|1||Van der Sar|
Amid the Reds' ongoing chase for a fourth straight title, the subplot of City's challenge for local and, ultimately, national supremacy had seemed set to hog the headlines. But Scholes had other ideas and just a day after penning a one-year contract extension, the 35-year-old illustrated his enduring value not only with his winner, but by dictating play in a masterful midfield performance.
Of United's three pre-match injury doubts, two recovered sufficiently to join the starting XI. Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs were both available, but Rio Ferdinand's groin injury prompted a return for Jonny Evans alongside Nemanja Vidic in the centre of defence.
Both sides started the game with evident intent to attack. Darren Fletcher fired a 25-yard effort inches wide of Shay Given's post, with the Irishman well beaten, before Carlos Tevez's top corner free-kick drew a fine full-length catch from Edwin van der Sar.
Despite coming out of their corners swinging, both sides quickly displayed an awareness of the potential cost of failure. United bossed possession by virtue of an extra man in midfield, but refused to overcommit in support of Rooney, while City sat deep, costing themselves the chance to offer quick, accurate service to Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor.