New ground will be broken in the annals of English football on Saturday when Manchester United and Manchester City come face-to-face in the FA Cup final (10 a.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+) for the first time in the competition’s 151-year history.
With the Premier League title already in the bag, City have the second leg of a potential domestic and European treble on the line at Wembley. Meanwhile, United will be hoping to clinch a second domestic cup to pair with the 2023 Carabao Cup they lifted in February.
Given the nature of the fixture, the 2023 FA Cup final also marks the first major departure in over a century-and-a-half of rigid protocol, with the FA revealing that the official engravers have been able to begin work in advance this season by etching the word “Manchester” onto the trophy already. Only time will tell whether “United” or “City” will be tagged on after the final whistle.
It may be the first meeting for the two teams in an FA Cup final, but the Manchester derby is a historic rivalry that spans well over 130 years, back to the Victorian era. Indeed, the first competitive Football League clash between the two neighbouring clubs came in November 1894, when United won 5-2 at City’s old Hyde Road ground in the Second Division.
Since then, the two Manchester rivals have met 189 times in men’s competitive fixtures, with United emerging victorious 78 times to City’s 58, along with 53 draws. A total of 535 goals have been scored, with United accounting for 271 and City 264.
Though United and City have met on 22 occasions in domestic cup competitions (including the Community Shield), the two sides have never contested a single cup final before. However, there have been nine cup semifinals contested since their first in 1929, with City winning six to United’s two and there being one draw.
United and City have contested some absolutely thrilling tussles in that time, with local bragging rights swapping hands over and over again. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Mancunian derbies of the modern age (i.e., the Premier League era, from 1992-93 onward.)
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10. Manchester United 1-1 Manchester City, April 2001 (Premier League)
A volatile derby that is remembered for little other than the horrific clash between Roy Keane and Alf-Inge Haaland (father of Erling Haaland) that contributed to the latter being forced into early retirement two years later. The United midfielder was sent off, fined and given a three-game ban, but the real controversy was stirred up a year later. Writing in his autobiography, the Irishman intimated that his violent knee-high stamp on Haaland had been a premeditated act of revenge, although in a subsequent book he insisted he “had no wish to injure him.” There remains no love lost between the pair, and they did not speak despite being just yards away from each other while pitchside at the Etihad last season.
9. Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United, November 1993 (Premier League)
Keano won us the derby at the death in 1993!#MUFC #GoalOfTheDay pic.twitter.com/HW9dksYJAo
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 7, 2019
In a classic derby from the early days of the Premier League, it took spirited contributions from Eric Cantona and Roy Keane to drag United back from the jaws of defeat to rescue all three points at City’s Maine Road. After going in 2-0 down at half-time, Cantona rallied with a brace in the second half before Keane topped off his first Manchester derby with the winning goal.
8. Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United, November 2002 (Premier League)
Cometh the hour, cometh the Goat. Indeed, this derby quite possibly represents Shaun Goater’s finest hour as a City player in what was the final meeting between his side and United at Maine Road. The day began with Gary Neville making a point of snubbing Peter Schmeichel, who returned to the Premier League with City having previously spent many successful years tending the goal for United. However, all interpersonal tension paled as City ended on a fitting win, with Goater scoring twice to seal the points in emphatic style for the home side.
7. Manchester City 6-3 Manchester United, October 2022 (Premier League)
Desperately seeking to regain ground in the title race, City put down a serious marker in the first Manchester derby of the 2022-23 season by systematically drubbing United at the Etihad. Both Phil Foden and Erling Haaland scored hat tricks as the home side ran riot in the highest-scoring entry in derby history. Indeed, City were 6-1 up and cruising in the 84th minute before Anthony Martial added a couple of late consolations.
6. Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City, January 2023 (Premier League)
🔥 In the form of his life.#MUFC || @MarcusRashford
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 15, 2023
City fans weren’t allowed the chance to gloat for too long as United rebounded to win the return fixture in 2022-23, grinding out an impressive 2-1 victory at Old Trafford just a couple of months after being humiliated in unrelenting fashion by their nemesis across town. Erik ten Hag’s side came from a goal down to win thanks to late strikes from Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford.
5. Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United, December 2012 (Premier League)
#OnThisDay in 2012, @Persie_Official made quite the impact in his first Manchester derby… pic.twitter.com/tycjhR4voA
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 9, 2018
Another high-scoring affair saw United race to a two-goal lead over their “noisy neighbours” at the Etihad, with Wayne Rooney getting on the score sheet twice for the visitors inside the first half-hour. Reigning champions City were much improved in the second half and looked to have rescued a draw when Pablo Zabaleta equalised at 2-2 with just four minutes remaining. However, Roberto Mancini’s team made the fatal error of allowing derby debutant Robin van Persie the chance to smash home a direct free kick in the last seconds of stoppage time.
4. Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City, February 2011 (Premier League)
Wayne Rooney decided the Manchester derby with one of the greatest ever #PL goals#OnThisDay in 2011… pic.twitter.com/nxwNDLFVim
— Premier League (@premierleague) February 12, 2019
While the game itself was fairly perfunctory, it will always be remembered for Wayne Rooney’s spectacular winning goal. Level at 1-1 from the 65th minute onward, Rooney rose high to meet Nani’s arching cross with an instinctive overhead-kick volley that arrowed past a bamboozled Joe Hart into the back of the net. Rooney remains the highest-scoring player in Manchester derby history with 11 goals to his name, his volley against City being the sixth addition to his collection.
3. Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United, April 2018 (Premier League)
⚽️ Kompany 25′
⚽️ Gundogan 30′
⚽️ Pogba 53′
⚽️ Pogba 55′
⚽️ Smalling 69′#OnThisDay in 2018, @ManUtd completed a stunning comeback against their fierce rivals pic.twitter.com/smqNBvzUuw
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 7, 2021
City were runaway leaders at the top of the table when United made the short trip to the Etihad toward the end of the 2017-18 season. Thirteen points clear heading into the game, Pep Guardiola’s side knew that a win in the derby would be enough to mathematically sew up the championship. In fact, it looked to be a formality as City went in 2-0 up at the break amid cacophonous chants of “Campeones” from the home support. However, United had other plans, and a quick-fire brace from Paul Pogba allied with an unlikely winner from Chris Smalling saw Jose Mourinho’s resurgent team roar back from the brink to quash the celebrations, if only temporarily.
2. Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City, October 2011 (Premier League)
The first Manchester derby of the 2011-12 season saw City come flying out of the traps to absolutely destroy their foes on home soil. Mario Balotelli scored twice (including an impudent tap-in with his shoulder) as City shocked United by recording their joint-largest win in derby history and their heaviest victory at Old Trafford since 1955.
1. Manchester United 4-3 Manchester City, September 2009 (Premier League)
A classic #MUFC v City clash from 2009…
*This* is how you win a derby! pic.twitter.com/xLHAiUajY5
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 9, 2017
With City spending big over the summer and the Mancunian power balance tangibly beginning to shift in their favour, the two sides were level on points when they met early on in the 2009-10 campaign. The result was a tense, scintillating game of football that produced seven goals all capped off by a 96th-minute winner from former Liverpool star Michael Owen, signed by United as an unpopular replacement for Carlos Tevez, who had controversially ditched the club in order to sign for City just months earlier.