Irwin injured as United take derby honours

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The Independent Football

After four seasons in which they have steered wildly diverging courses, Manchester's two clubs came face to face last night.

After four seasons in which they have steered wildly diverging courses, Manchester's two clubs came face to face last night.

In the five years since City came to Old Trafford for a League match, which like this they lost, United have won seven major trophies, while the blue half of Manchester have won only sympathy.

United won this, too, concluding matters at the death with a crisp shot by Andy Cole, who had created the opener.

This, then, was a chance for the taunts to begin in earnest, to look the enemy in the eyes and let out a little local animosity. And although this was Denis Irwin's testimonial, no meeting between these sides could be entirely friendly. Irwin suffered an ankle injury, Phil Neville a gashed face and David Beckham a rush of blood to the head.

The game was reduced to a pure exhibition as Joe Royle substituted virtually his entire team, allowing Old Trafford to dissolve into a whirlpool of opposing chants that when these two sides meet at Maine Road in November will carry an extra edge. When Irwin won the first of his six championships in 1993, Vinnie Jones commented that in years to come he would be the one member of that Manchester United squad nobody would be able to remember. Last night he was not so much remembered as honoured, although he failed to go the distance in his testimonial, taken off five minutes before half-time, suffering the after-effects of a typically committed challenge.

Irwin may have been a roundhead in a team of brilliant cavaliers and his profile may be lower than some - no supermodel wife, no requests to pose for Playboy - but it was not hyperbole for the tannoy announcer to describe him as "one of the legends of Old Trafford".

Sir Alex Ferguson said that persuading Royle, then in charge of Oldham, now managing last night's opponents, to sell him for £650,000 was "arguably the bargain of my career at Old Trafford". Certainly, Irwin has won more medals than any of his other team-mates.

Although the results will be forgotten by all bar the obsessives the minute the season kicks off, neither Manchester club has enjoyed a perfect pre-season and the weekend saw them both beaten, although the 3-1 defeat at Everton in Joe Parkinson's testimonial would have concerned Royle more than the reverse in the Charity Shield would have unsettled Ferguson.

In an engaging, open game, United had the edge, as they usually have done in recent memory, going ahead after 38 minutes as Andy Cole squared for Teddy Sheringham to rifle home. David Beckham, meanwhile, overly fired up for a friendly, indulged in the kind of tackles which, in other circumstances, would have seen him yellow carded.

Manchester United (4-4-2): Van der Gouw, G.Neville, P.Neville, Irwin (Wallwork, 40), Johnsen (Brown 55), Butt, Scholes (Greening, 55), Beckham (Stewart, 55), Fortune, Cole, Sheringham.

Manchester City (3-5-2): Weaver, Edgehill (Dickov, 45), Prior (Whitley, 45), Howey, Tiatto (Mike, 45), Haaland (Crooks, 45), Wiekens, Kennedy (Granville, 45) Grant, Weah (Cooke, 45),Wright-Phillips (Jobson, 45).

Referee: M Dean (The Wirral).

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