The biggest compliment you can pay Manchester City is that they are picking up good habits from their more famous rivals over at United – and Sergio Aguero’s stoppage time winner in the Champions League against Villareal is one of the most precious goals he will score all season.

Instead of settling for the paltry return of two points from their opening three Group matches, City crucially ended the night on four points and with qualification to the knockout stages back in their grasp courtesy of their dramatic 2-1 win.

Neither Manchester club was at their best, as United needed second half penalties from Wayne Rooney to see off Otelul Galati in Romania and claim an equally precious 2-0 triumph that puts the Reds in second place behind Benfica in Group C.

But this was only the starter in a week where the main course is reserved for Sunday lunchtime at Old Trafford.

For both clubs there is the feeling that tonight was the lull before the storm as the countdown begins to the most intriguing Manchester derby in years. With City holding a two point advantage, the battle between the Premier League’s top two is the most eagerly awaited match of the season so far at a time when the Mancunian rivalry grows more intense with every meeting.

Whatever the outcome, it will tell us a lot about how the season is destined to unfold – and whether or not City have made any progress since being brushed aside 3-2 by United in the pre-season Community Shield at Wembley.

– BY JOHN GUBBA

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