Report: United 2 City 1
Manchester United delivered a brilliant comeback to beat local rivals City, 2-1, a win that makes it seven victories in seven matches since the restart after the World Cup.
Erik ten Hag’s side offered considerable threat in the first half, but were initially undone by substitute Jack Grealish’s flying header on the hour.
A quickfire Bruno Fernandes strike, originally flagged offside, and Marcus Rashford tap-in flipped the result on its head, though, as the Reds sent our fans wild on a memorable day at Old Trafford.
We were forced to remain patient in the opening exchanges, as the visitors settled into the possession-heavy style that has defined Pep Guardiola’s era.
It was United who had the first major chance, though. Fernandes fired wide from a difficult angle after latching onto Christian Eriksen’s sharp pass into the box. Minutes later, Fernandes sent a tremendous cross-field pass into the path of Anthony Martial, who couldn’t trouble Ederson after a moment of smart pressing from the Reds.
Fred’s energy and combativeness consistently got the Old Trafford faithful off their feet. Ten Hag brought the defensive midfielder into the side as a replacement for winger Antony, who was unlucky not to start after two goals in two games. Fred hounded Kevin De Bruyne with a couple of big tackles, forcing the Belgian playmaker to move wide to escape the congested midfield.
United continued to trouble City on the break, and in the 34th minute, Rashford burst beyond the onrushing Ederson, after another pinpoint Bruno pass. City defenders backed their goalkeeper up well and immediately covered the line, stopping us from a simple opening goal with a vital block.
Rashford was once again at the heart of United’s threat three minutes later. A beautiful passing exchange down the left saw Eriksen set his colleague away from Rodri, who couldn’t match him for pace. Ederson stood firm against Rashford’s little dink as another useful opportunity went begging.
United fans everywhere held their breath as Rashford went down with an apparent injury just before half-time, but he returned to the field shortly after. City finished the half prodding and probing around our box, culminating in Kyle Walker blasting a long shot just wide of David De Gea’s post.
SECOND-HALF - A HUGE COMEBACK
A fiery opening to the second half whipped up both sets of fans. Antony, who replaced Martial at half-time, hassled Nathan Ake into conceding a dangerous set-piece wide of the box. Raphael Varane forced Ederson into a save from the resulting cross, but was flagged offside.
City quickly responded, speeding up play through De Bruyne down the right wing, who tested our defence with a number of tricky passes across the box. United cleared the first one, but minutes later, his delivery laid on an unmissable header for substitute Grealish to make it 1-0 on the hour mark.
United struggled to contain City’s energy in possession after the goal, despite working avidly to close down the spaces. Aaron Wan-Bissaka showed some excellent skill down the flank before an attempt at goal, moments before Ten Hag turned to Alejandro Garnacho in place of Eriksen from the bench.
Garnacho immediately stretched City’s backline, helping United wrestle back momentum. An uplift of pressure would tell in the 78th minute, as Fernandes curled home from a defence-splitting Casemiro pass. Rashford, who initially chased the ball, smartly decided not to touch it but the officials needed to consult each other before the verdict of a goal brought the house down.
Just four minutes later, Garnacho's influence once again proved pivotal. His incision down the left had City scrambling, and, at the second attempt, he pinged a cross right into Rashford's path to fire past Ederson for 2-1.
City laid on the pressure, but Ten Hag's side continued to show the character that has underlined such an impressive season so far. Arguably the best result of his tenure puts United just one point behind Pep's men, who trail Arsenal by five after playing one game more.
United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Shaw, Malacia (Martinez 90+2); Fred, Casemiro (Maguire 90+2), Eriksen (Garnacho 72), Fernandes, Rashford (McTominay 90+2); Martial (Antony 45).
Unused Substitutes: Heaton, Lindelof, Mainoo, Elanga.
Goals: Fernandes 78, Rashford 82.
Booked: Eriksen, Fred, Casemiro.
City: Ederson; Walker, Akanji, Ake, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Silva; Mahrez, Haaland, Foden (Grealish 57).
Unused Substitutes: Ortega, Lewis, Laporte, Gomez, Phillips, Palmer, Gundogan, Alvarez.
Goals: Grealish 60.