Manchester City extend their winning run and their lead at the top with 2-1 victory over their Manchester rivals.
In truth the first 40 minutes of this game can be skipped. Both teams cancelled each other out with City dominating possession but rarely threatening and Utd failing to land any significant punches.
David Silva’s opening goal in the 42nd minute was desperately needed but the nature of the goal was unexpected. The talk before the game (including in 1stforfootball’s Derby Day: The 5 key areas!) was about City’s vulnerability from set pieces but it was a City corner that opened the scoring. The ball dropped to the edge of the 6 yard box and it was the Spanish playermaker that reacted quickest, volleying into the back of the net.
Minutes later and Utd were level. Their first real chance of the game fell to Marcus Rashford after Otamendi and Delph both missed a hopeful ball in. Rashford took the chance with real composure, slotting the ball into the bottom left hand corner of Ederson’s goal with a first time finish.
The flurry of goals before half time were sorely needed and set the second half up perfectly. City came out with their usual speed and style as they tried to regain their advantage but again it was a set piece and some horrific Utd defending that handed them the lead.
A free kick put into the box was met by the right boot of Romelu Lukaku. His clearance was drilled low into the back of Chris Smalling and landed at the feet of Otamendi who, as Silva had done previously, volleyed into the net from 6 yards out.
Utd attempted to push for the equaliser but City were a constant threat on the counter and with better decision making could have gone 3 or 4 goals up.
The big moment of the game came in the 85th minute when Mata clipped the ball into Martial whose first time cross found Lukaku 5 yards out. On an occasion like this and against opposition as good as this, Lukaku simply had to score. His poor performance will do little to silence his critics and his part in City’s winner as well as his failure to convert Martial’s cross late on will not do his confidence any favours.
In truth City deserved their win. Their central midfield players controlled the game for large parts and prevented the pacey front four of Martial, Rashford, Lingard and Lukaku from influencing the game as Mourinho would have hoped. City now move 11 points clear of Utd and continue to look an unstoppable force. It may be too early to say City have won the league but in this form it’s hard to see anyone stopping them.