Manchester City’s Premier League title challenge took a hit today after they were beaten 2-1 by local rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.
After a cagey opening period Manchester United would have the first sight of goal when their skipper Bruno Fernandes dragged a shot wide from a tight angle.
Erik Ten Hag’s tactical set-up of essentially man-marking Kevin de Bruyne with Fred seemed to be nullifying the Belgian and in turn Man City’s other attacking players. However, Erling Haaland did eventually get a sniff of goal on 23 minutes when he found himself free in the area 12 yards out, but Casemiro was on hand to block the Norweigan’s effort.
On 33 minutes United’s on-fire attacker Marcus Rashford got in behind the Man City defence and rounded ‘keeper Ederson but his tame effort was blocked on the line by Manuel Akanji.
Soon after Rashford once again found himself bearing down on goal from a Christian Eriksen pass, although this time Ederson got it right and got down well to snuff out the chance.
It became clear after the break that Pep Guardiola’s side was growing into the game; finding space and building pressure. Then on the hour mark when De Bruyne finally found himself in space he made United pay, the playmaker’s delightful clipped cross headed home by substitute Jack Grealish.
Man United were struggling to match the levels they reached during the opening period, but then out of nowhere, the Red Devils would equalise in the 78th minute. Rashford intelligently avoided making contact with a Casemiro through ball – as he was offside – and Fernandes raced onto it before confidently curling past the onrushing Ederson.
Pep Guardiola on Man United’s first goal 👀 pic.twitter.com/0rufrp4uPj
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) January 14, 2023
Then with the home crowd roaring them on United would completely turn the game on its head by taking the lead. A break down the left ended with lively teenager Alejandro Garnacho squaring the ball across the six-yard box and Rashford was on hand to fire home his seventh goal in his last seventh games.
City pushed on in search of an equaliser but United defended manfully and stopped the visitors from creating any clear-cut chances.
Speaking afterwards City boss Pep Guardiola insisted he was really happy with his sides display despite the costly defeat.
“The game was really good,” the City coach told BT Sport. ”We played good. They are incredible in transitions. Congratulations to the team. I’m proud to come here and play with this personality. They punished us in transitions.”
“We missed a little bit of threat up front, a bit disconnected. We make a fantastic game.
“I don’t care in the Premier League and Carabao Cup. We won a lot. It’s not a problem. Carabao Cup is out, it doesn’t matter.”