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Manchester City V Manchester United Premier League Title Showdown Build-Up: Reds 4-2 Blues, 2004 (VIDEO)

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VAN NISTELROOY
Ruud van Nistelrooy wheels away in delight having made it 4-1 to United | PA

In December 2003, Manchester United went some way to redeeming themselves for their previous campaign's displays against Manchester City when they beat the Blues 3-1 at Old Trafford.

In 2002/03, City, back in the Premier League after a season in Division One following their 2001 relegation under Joe Royle, took four points off the Reds, beginning with The 3-1 in the final Manchester derby at Maine Road.

Fast-forward 13 months and United's swashbuckling display against their neighbours at Old Trafford was a welcome tonic. The previous campaign's fixture at the Theatre of Dreams saw a 1-1 draw as the hosts cautiously defended a slender lead courtesy of Ruud van Nistelrooy's far post finish. Shaun Goater (again) cancelled it out.

In 2003/04, Paul Scholes struck two and Van Nistelrooy got another in the league as United, in the midst of a fruitful spell of football which thrived with Brazilian Kleberson playing in-the-hole behind the Dutchman, topped the league over Christmas.

Two months later, the scenario had regressed dramatically. Sir Alex Ferguson was embroiled in his Coolmore lawsuit, Rio Ferdinand's eight-month ban for a missed drugs test had begun and defeats to Wolves and Middlesbrough were the beginning of the end of United's failed title challenge.

A possible fillip came via City's visit in the fifth round of the FA Cup. In the previous round, the 10-men Citizens came from 3-0 down at half-time to win their replay with Tottenham 4-3 at White Hart Lane in one of English football's greatest ever comebacks.

Roses are red and violets are blue, but no one was shrinking when the Mancunian rivals met on Valentine's Day in the cup. This time, City were the beneficiaries of an extra man after Gary Neville headbutted Steve McManaman. Mancs and Scousers, eh?

United were already 1-0 up, courtesy of Scholes' third goal against City that term (he would score four against them in total), but were holding out with 20 minutes to go.

Then 19-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, in one of his first boy-to-man performances, provided a teasing cross which Van Nistelrooy tapped in. Two minutes later it was Ronaldo who pounced to make it 3-0 to the 10 men.

Michael Tarnat smashed in a volley to reduce arrears five minutes later before Van Nistelrooy continued the goal glut with a tap-in almost immediately.

Robbie Fowler's cheeky free-kick saw the score finish at 4-2, as United went on to lift their 11th - and last - FA Cup.

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