Manchester United ended Manchester City’s stunning 21-game winning run at the Etihad Stadium to keep the title race just about alive.
It will still take a serious run of form from United and City collapse for Pep Guardiola’s men to not regain their crown – but the Reds have at least made that option a slim possibility.
United made the perfect start, with Anthony Martial winning a penalty inside a minute, and Bruno Fernandes duly dispatching from 12 yards.
The lead was doubled just after the restart as Luke Shaw exchanged passes with Marcus Rashford – after a driving run – and fired low into the far corner to seal a 2-0 win.
While City are still firm favourites for the Premier League title, that defeat has closed the gap at the top of the table to 11 points.
Here’s how the national media reported the game.
After Bruno Fernandes scored he slid on his knees in celebration, covering his ears with his hands. Was it a pointed response to the loud criticism that he has been ineffective against the so-called ‘Big Six’ or was it a gesture to silence those noisy neighbours?
Maybe it was both. Maybe it was neither with Fernandes later saying it was in tribute to his children, although possibly that was more in reference to him going on to suck his thumb. Whatever the reason something had to give in this Manchester derby and, in the end, it was Manchester City’s hopes of extending their record of 21 successive victories. There will surely be another Premier League title this season for Pep Guardiola but there will not be a new world record compounded by the irritation of it being United who not just stopped them but beat them. Welsh side The New Saints (with 27 wins) can sleep easy.
United claimed a famous, surprising but deserved victory and continued their run away from home to a formidable 22 league games unbeaten. More importantly they returned to second in the table, bolstering their hopes of securing Champions League qualification and also set a standard they have to maintain if they are going to properly challenge next season. For them this has to be the marker; not the one-off.
If there is to be a title race this season, someone was always going to have to show that Manchester City could be beaten. And if you want something doing, the saying goes, do it yourself.
So Manchester United did. They ended City’s run of 21 games victorious, extended their own run of unbeaten away matches to 22, and made it three in a row at the Etihad Stadium.
No manager has ever won three straight away games against Pep Guardiola, so kudos to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for that, too. This win belonged to him as much as his players.
Joao Cancelo has been one of the mainstays of City’s procession this season but was removed, ineffectual, with half an hour to go. The decision to allow David De Gea paternity leave and give Dean Henderson a run was thoroughly vindicated, too. Henderson was outstanding and the architect of Manchester United’s second goal.
Solskjaer’s tactics against the best teams have been derided of late, but he got this one right. Fred was outstanding in midfield. So too Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw, United’s full backs.
It may have come too late to make a difference in the title race, but there is no doubting this was a massive victory for United.
After a number of dull, overly conservative encounters against their ‘Big Six’ rivals this season, United’s pacey counter-attacking put City to the sword this afternoon as they showed just what they can do.
And if anything is to give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side confidence going forward, ending their bitter enemy’s stunning winning run in their own back yard will do it.
This win will give United belief that on their day they can beat anyone, and if anything may leave them regretting not showing such ambition in some other encounters this season.
If they had done, the title race could have been well and truly alive right now.
Maybe next season…
Free Manchester United newsletter
Manchester United secured a memorable 2-0 derby victory over Man City at the Etihad Stadium.
Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw scored the goals to clinch an unexpected, but empathic, victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s troops against the league leaders.
MEN Sport will bring you all the build-up to and reaction from every United match. You can have it all delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our daily newsletter. Just put your email address in the sign-up box at the top of this article, or simply follow this link. It’s free and only takes a few seconds.
There was nothing on, seemingly, for Manchester United. Dean Henderson had the ball in his hands and Manchester City were in their defensive shape. City felt their rivals were time-wasting as they led in the early exchanges of the second half through Bruno Fernandes’s second-minute penalty. “Get on with it,” came the cry from the City ranks.
So United did. Or, more precisely, Luke Shaw did. Henderson, beginning a mini-run in the team with David de Gea on paternity leave, threw out to the left flank and Shaw had only one thought – to rumble upfield. A touch on his chest took him away from João Cancelo and he had too much pace for Kevin De Bruyne. Up to the edge of the City penalty area, Shaw swapped passes with Marcus Rashford before getting the ball out of his feet and directing a low shot into the far corner.
The left-back had been a selection concern because of an injury niggle but his first goal since last March swung this derby decisively in United’s favour, extending their club record unbeaten run away from home in the Premier League to 22 games and torpedoing City’s sequence of 21 straight wins in all competitions. It was City’s first defeat in 29 games.
It will most likely not alter the destination of the league title, which still seems bound for City, who retain an 11-point cushion at the top; the greater significance probably lay in United firing their hopes of a Champions League finish. But they will still enjoy getting the better of their neighbours and proving that, when they can execute Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s gameplan, there are reasons for optimism.