MANCHESTER: Manchester City seized control of the Premier League title race here early this morning after Vincent Kompany's first-half header powered them to a 1-0 win over bitter rivals Manchester United.
Kompany headed home from a corner on the stroke of half-time to settle a highly-charged title duel at Eastlands which saw City go top of the table by virtue of their superior goal difference.
The victory means that wins over Newcastle and Queens Park Rangers in their remaining games will almost certainly see City claim their first league crown in 44 years while United would finish the season without a trophy.
The win also capped a remarkable comeback in the league race by City, who appeared to have blown their title chances in early April after falling eight points behind United.
Kompany's winner settled an at times ill-tempered duel which in terms of quality failed to live up to its pre-match hype.
The pressure-cooker nature of the occasion was reflected by an ugly touchline bust-up involving United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and his City counterpart Roberto Mancini on 76 minutes.
A visibly enraged Ferguson had to be restrained from confronting Mancini after the Italian had marched into the technical area to complain after Nigel De Jong was booked for a cynical challenge on Danny Welbeck.
A scrappy first half saw City dominate possession and territory but struggle to create clear chances against a United side who had flooded midfield with five men, leaving Wayne Rooney as the lone striker.
The home side were also given a huge scare after only two minutes, when Michael Carrick's shot from inside the area was blocked to safety by Kompany.
That early scare aside it was largely all City, although United's defence were rarely troubled as the home side struggled to find their passing rhythm.