Robin van Persie curled in an injury time winner for a 3-2 Manchester United victory to thwart a resilient City comeback in another enthralling Manchester derby.

Wayne Rooney had given United a 2-0 lead at the interval lead before Ashley Young had a goal erroneously disallowed for offside. One minute later Yaya Toure hit back for the hosts and Pablo Zabaleta arrowed in an equaliser with five minutes remaining.

But Van Persie's free-kick - via a deflection from the cowardly Samir Nasri - decided the encounter, sparking hysteria in the away end behind Joe Hart's goal.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart (left) holds back a angry fan

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    A steward comes to assist as Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart (left) holds back a angry fan

  • Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Joe Hart of Manchester City confronts a pitch invader during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

  • Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Joe Hart of Manchester City clears the ball under pressure from Ashley Young of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-MAN UTD

    Manchester United's English midfielder Ashley Young (L) vies with Manchester City's English goalkeeper Joe Hart (R) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at The Etihad stadium in Manchester, north-west England on December 9, 2012. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-MAN UTD

    Manchester United's English defender Rio Ferdinand picks up a coin after being struck by an object thrown from the crowd during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at The Etihad stadium in Manchester, north-west England on December 9, 2012. Manchester United won the game 3-2. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-MAN UTD

    Manchester United's English defender Rio Ferdinand reacts after being struck by an object thrown from the crowd during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at The Etihad stadium in Manchester, north-west England on December 9, 2012. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-MAN UTD

    Manchester United's English defender Rio Ferdinand (R) picks up a coin after being struck by an object thrown from the crowd during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at The Etihad stadium in Manchester, north-west England on December 9, 2012. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United reacts after being struck by an object thrown from the crowd during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-MAN UTD

    Manchester United's English defender Rio Ferdinand reacts after being struck by an object thrown from the crowd during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at The Etihad stadium in Manchester, north-west England on December 9, 2012. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United reacts after being struck by an object thrown from the crowd during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-MAN UTD

    Manchester United's English defender Rio Ferdinand is helped by Manchester City's English goalkeeper Joe Hart (L) after being hit by an object thrown from the crowd during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at The Etihad stadium in Manchester, north-west England on December 9, 2012. Manchester United won the game 3-2. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • CORRECTION-FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-MAN UTD

    ADDING INFORMATION Manchester United's players including Danny Wellbeck (C) celebrate Dutch striker Robin Van Persie's (L) late winning goal as English defender Rio Ferdinand (R) holds his head after being struck by an object thrown from the crowd with coins littering the pitch and a steward removing a smoke bomb during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at The Etihad stadium in Manchester, north-west England on December 9, 2012. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United celebrates with team-mate Ashley Young (L) at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-MAN UTD

    Manchester United's English defender Rio Ferdinand is helped from the pitch after being struck by an object thrown from the crowd during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at The Etihad stadium in Manchester, north-west England on December 9, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ANDREW YATES RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo credit should read ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United reacts after being struck by an object thrown from the crowd during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

  • Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Joe Hart of Manchester City confronts a pitch invader during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

  • Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United is helped by team-mate Danny Welbeck (L) after being struck by an object during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

  • Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United reacts after being struck by an object thrown from the crowd during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    A steward comes to assist as Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart (left) holds back a angry fan

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester United's Robin van Persie (right) scores his teams third goal of the game

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart holds back a fan as he goes towards Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand (left) who was struck by an object thrown from the crowd

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (centre) celebrates scoring his teams first goal of the game with teammates Robin van Persie (above) and Ashley Young (left)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-MAN UTD

    Manchester City flags for supporters are seen attached to seats before the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at The Etihad stadium in Manchester, north-west England on December 9, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ANDREW YATES RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo credit should read ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: A Manchester City fan takes his seat early prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Actor Tom Cruise speaks with fans pitchside before kick-off

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Actor Tom Cruise signs autographs for fans pitchside before kick-off

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Actor Tom Cruise pitchside before kick-off

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Actor Tom Cruise pitchside before kick-off

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Actor Tom Cruise pitchside before kick-off

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    (left to right) Actors Robert Duvall and Tom Cruise pitchside before kick-off

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    (left to right) Actors Robert Duvall and Tom Cruise pitchside before kick-off

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Actor Tom Cruise pitchside before kick-off

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    (left to right) Actors Robert Duvall and Tom Cruise with Sky Sports correspondant Geoff Shreeves pitchside before kick-off

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Actor Tom Cruise pitchside before kick-off

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Actor Robert Duvall and football commentator Geoff Shreeves (left) pitchside before kick-off

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Actor Robert Duvall pitchside before kick-off

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart dejected after Manchester United's Wayne Rooney scores his side's second goal of the game

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester United's Tom Cleverley (above) and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (below) battle for the ball

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (centre) celebrates scoring his teams second goal of the game as Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart (right) lies on the ground dejected

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester United's Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game with teammates as Manchester City's Mario Balotelli (left) stands dejected

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester City's Sergio Aguero on his knees dejected after a missed chance on goal

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester City's Mario Balotelli (left) and Manchester United's Patrice Evra (right) battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (right) celebrates scoring his teams second goal of the game as Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart (left) lies on the ground dejected

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester City's Sergio Aguero on his knees dejected after a missed chance on goal

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (right) and Manchester City's Vincent Kompany (left) battle for the ball

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester City fans in the stands

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester City's Vincent Kompany (right) has to be substituted early in the match for teammate Kolo Toure (left)

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester United's Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (centre) celebrates scoring his teams first goal of the game with teammates Robin van Persie (above) and Ashley Young (left)

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium

    Manchester City fans gesture angrily towards Manchester United's Wayne Rooney as he celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game

Rio Ferdinand was struck by a missile and was left bleeding during the celebrations, but played out the final two minutes as United defended their lead.

The victory ends City's unbeaten run this season and is their first defeat in the Premier League since December 2010 while United now lie 10 points clear of their rivals.