Manchester United stunned their noisy neighbours as they came from behind to beat them this morning at Old Trafford. Goals from Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford were the heroes as the home side moved into third. It is a modicum of revenge for a heavy loss earlier on in the campaign.
It means that Man City lose more ground in the title race. They remain second, but Newcastle and Utd are now hot on their heels. They had issues over the equaliser to Fernandes. It was a damning indication of well marshalled they were by the fact they had just one shot on target however. It marks a poor week for the Blue side of Manchester.
Both managers elected to make sweeping changes after midweek cup action. Erik ten Haag only kept Fred, who partnered Casemiro in midfield, and Tyrell Malacia from their victory over Charlton. Anthony Martial played despite carrying an injury. Luke Shaw was again preferred play alongside Raphael Varane in the centre. Pep Guardiola made eight switches from their shock exit against Southampton. Kyle Walker, Joao Cancelo and Phil Foden remained from that game. Erling Haaland returned to lead the attack again.
It was critical that United started better than what they had at the Etihad. Some decent one touch football demonstrated their intent going forward. The best chance in the early stages came when Bruno Fernandes was played in by Christian Eriksen. The angle was tight however and he was only able to squeeze it past the post. Joao Cancelo then got across to block Anthony Martial.
It was noticeable how little the City offensive players were seeing the ball. Fred and Casemiro doing a lot to deny them any space. Erling Haaland had a rare chance after Bernardo Silva cross was deflected into his path. Casemiro and Tyrell Malacia combined to block him out.
Ederson was then almost guilty of a horrendous error in judgement. Fernandes found Marcus Rashford in space out wide on the left. The City keeper decided to rush out of his goal which allowed the Utd striker to skip past him. He needed to take a touch which allowed Kyle Walker to get back and clear off the line. Rashford was at it again as he skipped past Rodri. Ederson was able to make a crucial block on this occasion. Rashford went down in a challenge with Manuel Akanji. It looked serious but he was able to continue.
City emerged in the second half in a more determined fashion. Walker was allowed room to carry it through the middle and find Silva. His deflected effort was easily collected by David de Gea. They then had a breakaway following a Utd free kick. Kevin De Bruyne curled an effort towards the back post where Silva headed it back into the area. Haaland was unable to reach it and Foden went down under pressure. There was insufficient contact to award a penalty.
Guardiola knew changes were needed and one of these opened the scoring. De Bruyne played an excellent cross into the area and Jack Grealish rose the highest to head it past De Gea. Just the impact his boss would have wanted.
Utd tried to get back into the game and Rashford set up Alejandro Garnacho for an opportunity. He skipped past Akanji but found himself blocked by the recovering Walker.
The reds did get an equaliser with about ten minutes left to play and Rashford had a lot to do with it. By doing absolutely nothing. The ball was played through with the striker in an offside position. He recognised that and resisted the urge to touch it allowing Fernandes to lash it home. It had been ruled out initially, but VAR showed the lack of contact by Rashford. United level and City furious.
Just when the fans had gotten over that, the home side were in front. Rashford fed it out wide to Garnacho who returned the favour to the Wythenshawe Pele who poked it past Ederson. The fans exploded in noise and suddenly it was City looking down the barrel of defeat.
As much as they tried to push back the Utd players and create a decent opening for themselves, the red wall stood tall. Rashford went off to a massive ovation as Ten Haag sought to shut up shop. A poked pass intended for Haaland rolled through to De Gea who took the opportunity to kill some seconds.
Celebrations from the home players and fans upon the final whistle, as the away side continued their protests to the referee. Given their lack of impact for much of the game, they might perhaps look at themselves. United have certainly had questionable decisions go against them in recent years. Next up is a trip to Crystal Place in a re-scheduled game on Wednesday at 20.00. City, meanwhile, face a Tottenham at home the following evening.
Manchester Utd: David De Gea; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia (Lisandro Martinez 90+2), Carlos Casemiro (Scott McTominay 90+2), Fred, Bruno Fernandes, Cristian Eriksen (Alejandro Garnacho 72); Marcus Rashford (Harry Maguire 90+2), Anthony Martial (Antony 46)
Subs not used: Tom Heaton, Victor Lindelof, Anthony Elanga, Kobee Mainoo
Booked: Cristian Eriksen (64), Fred (88), Carlos Casemiro (89)
Manchester City: Ederson; Kyle Walker, Manuel Akanji, Nathan Ake, Joao Cancelo, Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez; Erling Haaland, Philip Foden (Jack Grealish 57)
Referee: Stuart Atwell