MAN UNITED 2, MAN CITY 0
Manchester United completed a first derby double over their ‘noisy neighbours’ since 2009-10 to reinforce the Reds’ bid for a Champions League place.
Goals from Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay kept Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side within three points of Chelsea who are in fourth place.
Solskjaer certainly seems to have got the measure of City having beaten them three times in 2019-20, the first time Guardiola has lost three times to same side in a season.
City, despite enjoying 72 per cent possession, managed only seven goal attempts, a measure of how well United defended.
United may have seen little of the ball but they defended resolutely and even managed 12 goal attempts.
True they had a little luck as both goals came about due to uncharacteristic errors from City’s Brazilian goalkeeper.
He allowed Martial’s volley to squirm past him and then a poor throw enabled McTominay to hit the second to seal victory.
Solskjaer refused to take the credit declaring it was the players who had secured three wins against City this season.Embed from Getty Images
He said: “The result was the deciding factor and I am happy with another three points.
“The performance was as expected against them as we had to defend well and drop deep.
“When we were able to press high up the field, we made them make mistakes and created chances, big chances.”
Solskjaer spoke of the privilege to work with this group of players.
“They show commitment and desire through the hard work they put in. There is a humility as they know they have to work their socks off.”
Solskjaer spoke about the defensive foundation as this was an eighth clean sheet in 10 games, adding there is a “connection” between the fans and the players.
There was also praise for new-boy Bruno Fernandes who provided the assist for Martial’s matchwinner.
“Bruno has everything, works hard and is humble. He has that X-Factor, is a risk taker and he is brave enough to make mistakes,” he said.
Solskjaer spoke about the team improving but aware they lack up to three players to be considered title contenders.
Pep Guardiola was not too disappointed, saying: “We played really well, but missed a little in the final third but the second half was better and overall it was a game we played well.
“In general, I am satisfied with the performance. We are not far away.
“I accept the situation we are in, the points we have and the distance (25 points behind Liverpool) because our opponents are so good.”
Asked about Ederson’s errors, Guardiola added “sometimes this happens”.
United made seven changes from the side that won Thursday’s FA Cup tie at Derby County.
Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Fred and Bruno Fernandes retained their places.
It was effectively a return to the regular side, the one which has been the mainstay of their unbeaten run which now stretches to 10 games.
They had plenty reserve as on the bench with Juan Mata, Odion Ighalo, McTominay and Mason Greenwood.
City also made seven changes from the side that kicked off the midweek FA Cup tie at Sheffield Wednesday.
Sergio Aguero, Rodrigo, Bernardo Silva and Nicolas Otamendi were the only survivors.
The players recalled included Oleksandr Zinchenko, Joao Cancelo and Phil Foden.
Kevin De Bruyne was ruled out through injury while Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, David Silva, Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker were on the bench.
Sterling, becoming the fourth youngest player to reach 250 Premier League appearances, had the first chance of the game forcing a decent diving save from David De Gea in the 10th minute.
Daniel James had United’s first chance six minutes later, but his shot was easily saved by Ederson who also easily dealt with an effort from Martial who ought to have passed to James who was free to his right.
United made the breakthrough on the half hour through Martial, but Fernandes provided the assist with a moment of pure magic.
Fernandes took a quick free kick after Ilkay Gundogan committed a foul, cheekily chipping the ball to Martial who volleyed low past Ederson who will be disappointed as he got a good hand to the ball but it squeezed past him, his 15th goal of the season.
Martial became the first United player to score home and away to City in the derby since Cristiano Ronaldo achieved the feat in 2006-07.
There was an eventful start to the second period as Aguero had a goal ruled out by VAR which was by the tiniest of margins.
City goalkeeper Ederson then miss-controlled a back pass from Cancelo, but manager to clear the ball from almost on the line as Martial slid in, colliding with the post.
Foden forced an athletic save from De Gea who turned over his drive from 30 yards.
City made a double change just before the hour as Aguero and Bernardo Silva made way for Jesus and Mahrez.
Otamendi flashed a header over and Foden fired into the stand as City stepped up their pursuit of a leveller.
United could have doubled their lead with 20 minutes left when Daniel James raced clear of the right, cut inside and forced Ederson to turn over his fierce drive.
Jesus’ angled shot forced a decent save from De Gea with Brandon Williams completing the clearance.
City made their last change with 13 minutes left as Mendy replaced Zinchenko.
And at the same time Solskjaer made a double switch as Williams and Martial made way for Eric Bailly and McTominay.
United made their last change in the 88th minute when Fernandes made way for Ighalo.
They sealed victory in the sixth minute of added time – only five had been signalled.
Ederson, sensing time was running out, threw the ball out too quickly and it was intercepted by McTominay who walloped in from 40 yards into the empty net, his fifth of the campaign.
And the joyous scenes at the final whistle and the rare sight of supporters staying behind long after the end of the game to celebrate indicated just how much the victory means to the red half of the city.