An Aguero-less Manchester City put on a commanding performance at the Old Trafford to beat Manchester United 1-2 in the much-awaited Manchester Derby on Saturday. Kevin De Bruyne scored the opener and created the second to guide City to their 50th derby win against United in all competitions.
Manchester City went into the derby without either of Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, and Sergio Aguero for the first time since Sept 2009. Their Argentine striker is serving a ban, which gave Iheanacho the chance to lead the line for the big clash. Claudio Bravo also made his debut in this match with Hart shipped off to Italy. Leroy Sane, Ilkay Gundogan, and Bacary Sagna were all given the green signal to feature in this game having recovered from their fitness concerns. Vincent Kompany, though, still remains out of contention.
The home side went into the game with a fully fit squad. Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan had all regained their fitness and found themselves in the starting lineup. Marouane Fellaini, who overcame a back injury to play for Belgium on Tuesday, featured alongside Paul Pogba in the midfield.
For all their fancy passing, Pep Guardiola's men took the lead through route one football. A diagonal pass from Aleksander Kolarov at the back was headed on by Iheanacho. De Bruyne stole the ball on the bounce before Blind could intercept it, and the midfielder was through on goal with only David de Gea to beat. De Bruyne kept his calm and slotted it past the onrushing goalkeeper to score his first goal of this season and give his team a well-deserved 0-1 lead in the 15th minute.
City dominated the ball after taking the lead, and United's only memorable moment was delivered by a long shot from Pogba after a delightful cross-field pass from Rooney. However, City soon doubled their lead in the 36th minute.
De Bruyne received the ball, this time on the right wing, and he drifted in while dribbling past a couple of Manchester United defenders. The 25-year-old then unleashed a low shot towards the far post and de Gea remained rooted to his ground. The ball struck the post and rebounded towards Iheanacho in front of the goal. All of the United defenders stood still expecting the flag to be raised, but that never happened. Iheanacho put the ball past de Gea and much to his surprise, the goal stood.
Just when it seemed like Man City were running away with the derby, United were handed over a lifeline by Claudio Bravo in the 42nd minute the former Barcelona goalkeeper came off his line to deal with Rooney's delivery from a free kick on the right wing, but he only managed to punch it, tamely, towards Zlatan inside the box. The striker volleyed the ball into the net with a fantastic finish and pulled one back for his team just before the halftime.
Bravo nearly handed over the
Trailing the match 1-2 at halftime, Jose Mourinho rang in the changes at the start of the second half. He brought on Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard, who were both disappointing in the first half. Pep Guardiola replied with a couple of changes of his own by bringing on Fernando and the exciting Leroy Sane for Iheanacho and Sterling respectively.
Rashford nearly made an immediate impact on the game. In the 70th minute, he drove down the left wing before cutting in a driving a low shot towards the near post. However, unlikely for him, his shot deflected off Zlatan, who had
Meanwhile, De Bruyne continued to trouble United at the other end of the pitch, and this time, he had the pace of Sane for company. The duo kept United honest and created a host of chances. However, City failed to increase their lead, and this led to some tense defending in the closing minutes of the match. But United failed to break through and the match ended in a 1-2 win for the visitors, as Pep Guardiola drew first blood against Jose Mourinho.
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