Manchester City clinched a record 14th consecutive top-flight victory in the sweetest possible manner with a 2-1 win over rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.
David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi scored the goals as Pep Guardiola’s men opened up an ominous 11-point lead at the top of the Premier League with victory in the 175th Manchester derby.
Marcus Rashford had punished a defensive lapse from Otamendi and Fabian Delph in first-half stoppage-time, but United were unable to find a second as a stunning double save from Ederson denied Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata from snatching a point.
United’s third defeat of the season brings their 40-match unbeaten home run to an end while strengthening City’s grip on the title after just 16 matches.
Man Utd: De Gea (7), Rojo (5), Smalling (5), Valencia (5), Young (6), Herrera (5), Matic (5), Lingard (7), Rashford (7), Martial (6), Lukaku (4).
Subs: Lindelof (4), Mata (4), Ibrahimovic (4).
Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (7), Kompany (6), Otamendi (6), Delph (5), Fernandinho (6), Silva (7), Sterling (6), De Bruyne (6), Jesus (6), Sane (6).
Subs: Mangala (6), B.Silva (5), Gundogan (5).
Man of the Match: Kevin de Bruyne.
With an eight-point gap to bridge ahead of kick-off, the emphasis was on United to go after their neighbours, but the hosts spent the majority of the first half chasing a slick City side on the trail of a record 14th consecutive top-flight victory.
Tame efforts from Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and a deflected Silva effort drew David de Gea into comfortable saves, but City remained dominant against an anxious United outfit who rarely ventured out of their own half.
De Gea had to be alert to tip Leroy Sane’s near-post drive over on 42 minutes but, from the resulting corner, his defences were breached as Silva hooked the ball home from six yards after Lukaku failed to clear Kevin De Bruyne’s delivery.
Anthony Martial registered their first attempt on goal a minute later before a defensive lapse from Otamendi and Delph allowed Rashford to undo City’s hard work with a welcomed equaliser for the hosts.
United returned after the interval buoyant as their front four grew into the game, but City restored their lead within nine minutes as Lukaku’s poor clearance struck Chris Smalling and fell for Otamendi, who found the net for the second game running.
Ander Herrera came in for the suspended Paul Pogba while Victor Lindelof dropped out as United switched to a back four to accommodate Marcus Rashford in attack. Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho returned after City’s late victory over West Ham, while Gabriel Jesus was preferred to Sergio Aguero.
Jesse Lingard threaded Lukaku through on goal on 66 minutes but the Belgian failed to atone for his error as he fired over. His compatriot, De Bruyne, meanwhile did find the target two minutes later, but De Gea produced a fine save low to his right.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic entered the fray on 79 minutes and United pushed for an equaliser, but two point-blank saves from City stopper Ederson clinched a potentially defining victory in the race for the title.
Man City have won their last 14 league games in a row – the most by a team in a single English top-flight season.
This was just the second time a team has scored more than one goal in the Premier League at Old Trafford against Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho has lost nine matches in all competitions against Pep Guardiola, more than against any other manager.
Manchester United posted a 35% possession figure, their lowest at Old Trafford in the Premier League since 2003/04.
Nicolas Otamendi has netted four goals in 15 Premier League games this season, after scoring just two in his 60 games in the competition across the previous two campaigns.
Romelu Lukaku has scored just five goals in his last 40 Premier League appearances against the ‘big six’.
Man of the Match – Kevin De Bruyne
On a record-breaking outing for Manchester City, their Belgian midfielder’s influence was telling. City dominated possession from the get-go and chief to their superiority was the relentless pressing from De Bruyne, who ensured United could not get back into the game. When called upon, his final ball was typically flawless, leading to Lukaku’s errors in the build-up to Silva’s opener.
Jose Mourinho: “The referee made a mistake – it can happen. I feel sorry for Michael Oliver… Clear penalty. I am sorry for us, sorry for Michael [Oliver], I think he had a good performance, but it’s a clear penalty. I think they are a very good team, I think they are lucky, I think [they] have all the decisions in their favour, probably yes.”
Pep Guardiola: “The personality to play here is what I want. We can play this way in England. People said we couldn’t play the way we did in Barcelona in England but it is possible and we did it. I’m happy to go to Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford and to beat them in this way. This win means a lot in the way we played for our confidence. In December it’s impossible to be champions but it’s good for us.”
Gary Neville: “I thought City were a different level to United. The goals were scruffy, and Jose won’t believe they’ve conceded two goals from set pieces, but not many teams have come here in the last 25 or 30 years and dominated like that. You are talking about Barcelona or Real Madrid. Not many teams come here and do that.
“I even saw some United fans at the end clapping off the City manager and players. Seventy thousand United fans have walked out of there today thinking the best team have won. You can’t have too many complaints. It could have been three or four in the end.”
United return to Old Trafford on Wednesday for the visit of Bournemouth, while City will look to return to winning ways on the same evening when they travel to Swansea.
Source : http://www.skysports.com