply, heading home to give United hope. However, Kendall’s men appeared to be home and dry with 12 minutes remaining when Colin Hendry’s galloping run resulted in what many thought was the decisive third goal.

But with time running out substitute Ian Brightwell gave the ball away to Brian McClair, who needed no second invitation to pull United right back into the match and just two minutes later McClair grabbed another, flicking home Steve Bruce’s powerful header from a corner to make it 3-3 in front of the delerious United fans.

Manchester City 2 Manchester United 3, November 1993


It all looked to be going to plan for City when Niall Quinn headed Brian Horton’s men into a two goal lead before half time as United battled to retain their Premiere League title in November 1993.

But Michel Vonk’s wayward back header was pounced upon by Eric Cantona to halve the deficit before the Frenchman made it 2-2  on 78 minutes, slotting home a perfectly weighted through ball from Ryan Giggs. And with just three minutes left a young Roy Keane, who never stopped running that day, smashed home the winner in his first Manchester derby.

Earlier in the day City fans had taunted their red rivals for giving up a two goal lead to go out of the European Cup to Galatasaray a few days earlier. Needless to say, victory had never been so sweet for the thousands of United fans stood on the Kipppax and scattered around Main Road that afternoon.

Manchester City vs Manchester United
Saturday, December 7th
17:30 kick off
Sky Sports

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