Wayne Rooney struck a sensational 78th overhead volley to give United all three points in a thrilling end to the Manchester Derby.
Manchester United started with Rooney up front on his own, with Alex Ferguson opting to leave Dimitar Berbatov on the bench.
Ferguson went with five in midfield, and his cautious approach favoured city in the early stages as they looked more comfortable on the ball, playing with their familiar formation.
United were limited to long balls and crosses into Wayne Rooney, who was mainly unsuccessful in leading the line on his own for the Premiership leaders.
Manchester City had the better of the possession, and went close when David Silva went through on goal before toe poking his shot just past the post.
The game looked destined to go 0-0 at the break, before a clever ball over the top of the defence played in Nani, who finished calmly past Joe Hart to give United the advantage at half time.
Manchester City started the second half more brightly, and got the equaliser after a stroke of good luck in the 65th minute.
Substitute Shaun Wright Phillips fired a low cross into the box, to which fellow substitute Dzeko fired an attempted shot at goal, only to strike David Silva in the back and hit the back of the net.
City were spurred on by the equaliser, and confidently attacked the United box in search of the winner.
Alex Ferguson took little time to act when he brought on Dimitar Berbatov for the ineffective Anderson in midfield.
City continued to look comfortable on the ball with both teams clearly going for the winner.
Michael Owen could be seen warming up on the sideline, as Ferguson was pondering a possible repeat of his winner in the same fixture last season, before a stroke of genius changed the dynamic of the game in the 78th minute.
Nani fired a cross into the box before the ineffective Wayne Rooney connected with a sensational overhead volley, firing the ball into the top right hand corner, a definite contender for goal of the season.
Ferguson threw Carrick into the mix immediately to defend United’s lead, and although City were stunned by Rooney’s wonder strike, they continued to attack United in search of the equaliser.
United battled hard to hang onto their lead, with Chris Smalling putting in an impressive performance in the heart of their defence.
United are now seven points clear of Arsenal, at the top of the table who are in action against Wolves at 3pm.