Paul Pogba's quick-fire brace and a sumptuous volley by Chris Smalling stunned the bouncing Etihad to its core, as United were on course of completing one of the most breathtaking comebacks of the Premier League era, and that too at the home of the Champions-elect. "Our challenge is to finish second".
United goalkeeper David de Gea demonstrated his world-class ability with a brilliant save from Aguero before the curtain came down on 90 minutes that nearly suspended belief and turned the hope of the home support upside down into despair.
With that game in mind, the Spaniard made a decision to keep Kevin De Bruyne in reserve, the Belgian among a powerful bench that also included the fit-again Aguero.
Two minutes later, United were level.
Jose Mourinho says Manchester United "deserves a bit more respect" after they fought back from two goals down to beat Manchester City and delay their neighbours' Premier League coronation. The visitors were sitting back, allowing the City players to ping the ball around and send in waves after waves of attack.
United's fightback was kickstarted by Paul Pogba silencing his critics after a deeply disappointing season by scoring twice in two minutes just after half-time. Ninety seconds later Pogba had a second, a header of some beauty, as he hung in the air before flicking the ball past the helpless Ederson again. But Owen had other ideas and in the sixth minute of time added on he received a pass from Ryan Giggs and coolly slotted home to claim a thrilling three points.
Sterling hit the post from the resulting corner, but City failed to find a leveller.
For all the inevitability of City's eventual confirmation of their third Premier League title, there was genuine disappointment and frustration from their supporters that it was not achieved with United in opposition.
The goal was nearly identical to the one he scored in a 1-0 win over United in April 2012, which saw City leapfrog their rivals in the table and go on to win the league.
David De Gea's heroics have saved Manchester United on countless occasions, earning him the club's Player of the Season award two seasons in a row.
Mourinho noted that he wasn't pleased with how his side conceded the first goal, but knew he had to keep spirits up after falling behind.
It wasn't a surprise to see that Pogba scored two of the three goals, while the Chilean was the only player to have had a hand in all three goals, assisting two of them.
Manchester United were 10 minutes away from an FA Cup fourth-round defeat to their bitter rivals after Michael Owen's early goal had put the Reds in control.
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