Manchester United 2-0 Manchester City
They’re painting the city Red in Manchester tonight after United beat City to keep their hopes of a Champions League place well and truly alive.
Premier League: Manchester United vs Manchester City is always a treat for the neutrals, but it means a lot to both sides of Manchester and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side did their fans proud. From the Red Devils’ point of view, Chelsea’s 4-0 win against Everton meant this was a game they really needed to win to strengthen their hopes of a top-four place. And a goal from Anthony Martial and a last gasp second from Scott McTominay was just the job.
The pre-match Manchester United vs Manchester City news, which put a smile on Red Devils’ faces, was the news that Kevin de Bruyne wasn’t playing a part and that meant a first start for young Phil Foden in a Manchester derby. Foden did his best but City were 5 per cent short throughout the pitch.
Highlights of the game
Manchester United had more to play for, and it showed in the early parts of the game as they carved out some good chances, and they deservedly went ahead on 30 minutes.
When the opener came it was a clever move from United, but a howler from City keeper Ederson. Bruno Fernandes chipped a free-kick over the City defence and Anthony Martial met it with a low shot which the City keeper fumbled as it rolled in at his near post. The Sky Blues were unhappy about the free-kick award and Rodri went into the referee’s book for dissent, but there’s no hiding from the fact their normally excellent keeper should have saved the shot.
But the home fans didn’t care one jot. It was Bruno’s third assist in six starts and his name rang around Old Trafford.
The second half opened up with a couple of odd moments. First Sergio Aguero fired the ball into the United net after being flagged offside; and then there was a long VAR deliberation before the offside decision was upheld, by a knife-edge. And then at the other end, Ederson, the best ball-playing keeper in the world, miss-controlled a back pass and then had to make a goal-saving tackle to stop Martial poking the ball in the net.
That prompted City into life and Foden hit a lovely drive which De Gea tipped over the bar. And the Sky Blues began to up the ante but couldn’t find a clear opening.
United had a chance to double their lead on a lighting break, but Daniel James fired at Ederson when a square pass to Fernandes was the better option.
City inched closer to a goal but Raheem Sterling couldn’t get a touch to a Riyad Mahrez cross and then David de Gea made a good save to deny Gabriel Jesus. The Red Devils were penned into their own half as the Sky Blues poured forward but the visitors lacked a cutting edge and Sterling’s tame shot was comfortably held by De Gea.
And then, as the seconds ticked away and City threw everything at it, we had another spectacular moment as poor Ederson tried to hurl the ball out, but got it stuck in his glove and Scott McTominay chipped the ball into the empty net.
The stadium erupted and the smiles are back at Old Trafford.
It was the fourth Manchester derby of the season, all previously won by the away team but now United have completed a monumental league double.
This was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 50th Premier League game in charge of Manchester United and his ten games unbeaten are the best sequence since the 11 match run he had when he took over.
And, believe it or not, this is City’s first defeat in March under Pep Guardiola.
The Red Devils are on the road again with a Europa League trip to Austria to play Linz ASK, and then they head to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to meet a familiar face in former boss Jose Mourinho, who is struggling to guide Spurs to a top-four place.
The Sky Blues are on the hunt for more silverware this season, having already bagged the EFL Cup, and soon enough they have other mouth-watering Champions League tie against Real Madrid, having beaten Los Blancos at the Bernabeu. Before that they host two teams in the hunt for a Europa League place, Burnley and Arsenal.
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