Report: City 1 United 2

Manchester United celebrated a magnificent festive Manchester derby as a first-half goal blitz did the damage at the Etihad Stadium with the Reds running out 2-1 winners.

Goals in the first half an hour from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s attack of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial gave United much-needed breathing space on a nail-biting evening. City had the majority of the possession afterwards but it was stoic rearguard work from the Reds that kept the Blues at bay before a late Nicolas Otamendi header created a tense climax. But United held firm and made it back-to-back wins following the Old Trafford success against Spurs in midweek.

David De Gea probably wasn’t expecting such a watching brief during the opening half of the derby but it was his opposite number Ederson in City’s goal who had to earn the early money saving from Daniel James, Jesse Lingard and Martial.

The Blues looked very uneasy about United’s pace and counter-attacking and the panic spread to their midfielder Bernardo Silva in the 21st minute when he made a clumsy attempt to stop Rashford in the box.

VAR took a couple of minutes to clear up the penalty decision but it was rightly awarded. In the mood Mancunian Rashford was as calm as you like as he stroked the spot-kick home. United were rampant and soon after Rashford rolled a decent chance wide and then hit the bar as City wobbled and the homes fans became audibly irritated.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka defends against Gabriel Jesus.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka defends against Gabriel Jesus.

It was all United and Martial extended the lead after 29 minutes as he teamed up with James to cut City open and he swept in his goal at Ederson’s near post off the upright. It was United’s half by the length of the Mancunian Way.

A reaction was inevitable from the chastened Blues, especially as they went in at half-time fuming that VAR had ruled that Fred’s handball in the box was not a penalty.

The Reds had to defend stoutly after the restart and our blocking and squeezing was immense as they frustrated the hosts. We still looked dangerous going forward and after 66 minutes when United broke at speed Lingard had his shot saved by Ederson.

Sir Alex watches on from the stands.
Sir Alex watches on from the stands.

United were pegged back apart from a couple of rare breaks but there was a dogged determination about Solskjaer’s side defending. However, the red wall was breached after 85 minutes when Otamendi powered in a header from a corner. Seconds later it took a brilliant low one-handed save from De Gea to deny City sub Riyad Mahrez and keep United’s lead intact.

It was a tense finale but United brilliantly, and deservedly, survived the onslaught to take the three points off the reigning champions and make it an excellent few days for the Reds.

Marcus Rashford made it 10 league goals for the season.
Marcus Rashford made it 10 league goals for the season.

TEAM LINE-UPS

Man City: Ederson, Walker, Stones (Otamendi 59), Fernandinho, Angelino, Rodri (Gundogan 86), D Silva, De Bruyne, B Silva (Mahrez 64), Sterling, Jesus.

Subs not used: Bravo, Mendy, Cancelo, Foden

Goal:  Otamendi 85

Bookings: B Silva, De Bruyne, Walker

United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw (Young 88), McTominay, Fred, James, Lingard (Tuanzebe 88), Rashford, Martial (Andreas 73).

Subs not used: Romero, Mata,  Greenwood, Williams

Goals: Rashford 23 pen, Martial 29

Bookings: De Gea, Andreas

Attendance: 54,403

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