Manchester United were victorious in the Manchester derby, as Manchester City fail to break down United’s strong defence
As far as Manchester derbies go, there have been more exciting ones, however this one did have its fair share of controversy and chances to whet your appetite. The red half of Manchester came out victorious this time after a professional display saw them manage to hold off City’s attacks which proved especially difficult in the last 25 minutes when City were bombarding United. The one goal that separated the teams came from England hopeful Marcus Rashford, as United got their first win at the Etihad since 2012, courtesy of a Robin van Persie free-kick.
If this game was a film…
Carry On Doctor
The Manchester City medical team are definitely earning their wage at the moment. After the international break Kevin de Bruyne, Samir Nasri, and Fabian Delph should all be back to full fitness and ready to play again—however in the meantime Vincent Kompany has picked up a calf injury (well, two), Nicolás Otamendi wasn’t fit for this game, and then in this game two of England’s first team squad were forced off due to injury. Raheem Sterling picked up a groin injury, and Joe Hart picked up a calf injury which will see them out of international duty and probably a game or two for City. Joe Hart took one for the team in his injury, as Martín Demichelis’ awkward back-pass was too short and the keeper slid to clear the ball, pulling his calf in the process. With Kompany out, and Demichelis in bad form, City fans will be pleased to hear that the combination of Fernandinho and Eliaquim Mangala looked assured and comfortable in the second half of the match. As Pep Guardiola has a habit of turning central midfielders into centre-backs, don’t be surprised if you see Fernandinho slip into the back-four more often next season.
15th minute: GOAL. Rashford skipped past a sliding Demichelis and the shot was too fast for Hart to clear.
17th minute: This time it was Anthony Martial with the shot that burned Hart’s fingertips.
25th minute: SUB. Sterling OFF with injury, Fernando ON.
44th minute: Big chance for Yaya Touré to score after a David Silva free kick was flicked on by Bacary Sagna to land at the feet of Touré. He just fluffs his lines at the vital moment.
45th minute: PENALTY? Demichelis brought down Rashford in the box. Rashford went down rather easily which may have put doubt in the referee’s mind, but Demichelis had blatantly fouled the Englishman.
46th minute: INJURY. A slow back pass from Demichelis forced Hart to slide to the saviour of Manchester City and kick the ball away. In the process he got injured.
49th minute: SUB. Hart OFF with injury, Willy Caballero ON to a huge round of applause from the City faithful.
52nd minute: SUB. Demichelis OFF. Wilfried Bony ON. Fernandinho dropped into centre-defence. Manuel Pellegrini on why he took Demichelis off: “I think that he was nervous.”
65th minute: POST. A surge in pressure from Manchester City almost resulted in a goal. Touré whipped in a great cross from the right wing and Sergio Agüero beat David de Gea at his near post—although he couldn’t quite beat the post itself.
91st minute: CHANCE. Just in case you there was any doubt that today was not City’s day, Agüero brought down a ball wonderfully from the air onto his chest and volleyed the ball inches wide.
“I have seen the dressing room after the match and it was fantastic to see: the happiness. I don’t think that we have had a lot of luck this season and now we have a big result. One point behind, equal with West Ham United, more home matches than away matches, so we have the possibility.” – Louis van Gaal (LVG) on United finishing in the top four and playing in the Champions League next season.
“We have another 24 points to play, every game is different” – Manuel Pellegrini on whether City could still do it and be in the top four.
With West Ham United breathing down both Manchester team’s necks, the discussion of who will finish in the top four will not go away soon, and could see the battle go all the way to the last day of the season. Who knows—Agüero may have to pop up with another 93rd minute goal on the last day.
Man of the Match
I hold my hands up and say that probably two or three times in the career of Michael Carrick, I have thought that his time was coming to an end in the United midfield. Despite this, he keeps coming back! His classy display against Manchester City highlighted that experience is important to a team, and Carrick still has the legs to play in the United midfield. Skipper for the day, Carrick did his job quietly and worked well alongside Morgan Schneiderlin. LVG highlighted Morgan Schneiderlin in his post-match press conference, but said he is sceptical to compliment his performance: “I won’t say it too loudly. The last time that I said I was very happy for Morgan Schneiderlin, after that he didn’t play a very good match… He played a very important position in midfield, I was very happy.”
The later stages of the match saw Carrick wilt slightly and City looked like they could score the equaliser, but the reds held out and Carrick appeared with a few last ditch tackles to help the reds along. The midfielder has been left out of the England squad for the upcoming friendlies, as Danny Drinkwater has been called up. Drinkwater may have had a fantastic season, but if Carrick keeps pulling out these big performances in big games then he surely has to go to the European Championships this summer.
Carrick’s Moment of the Match: Around the 70th minute City were ramping up the pressure and creating some great chances. On one occasion it came to Bony in the box who only had to tap it in, but Carrick came flying in to block the ball and see it go out for another corner.
City’s Man of the Match
Although City didn’t find the all-important goal, they had plenty of attacks, and Clichy played a big part in those attacks. Defensively he was strong too, but it was his pace on the attack that was so impressive. It must be noted, however, that Clichy felt he was having such a good game that he took on a 25-yard shot with his right foot during the second half. The ball can be seen orbiting Uranus.
Despite another blank in a mini goal drought for the Argentinian, Agüero also had a good game, and Fernando supplied security for the back four after his introduction.
Stats of the Match
Manchester United had five shots—their joint lowest in a single match this season.
Manchester City had 26 shots—their highest without scoring since the first day of 2012 against Sunderland.
Quote of the Presser:
LVG on whether Marcus Rashford should be in the England squad: “I don’t want to interfere. He is young. He is good, otherwise I don’t let him stay—and I let him stay there. Last week there was questions why I let him stay, in the media, and now I am asked why he is not in the national team. I am consistent, you are not.”
This may be a year too early for Rashford to create a strong enough campaign to get on the flight to France for the European Championships, but I am sure that he is a name we will hear the England manager talk about in the future for a spot in the squad.
Pulling a sicky
Don’t be surprised if you go into work tomorrow and half the staff—notably all Manchester City fans—seem to be mysteriously ill for the day so couldn’t come in. The bragging rights are Manchester United’s for now, and it will stay that way unless City can finish above them at the end of the season. It’s been a few years since United and City have been near each other in the table, so it will add extra intensity for the end of the season! As much as City fans may hate to admit it, it’s nice to have United back… as long as they still finish lower in the league.