Manchester United ended Manchester City’s winning streak of 21 games after upsetting the Premier League leaders 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium in the City of Manchester.
City were unbeaten in 28 games including 21 consecutive victories before losing to their neighbours that saw United closing the 14-point gap before the game to 11 in their quest to stay 2nd in the league.
The race for the top 4 is heating up with realistically, only 3 of the 4 spots up for grabs as City have some daylight being 11 points in front of 2nd placed Manchester United. Leicester City are on United’s heels, just 1 point behind in 3rd followed by Chelsea who 6 points behind the Foxes but do have a game in hand.
Everton, who currently sit in 5th have 2 games in hand and can go within 1 point of Leicester by winning both those games but they face Chelsea next in what becomes a clash for creating some daylight in the race for the Champions League places.
United’s poor recent run of performances before the Derby
The Manchester Derby has always produced some thrills and history suggests that no matter how strong a team City has fielded, their more decorated and successful neighbours just find a way to come out on top in the league.
It was no different on Sunday as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer became the first manager to win 3 consecutive away games in the Manchester derby and the first one to beat Pep Guardiola 3 times in succession as well away from home.
Manchester United were coming into this one having failed to score in 3 games as they drew 0-0 on all occasions.
They secured a draw in the Europa League 2nd leg against Real Sociedad after having almost guaranteed qualification in the 1st leg itself with a 4-0 away victory.
The Red Devils followed that up with a 0-0 game against Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea who remain unbeaten under the German manager who will have a tough task against Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton as they aim to keep this going in their pursuit for securing a spot in next season’s Champions League.
United were held to a frustrating draw against Crystal Palace as they failed to break down a resolute Eagles side that Roy Hodgson put out in South London.
Solskjaer was not too worried and was pleased with the defense in the last 3 games. Prior to these games, United were the highest-scoring side in the league with only City overtaking them over the course of the last few games.
The 20-time English league champions made sure to rectify that in the City of Manchester Stadium.
Manchester is Red
Manchester United had Edinson Cavani out with an injury, which meant Anthony Martial was assigned the number 9 role for the team and after a run of poor performances, he was immense in the derby game.
It took Martial just 33 seconds to have an impact as he skillfully skipped across the defence and was brought down by Gabriel Jesus just inside City’s box to win a penalty for his side in the first minute of the game.
Bruno Fernandes stepped up to take it and he made no mistake as he hit the ball hard and low towards Ederson’s right, which the Brazilian goalkeeper could only get a hand to but not deflect away.
United had a dream start to the game as this goal saw City trailing in a game for the first time in months!
The Devils were not happy with just sitting on their lead as City’s Joao Cancelo was pressed as he tried to dribble the ball out of his own penalty box that Luke Shaw won back. He had a crack but the right-footed shot went straight to Ederson inside 4 minutes.
City did not manage to create any clear-cut chances to test Man United goalkeeper Dean Henderson but there were several crosses that were put in dangerously into the 6-yard box that City players just failed to get at the end of.
Kevin de Bruyne was practically absent in the game as he was shut down brilliantly by the midfield duo of Scott McTominay and Fred.
Riyad Mahrez looked lively and City’s biggest threat as he picked out some wonderful crosses that his teammates failed to capitalise on.
At around the 15 minute mark, Fred closed down de Bruyne, which forced the Belgian star to give the ball away and the Brazilian midfielder played Marcus Rashford through and the Englishman had a long shot attempt against Ederson that he parried and latched onto.
Gabriel Jesus was inches away from finding the equaliser for Pep Guardiola’s side as Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez put in a lovely low cross towards the far post that the Brazilian striker could not get at the end of.
United went 1-0 up at the break. City came extremely close to the equaliser again in the 48th minute as Rodrigo (Rodri) hit the crossbar. What followed was unprecented.
A long throw by Dean Henderson caught Manchester City completely off-guard as Luke Shaw found himself in yards of space on the left-hand side as he skipped past Joao Cancelo who could not keep up, and left Kevin de Bruyne in his wake as well. He then played a nice pass to Marcus Rashford who fed it back to him just inside City’s box.
Shaw’s first touch was delightful as he opened his body up to perfectly then place the ball across goal into the bottom-left corner of Ederson’s goal to make it 2-0 in the 50th minute for the Red Devils.
Luke Shaw was terrific once again in what has been a sublime season. He has undoubtedly been United’s best player after Bruno Fernandes and seems to be playing at the level he was supposed to be playing at, staking a strong claim for an England call-up by Gareth Southgate.
Anthony Martial had a golden opportunity to make it 3-0 in the 68th minute as he was 1-on-1 with Ederson but failed to place the ball into one of the corners and hit it close to the keeper who was able to hold onto the ball. Martial’s goal would have capped off an outstanding performance by him.
Phil Foden came on and added a bit of spark to City’s play who started to look more threatening but United managed to hold on to a massive victory.
With 10 games to go, Man City sit pretty at the top of the Premier League with 65 points, followed by Man United who now have 54.