A penalty kick by Ruud van Nistelrooy and a late goal by Wayne Rooney gave Manchester United a 2-0 victory over league-leading Arsenal before a sellout crowd of 67,862 at Old Trafford in Manchester yesterday, ending the Gunners' unbeaten league streak at a record 49 games.
Van Nistelrooy scored after Rooney was brought down in the penalty box by Sol Campbell in the 73rd minute. Three minutes into second-half injury time, Rooney broke in, took a pass from substitute Alan Smith and beat goalkeeper Jens Lehmann with a side-footed shot. The goal came on the English striker's 19th birthday.
"We said this match could kick-start our season," Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand said. "Now we put ourselves in a better position where we can get some confidence throughout the team."
Van Nistelrooy missed an injury-time penalty kick in this match last season. The game ended scoreless, and the penalty prompted a brawl among players after the game.
This time, the Dutch striker made no mistake.
"We are very disappointed because I felt we were the better team," Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger said.
The rematch is Feb. 1 in London.
Arsenal's previous defeat in a league game was a 3-2 loss to Leeds on May 4, 2003. That loss gave the Premier League title to Manchester United.
The brawl last year was the latest development in what has become a stormy rivalry. Manchester United defeated Arsenal, 6-1, en route to the Premier League title in 2001. Arsenal clinched the 2002 title with a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford.
In 2003, Manchester United came back from a large deficit to overtake Arsenal and win the Premier League.
Last year, the Red Devils could not stop Arsenal from becoming the first English team since 1888 to finish without a league loss.
The season prompted the sale of Arsenal T-shirts that read: "You win some, you tie some."
Arsenal leads the league with 25 points this year. The Gunners are followed by Chelsea (23 points), Everton (22) and Bolton (18). Manchester United has 17 points.
Inter, AC Milan Tie
Defending Serie A champion AC Milan played to a 0-0 tie with cross-town Inter Milan in the first big derby of the Italian league season. The game at San Siro was billed as a matchup between two of Serie A's best strikers -- Milan's Andriy Shevchenko and Inter's Adriano. But it was the defenses that shined.
The result left Milan in a tie with surprising Lecce for second place with 14 points, five behind league-leading Juventus.
In Germany, VfB Stuttgart's 13-match unbeaten streak under Coach Matthias Sammer ended with a 2-0 loss to Freiburg, a defeat that prevented Stuttgart from moving into first place.
Stuttgart, which hadn't been beaten in any competition this year including the UEFA Cup, was shocked by a team stuck in the demotion zone that had trouble scrapping together a suitable starting lineup because of injuries.
In Spain, Samuel Eto'o scored twice and Ronaldinho converted a penalty in league leader FC Barcelona's 3-0 win over Osasuna.
The San Jose Earthquakes pressured visiting Kansas City all afternoon and won the first leg of their home-and-away MLS Western Conference semifinal series, 2-0.
Forward Dwayne DeRosario and defender Craig Waibel scored the goals.