It took a half to really get going, but in the end the first Manchester derby of this Premier League season lived up to the billing, with Manchester City’s pulsating 3-1 home win over chief rival Manchester United leapfrogging the Cityzens past Liverpool and atop of the table.
For the first 45 minutes, it wasn’t much of a match. The teams combined for just one shot on goal during the entire opening stanza: David Silva’s early strike that gave City a 1-0 lead heading into the intermission:
It looked like it would be a stroll for the hosts at that point. Although United upset the Sky Blues at the City of Manchester Stadium when the teams last met in April, The Red Devils were 0W-2L-1T in the three derbies before that. It’s also no secret that the defending English champs have been far more successful than their decorated crosstown foes in recent years.
So when Sergio Aguero doubled City’s advantage with a powerful near-post strike just three minutes into the second half, few would’ve blamed the away supporters from bolting for the door early:
It didn’t help that United were playing shorthanded, with the injured Paul Pogba ruled out before the contest. Yet the guests came into the match riding a quiet confidence, the result of their surprise Champions League win away to Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus last week. So when Anthony Martial pulled Jose Mourinho’s side back within one from the penalty spot with about a half-hour to go, it was Game On.
It stayed that way almost to the end, too, with United pressing for the equalizer and City repeatedly springing counterattacks the other direction over a spellbinding final 30 minutes. Manchester United never managed to find the goal they needed to claim a point though. And as they tired, Pep Guardiola’s men took advantage by passing them into submission, Ilkay Gundogan finishing off a ridiculous 42-move sequence to seal the win with four minutes of the 90 remaining:
With the victory, City moves two points clear of Liverpool atop the Prem. Meantime, United sits eighth heading into the international break, with Nov. 24 against Crystal Palace their next chance to move up the standings.
The drama didn’t end at the final whistle. Guardiola wasn’t happy with Raheem Sterling’s showboating as the final seconds ticked away, with the England star’s step-over routine also angering Juan Mata and other United players:
“He’s young,” Guardiola said afterward. “I’m pretty sure it’s not going to happen again.”
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