Steve Tongue: Rooney's spectacular bicycle kick decides Manchester derby and is unquestionably goal of the season.
For United's manager there may have been an element of relief too, after deciding to play Rooney as his lone striker despite a modest run of form for club and country. Even then it was necessary to send on Dimitar Berbatov to reinforce the attack after David Silva's deflection gave City a deserved equaliser to Nani's opening goal.
"I've not seen anything like that," Ferguson said. "It was absolutely stunning. Unbelievable. Rooney once hit a volley against Newcastle here, but in terms of excitement you've never seen that. Nani's goal was fantastic but it will be completely forgotten."
It was only Rooney's fifth League goal of the season but he felt it was his best-ever. "I was just trying to keep my eye on the ball," he said. "Nine out of 10 times they go over the bar or wide but today it went in. I think it's my first [like that] since I started playing professional football so I'm delighted. After dropping three points last week it was important to keep the gap between [us] and City. We owed it to the fans." United's lead over their neighbours is now eight points with a game in hand. But Arsenal remain four points behind after succeeding where United failed last Saturday by beating Wolves 2-0.
Ferguson said in his programme notes that United's interest in one player last month had been "put away until the summer" and it is believed that he may again seek to sign Ashley Young from Aston Villa for £15m.
He has been monitored by United all season and – the replacement for Edwin van der Sar aside – remains the leading target. Liverpool's owner John W Henry had a discussion with Villa's Randy Lerner on the subject last month but the club have been reluctant to let him go. The 25-year-old forward's contract expires in June 2012 and he has so far rejected Villa's attempts to extend his deal.