Match report: City 3 United 1

Sunday 03 March 2024 17:29

A resilient display from Manchester United was not enough to win the derby, as Phil Foden’s double helped claim the day for City after Marcus Rashford’s spectacular early effort.

Rashford’s sixth goal of the season left Ederson with no chance, with United roaring into a lead which stood for 48 minutes, under regular and sustained pressure from the hosts.

Erling Haaland missed a gilt-edged chance on the verge of half-time, but Foden answered back with his own stunner to equalise just before the hour mark.

The homegrown Blues midfielder slipped into the box with 10 minutes to play to score again and Haaland added a third in injury time to consign the Reds to a first Premier League defeat in a game we’d led at the break since September 2014.

Rashford roars in celebration in front of the travelling Reds.


Before kick-off, Ten Hag emphasised the importance of United overloading the midfield and finding the runs of our pacy attackers in behind City’s high backline and it was perhaps for this reason that Bruno Fernandes started the game in an unfamiliar false-nine position.

After a couple of early defensive contributions, the skipper was the furthest player forward as Andre Onana fed him with a long goal-kick in the eighth minute.

Fernandes, played onside by Nathan Ake, controlled the ball, kept it away from compatriot Ruben Dias and laid it back for Rashford, who launched an unstoppable 25-yard drive, which kissed Ederson’s crossbar before nestling in the back of the net.

It was the game’s first shot on target, and the perfect start for the Reds, who now had a platform to build on.

The hosts, as expected, did not panic, continuing to play their possession-centric game and Foden soon tested Onana after Bernardo Silva’s slide-rule pass, Andre saving well with his feet.

As the game started to properly open up, Rashford was deceived by the spin of the ball when played clean through by Fernandes, with Kyle Walker able to recover and clear, before Onana once again denied Foden – this time via his left hand – as the England international looked certain to equalise.

The benefit of the Blues piling forward was the vast spaces being left for United to drive into, and Rashford will feel he could have added to his tally when mistiming a shot from another Bruno centre at the far post.

At the other end, Onana was enjoying his first experience of the Etihad Stadium, getting down well to palm Rodri’s volley behind as thoughts started to veer towards the half-time break.

Jonny Evans, playing in his first away derby since 2012, was marshalling the backline superbly alongside Raphael Varane and the pair helped restrict Haaland’s involvement until the prolific Norwegian somehow sidefooted over the bar with the goal gaping.

Onana thwarts Foden during the first half.


The half-time whistle came at an opportune moment for us and, sure enough, when the game resumed City picked up where they left off, Jeremy Doku being the latest Blue to test the reflexes of Onana.

United needed coolness and composure in possession and, for a brief, encouraging spell, we had it, but the hosts were on a run of scoring in 48 straight top-flight home games and, on 56 minutes, Foden’s left-footed arrow made it 1-1 to keep up that impressive sequence.

Rashford claimed a foul under pressure from Kyle Walker when breaking into space, but referee Andy Madley saw no issue and, within 60 seconds, Foden found Onana’s top corner with an effort equally as good as that of his Three Lions’ counterpart.

It was all one-way traffic now, as Foden and Kevin De Bruyne pulled the strings and the Reds sought to defend deep and keep space at a premium.

Bruno Fernandes and compatriot Ruben Dias.

United could still pose a threat going forward, especially with the likes of Fernandes and Alejandro Garnacho on the pitch, and the latter had a penalty shout turned down - although replays showed Ederson had done well to win the ball when challenging with his feet.

The onus was on Pep Guardiola’s side to make something happen after Liverpool’s late win on Saturday, but the opportunities were not being created at the speed they were in the first period and Onana continued to claim the majority of the balls flung into our six-yard box.

City were relentless though and, unfortunately, the decisive moment came with 10 minutes to play, when Foden swapped a one-two with Julian Alvarez, ran into the area and fired low into the bottom-right corner.

Ten Hag’s side were game until the end, but Haaland capitalised on a Sofyan Amrabat error in stoppage time and slipped the ball beyond Onana, as United lost after being ahead at the interval for the first time since a 5-3 reverse at Leicester City under Louis van Gaal.

It was not be for United in the end.


United: Onana; Dalot, Varane, Evans (Kambwala 69), Lindelof; Casemiro, Mainoo (Amrabat 82); Fernandes (c), McTominay, Garnacho (Forson 82); Rashford (Antony 75).

Subs not used: Bayindir, Ogunneye, Eriksen, Collyer, Amad.

Goal: Rashford 8

Booked: Varane

City: Ederson; Walker (c), Dias, Stones, Ake; Rodri, Silva; Foden (Bobb 90+7), De Bruyne, Doku (Alvarez 58); Haaland.

Subs not used: Ortega, Gomez, Gvardiol, Akanji, Lewis, Kovacic, Nunez.

Goals: Foden 56, 80, Haaland 90+1.