|Rooney was set up by Nani for a sublime strike that will be a contender for goal of the season [GALLO/GETTY]
Wayne Rooney scored with a stunning overhead volley to give Manchester United a 2-1 win over Manchester City and a seven-point league in the English Premier League, before Arsenal once more reduced the gap with a 2-0 home win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Portuguese midfielder Nani brought the Manchester derby to life five minutes before half time in Saturday's early kickoff at Old Trafford.
But a shot from Edin Dzeko that deflected off David Silva looked to have given title-chasing City a share of the points until Rooney scored a contender for goal of the season from Nani's cross.
The England striker leapt from the penalty spot to wrap his right foot round the ball, sending it into the top corner as keeper Joe Hart remained rooted to his line.
Asked if it was the best goal he'd ever scored, Rooney told Sky Sports: "Yeah, I think so. I just thought 'why not?' and tried it. You don't have time to think about it."
Rooney's 78th-minute volley shattered City, who had looked more than capable of a rare victory at Old Trafford.
The result gave United 57 points from 26 games while second-placed Arsenal have 53 after beating Wolves with two goals from Robin van Persie.
City's title prospects are receding as they are now eight points behind the leaders having played a game more.
City began the match in confident fashion and Silva should have scored in the opening minutes when he prodded a good chance fractionally wide of the post.
United struggled to gain a foothold with Rooney a frustrated figure although they did threaten when Darren Fletcher met a cross from Ryan Giggs and his header was saved by Joe Hart.
City were still the better side when they suffered a body blow four minutes before half time.
Giggs played a first-time pass to Nani and the Portugal winger's exquisite first touch took him clear of the lumbering Pablo Zabaleta before he calmly slid the ball past Hart.
It was tough on Roberto Mancini's side who showed far more verve than they did in the home 0-0 draw with United in November.
Mancini sent on 30 million pounds $48.14 million striker Edin Dzeko with half an hour remaining.
Almost immediately Dzeko made an impact when his shot from fellow substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips's low cross deflected off Silva's back and past helpless keeper Edwin van der Sar.
A City victory looked possible but Rooney left them empty-handed with a goal of stunning quality that will rank as one of the best seen in a Manchester derby.
Liverpool's surge up the table was slowed as they drew 1-1 at home to Wigan Athletic, who found their attempts to get out of the relegation zone hampered by a late winner as Birmingham beat Stoke 1-0.
West Bromwich Albion raced into a three-goal lead over second-bottom West Ham United before the Hammers came back to draw 3-3, while fellow strugglers Blackpool drew 1-1 at home to Aston Villa to end their losing streak.
Blackburn Rovers drew 0-0 at home to Newcastle United ahead of the evening kickoff between Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur.
Tottenham moved above Chelsea into fourth spot with 47 points from 26 after Croatia midfielder Niko Kranjcar struck the winner for the second successive week in a 2-1 win.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies