The glimmer of a title race? Maybe, squinting at the horizon with a telescope, we can see one.
It’s still 11 points between Manchester City and the rest and, come the end of the season, the bragging rights are likely to be with the team in blue but – this morning at least – Manchester is again red. This was an impressive win for United; goals at the start of each half and stout resistance the remainder of the team. Joao Cancelo, one of the mainstays of City’s 21 game winning run, was removed with an hour to go. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tactics against the best teams have been derided of late, but he got this right.
Fred was outstanding in midfield. So too Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw, United’s full-backs. And Dean Henderson was outstanding in goal. It was Henderson and Shaw who combined so expertly for the all-important second.
Luke Shaw celebrates after scoring Manchester United’s second goal against Manchester City on Sunday afternoon
Shaw found the bottom right corner with a low strike after exchanging passes with team-mate Marcus Rashford on the left
The English full-back (R) watches on as his shot makes its way into the bottom corner to double his side’s lead
Shaw is congratulated by his United team-mates after doubling the scoring his third goal for the Manchester club
It came after 49 minutes, at a time when most were expecting a City onslaught to be the narrative of the second-half. It still was, in many ways, but the challenge doubled once Shaw got his first goal of the season.
Henderson started it with a lovely pin-point throw that sent the left-back away. He made enormous ground, tearing 50 yards downfield before exchanging passes with Marcus Rashford. The ball returned, Shaw saw a gap and struck it low. Ederson was either unsighted or in shock. He stood flat-footed, as the ball found the far corner of the net.
If Anthony Martial was a finisher, United could have had this game done. He had a clear header at the far post after a deflected cross, but utterly misread it, and was left one on one after a tangle between Ruben Dias and Scott McTominay, but shot straight at Ederson.
Of course, City had their moments, but Raheem Sterling’s technique let him down again with the goal open at the far post and Phil Foden had a shot on the turn fly just wide. City’s record is over, pegged at 21. Manchester United continue to thrive away. It might not be enough to make up 11 points – but if there is to be a challenge, someone had to show City were beatable. And if you want something done properly, do it yourself.
United were awarded a penalty in the first minute when Gabriel Jesus (L) clumsily fouled Anthony Martial inside the box
Martial was not in a particularly dangerous position but Jesus was unable to avoid making contact with the forward
Bruno Fernandes then dispatched the spot-kick to give the visitors an extremely early lead in the Manchester derby
City goalkeeper Ederson got a hand to the strike but couldn’t prevent it making its way into the bottom left corner of the goal
Fernandes celebrates after breaking the deadlock in Sunday’s Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium
Scroll down to see how it all unfolded with Sportsmail’s live runner.