United’s players looked despondent walking back to the centre circle but within eight minutes the Reds had levelled and the game’s complexion appeared to alter. Referee Dean awarded a free-kick on the right flank for Yaya Toure’s challenge on Rafael and van Persie’s incisive, inviting centre was bundled over the line as Jones challenged Kompany in the air. Jones, inexplicably given his undoubted potential, is the butt of City fans’ transfer triumphalism and his celebrations – and performance in general – hinted at someone who feels he has a point to prove. He doesn't, but his display was noteworthy even if the goal is certain to be marked down as Kompany's.
The goal lifted the Old Trafford crowd and inspired a confident, more positive approach from Sir Alex’s team, but just as United seemed to be taking assertive control of the match, City struck again on 78 minutes when substitute Aguero evaded four red shirts and beat De Gea at his near post with a shot high into the roof of the net.
United could not conjure a response as had been the case after City first found the net, and even now with a 12-point advantage over the Blues there is still hard work to be done to deliver title number 20. However, this setback - a first league defeat since November - should galvanise the Reds to strive to finish the job.