Manchester United had already beaten City 4-3 at home in the league and knocked them out of the League Cup ahead of derby day at Wastelands. Still, their club was still aspiring to finish in the top four and their fans actually believed it was going to happen. They showed up with their ‘see you in the Champions League’ banners and were so certain of a win against United.
It was business as usual where United were concerned though, outplaying the blues on their own turf before popping up with an injury time winner.
Neville has reflected on that day.
“There was a lot riding on that game in the week leading up to it,” said Neville. “You could tell at the start of the game that it was carnival time for them. There was a feeling around the place that it was their day, that they were going to win, that they were going to get fourth place and we were going to end up losing the championship. What they weren’t reckoning on was that they were playing United, and it doesn’t quite happen that way. They were up against 11 players who were determined to make sure we won the game. Paul Scholes was outstanding on the day and for him to pop up with the winner was unbelievable. For me, it was the outstanding moment of the season. We knew we were out of the league if we didn’t win the game. We were the ones trying to win the game, whereas City were bringing defensive midfielders on for forwards. Three times we’ve shown them that we go to the last second of every match. The mentality of the team is always to try to win every match, so late winners aren’t luck. We got the break we needed with a great cross and a great header. It’s the hardest way to win, of course, but the best way. If you can score in the last minute, there’s no comeback – they just don’t have the time.”