MAN UTD 0, MAN CITY 2
Manchester City safely negotiated possibly their biggest remaining obstacle to retaining their Premier League title.
Pep Guardiola became the first Premier League manager to win three times at Manchester United on a night when statistics illuminated the contrasting fortunes of the two teams.
City regained top spot after recording an 11th straight Premier League victory thanks to goals from Bernardo Silva and substitute Leroy Sane while they took their season’s goalscoring total to 157 in all competitions which beats their previous record from the 2013/14 title-winning campaign under Manuel Pellegrini.
They need to win their three remaining games against Burnley, Leicester and Brighton to be crowned champions.
United, by contrast, lost for the seventh time in nine games, their worst run since 1962.
The goals conceded took their total to 50, their worst defensive record since 1978/79 and they have now gone 12 games in all competitions without keeping a clean sheet.
It is no better at the opposite end of the pitch where they have failed to score in open play for 527 minutes, not far short of nine hours.Embed from Getty Images
City manager Pep Guardiola was delighted with the way his side responded to the Champions League exit with league wins against Tottenham and United.
He said: “You cannot imagine how frustrating and tough it was to lose in the Champions League as we felt it was there for us.
“We had to play Tottenham again three days later when it was not a perfect performance. We needed to win to stay alive in the Premier League and we reacted under pressure.
“Then to come here to United, the most prestigious team in the last 20/30 years, and win here three times in a row is fantastic.”
Guardiola added had they lost nothing would have changed.
“The players have my incredible respect. It is massive what they have done this season, incredible. Manchester City should be so proud of these players,” he said.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took positives from the defeat, saying: “We got a great reaction, but in the end we were beaten by a better team.
“You could see from the first minute that they wanted to show the crowd who were incredible again.
“The first half was decent. We held our own and created chances. Going into half time we knew there was a lot of work to be done, but they won deservedly because they had too much for us.
“They are the best team in the country. They have set the standard in the last two seasons. What Pep Guardiola has done with his players is remarkable. We are so close to it in the vicinity so we feel it every day.
“Of course we are disappointed, but you can look at yourself and say we gave everything, but we need to do that tomorrow and the next day. It’s about doing everything you can to close it (the gap).”
Solskjaer made five changes from the side that suffered a humiliating defeat at Everton on Sunday and also a change of system to 5-3-2 with Matteo Darmian employed as an extra centre half.
There were recalls for Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, Ashley Young, Luke Shaw and Darmian.
Losing their starting spots were Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial, Nemanja Matic, Phil Jones and Diogo Dalot.
City had two changes from the side that beat Tottenham on Saturday as Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones were ruled out through injury.
They were replaced by Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho.
United made a positive start as they sought redemption for Sunday’s hefty loss at Goodison Park.
City could have taken a 15th minute lead in bizarre fashion when Raheem Sterling’s shot was deflected off Chris Smalling and forced David De Gea into a decent save.
It was a momentary threat from City as United remained in control as Fred and Lingard both went close with decent strikes.
De Gea was called into action again with beating a fiercely-struck shot from Bernardo Silva.
After Rashford’s 35-yard drive dipped just over the bar, the chances subsided for a quiet 20-minute period.
City had a great chance to take the lead shortly before half time when a slick passing move ended with Sterling’s low shot from eight yards saved by De Gea.
And that was quickly followed by Sergio Aguero shooting not far wide as they finished the half strongly.
City were forced into a change soon after the restart when Fernandinho limped off to be replaced by Sane.
The deadlock was broken by Bernardo Silva in the 55th minute.
He was released by Ilkay Gundogan and ran at Shaw before shooting low to the left of De Gea.
City soon almost doubled their lead when Aguero’s shot struck the outside of the upright after Sane and David Silva linked superbly.
United had a chance to equalise but Lingard was unable to connect with a cross from Rashford as he dived in at the far post.
City strengthened their hold when they made it 2-0 midway through the half after Fred carelessly gave away the ball.
Kompany released Sterling who in turn set up Sane who rifled a shot low past De Gea who ought to have done better as it went into the net off his leg.
United made their first change with 18 minutes left when Pereira made way for Lukaku.
The final two Reds’ chances with seven minutes left saw Lingard and Darmian make way for Martial and Alexis Sanchez.
City made their last two changes in the final minute as Aguero and Gundogan were replaced by Gabriel Jesus and Danilo.