MAN UNITED 0, MAN CITY 3
Two goals from Edin Dzeko and a late strike from Yaya Toure moved Manchester City a giant stride closer to being crowned Barclays Premier League champions following their derby victory.
Big Bosnian striker Dzeko punished United’s defensive frailties as City overcame potentially one of their trickiest remaining fixtures as they climbed back into second spot and within striking distance of leaders Chelsea.
It was another hugely disappointing night for United as City won at Old Trafford for the third successive season – something they had not done since 1970/72 – as well as recording their fifth win in their last six matches against the Reds.
City produced a hugely impressive display which again underlined the massive gulf which now exists between the two teams as United were again a pale shadow of the all-conquering sides of Sir Alex Ferguson’s era.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini could not fault his side’s performance saying: “I am very delighted because we played very well, not only attacking but defending. We were compact and also aggressive.
“Not only are we scoring goals – eight in the last two games – but have improved a lot defensively as it was our fifth clean sheet in a row.
“I am happy with our performance against a team which has very good players, and we didn’t give them any chances to score.”
Pellegrini, who would not be drawn on City’s title prospects, was delighted with Dzeko’s display.
“He has improved a lot this season. He is not only scoring, but working hard without the ball,” he said.
United manager David Moyes admitted they were hindered by an awful start which handed City the initiative.
He explained: “City started well and scoring after 40-odd seconds made it hard for us and put us on the back foot while giving them a lift
“I thought we weathered it and finished the first half strongly as the key was not to concede a second goal.
“We didn’t start the second half well and it was poor marking for City’s second goal.”
Moyes added he couldn’t fault the effort of his players, but admitted they weren’t up to scratch in certain areas.
United’s manager explained that the rebuilding job at Old Trafford will take time.
He said: “This is a job which is going to take a period of time to get right and to get where we want to be.
“I was hoping to be more competitive and nearer the top of the league. We have a lot of really good players, international players, and on our day we can be a match for anyone.”
United recalled Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand to the back line, Tom Cleverley was restored to midfield and Danny Welbeck to provide extra firepower.
They replaced Alexander Buttner, Darren Fletcher, Shinji Kagawa and Ashley Young who all appeared in Saturday’s win at West Ham.
City had captain Vincent Kompany back after suspension and Jesus Navas and Gael Clichy also won starting spots as they replaced Joleon Lescott, Aleksandar Kolarov and James Milner.
It was City who made a dream start taking the lead after only 43 seconds following shambolic defending from United.
David Silva burst through on goal only to be denied by a last-ditch tackle by Rafael Da Silva. Fernandinho played the ball back into the box for Samir Nasri, who in acres of space, fired against the upright.
The rebound flew across the face of goal for Dzeko to fire into the roof of the net from three yards. It was the third fastest goal ever scored in the Manchester derby.
United’s defence looked suspect every time City attacked and Silva released Dzeko who was denied a second goal by a superb save by David De Gea low to his left.
Marouane Fellaini was lucky not to be sent off after deliberately elbowing Pablo Zabaleta as referee Michael Oliver, stood only yards away, amazingly only brandished a yellow card.
United’s best chance of the opening period came five minutes before the break when Juan Mata fired over from a Rafael cross when he ought to have hit the target but, overall, the Reds were lucky to reach the interval only one goal behind after being comprehensively outplayed.
Moyes made a change at the break bringing on Kagawa for Cleverley in a straight midfield swop.
City had a great chance to increase their advantage early in the second half but Fernandinho headed over from inside the six-yard box.
They finally made it 2-0 in the 56th minute when Dzeko struck again with a terrific volley from seven yards high past De Gea from a Nasri corner as he eluded Ferdinand to score his 20th goal of the season.
United’s response was to bring on Antonio Valencia for Fellaini to try and ignite the attacking spark they had lacked.
Welbeck had two great chances to half the deficit as his weak shot was easily saved by Joe Hart who then made a brilliant block to keep out his cheeky near post back heel.
City brought on Javi Garcia and James Milner for Nasri and Navas sacrificing flair for two more solid combatants to ensure they held on to their two-goal advantage.
Not only did City succeed defensively, but also extended their lead in the 89th minute when Milner’s cut back was deflected to Toure who found the net with a low drive from just inside the box.