On 12 February 2011, Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City visited Old Trafford. The Blues had won the FA Cup the previous season, and were pushing hard to prove their newfound status as one of Europe’s elite clubs by mounting a genuine title challenge.
Going into the game, United were top of the table, with City trailing Arsenal in third.
In a tight, tense and even affair, Portuguese winger Nani fired United into the lead at the end of the first half, only for City to pull level after 62 minutes thanks to David Silva’s shot taking a lucky deflection off Edin Dzeko’s back.
The game seemed destined for a draw, which, in truth, would have been a pretty fair outcome for both sides; it would have meant the Red Devils stayed clear of Arsenal, while City’s title challenge would have remained firmly intact.
But the home side had other ideas. More specifically, Wayne Rooney had other ideas.
With 12 minutes to play, Nani broke free on the right wing. His cross into the box was deflected high into the air off Pablo Zabaleta’s shoulder.
Recognising that the ball was going to drop behind him, Rooney began to adjust his body position. And, rather than taking a touch and looking to turn, or lay the ball off, the former Everton striker leapt into the air and dispatched the ball into the top corner of Joe Hart’s goal with a spectacular and acrobatic bicycle kick.
It was a goal worthy of winning any game, but it felt particularly fitting that it was the goal that saw off City.