Sir Alex Ferguson has said the Manchester derby on April 30 at the Etihad Stadium will decide the outcome of the Premier League title race.
The game’s longest-serving manager was speaking after seeing his side twice surrender a two-goal cushion to settle for a 4-4 draw against Everton at Old Trafford.
Just hours later local rivals and nearest challengers Manchester City closed the gap on leaders United to three points by beating Wolves 2-0 at Molineux to relegate Terry Connor’s men to the Championship. If Roberto Mancini’s side beat the reigning champions next Monday, they will go top on goal difference with two games remaining.
The point overshadowed Wayne Rooney moving to fourth on United’s all-time goalscorer’s list ahead of George Best and Dennis Viollet.
Ferguson described Everton’s goals as “really soft” and “a real shock” but admitted poor defending had swung the game.
Everton began the game as vast outsiders in the soccer betting tips given they had not won at Old Trafford since 1992 and were going into the game on the back of a defeat to Mersey rivals Liverpool at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final the previous Saturday.
However, they took the lead through Nikica Jelavic in the first half only for United to storm into a 3-1 lead thanks to Danny Welbeck and a Wayne Rooney brace early in the second period.
Marouane Fellaini reduced the arrears once more only for Nani to put United in a commanding 4-2 lead, with the live soccer betting given David Moyes’ men little chance.
However, with the title in their grasp the Toffees shocked Old Trafford with two goals in the final ten minutes though Jelavic and Steven Pienaar.
The emphasis is now on United to avenge for a 6-1 horror show against City in October last year and remain on course for a record 20th domestic title.
“Yes, definitely,” said Ferguson, when asked if it was the most important derby during his reign at Old Trafford.
“We’ve given them the initiative, there is no doubt about that.
“It makes the game at the Etihad a really important game. A decider really.
“There has been an expectancy from City that it could be their decider, but it’s our decider too.”