MANCHESTER: Hosts Manchester United humiliated neighbours and Premier League champions City 4-2 in a table-turning derby drama at Old Trafford. That added up to a sixth successive league win for United against a City side who were ultimately overwhelmed despite opening the scoring.
Ander Herrera and Juan Mata in midfield, Wayne Rooney up front and Marouane Fellaini inbetween them were all magnficent. City were left looking like a team who need a thorough overhaul and, probably. a new manager along with it.
City struck first through Sergio Aguero with United’s defence all over the place but, after that, the hosts took over and struck back through Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini before half-time. Juan Mata and Chris Smalling added to City’s embarrassment midway through the second half.
City, despite a second and late goal for Aguero, thus suffered a fourth successive league defeat after succumbing to heavy pressure both during and game and ahead of it.
At the end of last year they had been in the Champions League knockout stage and leading the Premier table with United trailing in 10th. Since then, as City manager Manuel Pellegrini admitted, his team had “thrown their season into the garbage” while United had finally found something like the new identity Louis Van Gaal is demanding.
Van Gaal had been described on Friday by Diego Maradona on a trip to Colombia, as “like the devil” for not displaying more confidence in Radamel Falcao. Not that Van Gaal was worried. United had 11 points more than at the same stage last season while City had nine points fewer. All the signs were in his favour.
The match started with all the most appropriate passion of a high-class derby. Joe Hart saved bravely from Wayne Rooney at one end and then David De Gea defied Sergio Aguero. But Aguero’s seventh goal in eight derbies was not long in coming. He was unmarked in the centre of goal to tap City ahead in the eighth minute after David Silva escaped through the inside left position and crossed.
Six minutes later United, without deserving it at that point, were level. David De Gea thumped a long clearance to the left, Ander Herrera controlled and centred and Ashley Young – at second attempt – clipped the ball into the net.
After 27 minutes Young created United’s second goal with an angled cross from the left wing which Fellaini – Van Gaal’s unlikely hero in this second half of the season – met at the far post to head his sixth goal of the season.
The fuzzy-haired Belgian was a perpetual problem for City, finding a gap inbetween Vincent Kompany and the lethargic Yaya Toure. Indeed, Kompany was fortunate to be shown only a yellow card just before half-time for a lunging challenge on Daley Blind.
Kompany, to avoid a red card, was replaced at half-time by Eliaquim Mangala, without improvement. Mangala and Martin Demichelis were pulled apart as Mata collected Rooney’s pass on the left and arrowed in on goal in the 67th minute to fire United further ahead.
Five minutes later and Chris Smalling, unmarked, headed a fourth from Young’s left-wing free kick before Aguero’s late response . . . which even City’s own players did not bother to celebrate.
Chelsea forge on
** Chelsea maintained their seven-point Premier leed over Arsenal with a 1-0 derby win at Queens Park Rangers after Eden Hazard sent in Cesc Fabregas to score three minutes from time.
It was his first goal since December and Chelsea’s first serious goal effort on target. Struggling Rangers were unlucky after pressing for so much of the match.
Willian hit a post early on but just before half-time Thibaut Courtois dived right to make a fine save to a 25m drive from Charlie Austin. Then, on a Chelsea counter-attack, Cesc Fabregas headed over the bar from close range.