The Reds showed plenty of fight and endeavour but lacked the necessary guile to break down a confident and free-flowing City side, who came away with the points thanks to goals from Edin Dzeko in either half and a late Yaya Toure strike.
Dzeko stunned Old Trafford inside the first minute when he converted from close range after Samir Nasri’s low shot came back off the post, and he volleyed home his second from Nasri’s corner 10 minutes into the second half, before Toure netted a low effort at the death.
After their early opener, the visitors took a grip on the game, with David Silva going close and David De Gea denying Dzeko with a superb fingertip save. It wasn’t until midway through the first half that Joe Hart was tested for the first time, but the City keeper comfortably clung on to Marouane Fellaini’s shot, before Juan Mata curled over from the edge of the box.
David Moyes brought on Shinji Kagawa in place of Tom Cleverley at the interval but City began the second period as they had the first, and Fernandinho glanced a header inches over before Dzeko guided home the second goal.
It was a game-breaker and, though Danny Welbeck, twice, and Wayne Rooney went close to reducing the arrears – Hart denying them on each occasion – City were able to close out the game with relative ease. And Toure added gloss when he fired past De Gea in the 90th minute to make it five derby wins from six for City in the league.