London: Wayne Rooney conjured a breathtaking overhead kick to earn Premier League leaders Manchester United a 2-1 victory over Manchester City in a memorable derby on Saturday.
With his back to goal, Rooney struck with an acrobatic volley that flew into the top corner in the 78th minute and shattered third-placed City. Second-placed Arsenal overcame Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 to stay on United`s heels.
Rooney`s winner left manager Alex Ferguson purring in delight and admiration.
"I`ve not seen anything like it, that`s for sure," a beaming Ferguson said.
"It was stunning, unbelievable. We`ve had some fantastic goals here but in terms of the execution, you`ll never see that."
United had taken the lead shortly before halftime with a well-taken Nani effort before David Silva drew the visitors level with a fortuitous goal midway through the second half.
The result gave United 57 points from 26 games with Arsenal on 53 from 26. City`s title prospects are receding as they are eight points behind having played a game more.
Liverpool`s surge slowed as they were held 1-1 by Wigan Athletic at Anfield to stay five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea who face Fulham on Monday.
At the other end of the table West Ham United recovered from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at West Bromwich Albion, Blackpool drew 1-1 with Aston Villa and Birmingham City scored late to earn a vital 1-0 win at home to Stoke City. Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United ended goalless.
Last Saturday`s 41-goal spree in the Premier League was always going to be a tough act to follow but the weekend will be remembered for a moment of Rooney magic that even had rival manager Roberto Mancini describing it as genius.
Facing away from goal on the edge of the area, Rooney sprung into the air and twisted to connect with a Nani cross, the ball arcing off his outstretched right foot beyond City`s dumbfounded England keeper Joe Hart.
It was only his fifth league goal of a disappointing season but a potentially vital to keep United on course for a record 19th title and City`s hopes of a first since 1968 remote.
City, who had managed just one league win at Old Trafford in their previous 26 attempts, began the match in confident fashion and Silva should have scored in the opening minutes when he prodded a good chance fractionally wide of the post after being teed up by the livewire Carlos Tevez.
United, who suffered their first league defeat of the season last week at Wolves, struggled for attacking thrust with Rooney a frustrated figure alone up front with top scorer Dimitar Berbatov on the bench.
City were still the better side when they suffered a body blow four minutes before halftime.
Rooney won an aerial challenge and Giggs played a pass to Portugal winger Nani whose exquisite first touch took him clear of Pablo Zabaleta before he calmly slid the ball past Hart.
It was tough on Roberto Mancini`s side who had shown far more verve than they did in the home 0-0 draw with United in November despite starting with only Tevez as recognised striker.
Mancini sent on 30 million pounds (USD 48.14 million) forward Edin Dzeko with half an hour remaining and he an immediate impact when his instant shot from fellow substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips`s low cross deflected off Silva`s back and past helpless keeper Edwin van der Sar.
A City victory looked possible but Rooney left them empty-handed with a goal of stunning quality that will be the talk of Manchester for weeks to come.