MANCHESTER City last night apologised to Rio Ferdinand and condemned the home supporter who marred a thrilling top of the table derby by throwing a coin at the Manchester United defender.
Robin van Persie’s stoppage-time free-kick extended United’s Premier League lead to six points after Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta cancelled out Rooney’s first-half double and put City on course for a point.
But post-match talk centred on the reaction of City fans to United’s winner, with one hitting Ferdinand with a missile and another invading the pitch before being intercepted by home goalkeeper Joe Hart.
“It was disappointing when the supporter ran on the pitch and Rio got hit in the eye by a coin,” said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. “The game didn’t deserve that.”
City offered their “sincere apologies” to Ferdinand in a statement and pledged to help police identify the culprits, adding: “The club unreservedly condemns the actions which led to his being injured.”
Van Persie’s strike, which nicked off former Arsenal colleague Samir Nasri, ended City’s two-year unbeaten league run at home, after they looked to have salvaged a draw.
United seemed likely to sweep past their neighbours when Ashley Young’s run set up Rooney to fire through the legs of Gareth Barry and into Hart’s bottom-right corner in the 16th minute. City suffered a blow when captain Vincent Kompany limped off, and Rooney compounded it with his second on 29 minutes from right-back Rafael’s low cross.
United appeared to have a third on the hour when Young tapped in after Van Persie hit a post, but offside was given and City rode their luck to the other end, where David de Gea was beaten at the third attempt by Toure.
Momentum swung City’s way and Zabaleta thought he had earned a point four minutes from time when he drilled through the crowd, but Van Persie would have the last word.