MAN CITY 4, MAN UNITED 1
Champions Manchester United were comprehensively outplayed by their neighbours who produced a dazzling display which suggested the Premier League title will soon be heading from Old Trafford to the Etihad Stadium.
It was an embarrassingly one-sided derby in which new manager Manuel Pellegrini’s new-look side dismantled United with ruthless efficiency to climb into third place in the table.
Two goals from Sergio Aguero and once apiece from Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri was suitable reward for the efforts of City who became the first club to score four goals against City on three occasions in the Premier League era.
And the loss left David Moyes, like Pellegrini experiencing his first derby, knowing that a vast improvement is needed if they are to successfully defend their title as they currently languish in eighth place.
Certainly the bragging rights went to City whose fans savoured every moment as they mocked Moyes as they inflicted a defeat almost as painful as the 6-1 victory they secured at Old Trafford in October, 2011 en route to their first title in 44 years.
Pellegrini admitted the win was a statement saying: “It was an important result as normally you don’t expect to win 4-1 to Manchester United.
“The main thing was to win, but the most important thing was the way we played. Normally derbies are more equal, but today we had a very good day and that allowed us to have superiority against City.
“The way we won today will give us a lot of trust and confidence.”
Moyes conceded his side was second best saying: “We didn’t start well and Manchester City were the better team, were stronger, controlled the game and we found it hard to contain them.
“There was no reason why we didn’t perform well as we have a good win in midweek and wanted to build on it.
“Every manager has bad days and results and I am no different. We had a lot of chances late on, though the game was won by City.”
Moyes described the absence of the injured Robin van Persie a big miss, but described Wayne Rooney’s performance as possibly the best on the pitch adding he didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.
City received a lift even before a ball was kicked after learning Dutchman van Persie was ruled out of the derby through a groin strain.
However, the Reds welcomed back Danny Welbeck after injury while Ashley Young was preferred to Shinji Kagawa.
City’s selection dilemma saw Pellegrini go with Alvaro Negredo up front with Edin Dzeko having to settle for a place on the bench.
It was City, still without the injured David Silva, who made most of the early running without troubling United’s defence.
City eventually made the breakthrough in the 16th minute with a goal of quality as Samir Nasri played a delightful reverse pass to release Aleksandar Kolarov whose cross was volleyed home by Aguero for his second goal of the campaign.
And soon it was almost 2-0 as an equally spectacular volley, this time from Nasri, dipped narrowly over the crossbar.
United, outplayed for most of the opening period, had to wait until the 42nd minute before creating their first chance, an almost apologetic shot from Antonio Valencia which flew well wide.
And City struck another huge psychological blow in stoppage time when they added a second goal. Nasri’s corner was headed towards goal by Negredo and Yaya Toure diverted it past David De Gea off his knee from a couple of yards.
The goal helped give a true reflection of an opening period which City had completely dominated creating 13 goal attempts to United’s one with the corner count also 7-1 in their favour.
City put the game to bed little over 60 seconds into the second period when they added a third goal as Negredo cut the ball back from the left for Aguero to score his second from six yards with a second volleyed goal.
And it soon got even better when City added a fourth goal as Nasri swept home a far-post shot following a terrific break down the right by Jesus Navas followed by an inch-perfect cross.
Wayne Rooney ought to have put United on the scoresheet from a Chris Smalling cut back, but he blazed over from 12 yards.
City, four goals to the good, seemed to take their foot off the accelerator allowing United to more of a threat as keeper Joe Hart was forced to make two decent saves to keep out Welbeck’s deflected shot and also to tip over an effort from Marouane Fellaini.
Patrice Evra header against the upright from a corner by Rooney whose follow-up shot was saved by the legs of Hart as City’s goal somehow remained intact.
United finally found a route to goal in the 87th minute when Rooney bent a 30-yard free kick over the defensive wall into the top corner of the net.
It was to prove a mere consolation on an afternoon which firmly belonged to City.