This was the match everyone had been waiting for. The battle of the titans, the battle of Manchester, the battle of Pep Guardiola vs Jose Mourinho. Both teams wanted to win, as the scoreline will eventually have some bearing on who’ll win the premier league this season.
Mourinho benched Mata, and surprisingly Rashford and started Lingard in the English youngster’s place. Guardiola opted to start Kelechi Iheanacho for the suspended Aguero. Man City started with much more possession and passes and got their reward in the 15th minute as a headed pass from Iheanacho found Kevin De Bruyne who made Daley Blind look like an amateur defender as he left him in his wake and then slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.
Man U 0- 1 Man City.
Mkhitaryan was flagged for offside as he chased the ball through the centre. He didn’t hear the whistle,and went down under a challenge from Claudio Bravo to appeal for a penalty, but none was forthcoming. Man U was being outnumbered in the midfield department and had withdrawn into their own half at the first 30 minutes. Valencia was targeted as a weakness and was run ragged. Man City players were dominating, Man U had no answer. Lingard and Mkhitaryan were lazy, slow and poignant on the ball and their final thought process was lacking.
Then in the 36th minute, Man U’s old Trafford supporters were stunned. United’s defenders stood motionless as Kevin De Bruyne picked up the ball in the penalty area and fired towards the bottom left-hand corner. The ball hit the foot of the upright and rebounded to Iheanacho who then slotted into the open net, a goal that might have been ruled as offside.
Man U 0-2 Man City.
Then in the 42nd minute , the unexpected happened.
Claudio Bravo Man City’s new goalkeeper under pressure from John Stones, flapped at the ball and it broke to Zlatan Ibrahimovic who volleyed the ball into the net from a very tight angle. Only a very good footballer could shoot at first touch and score from such a tight angle. Nice one Zlat!
Man U 1-2 Man City.
Man U tried to score again and Bravo made another mistake but Ibrahimovic could only play a tame shot directly to the post.
The second half started with two changes as predicted. Jose Mourinho introduced Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera for Mhikitaryan and Lingard who were sloppy and ineffective in the first half.
Immediately Rashford swung into action, went through the left wing and gave a pass to Ibrahimovic which the Swede shot off target.
Man U seemed more confident and it seemed whatever Mourinho told his players at half time worked.
Valencia was charging through the right while Rashford was menacing through the left.
It was now wonderful end to end football, a pleasant spectacle for the neutrals.
Man U attacked and defended , Man City attacked and defended.
De Gea created wonderful play and sent Rashford gadding down the left flank with a wonderful pass. His attempt to pick out Ibrahimovic with a fine cross was cut out by Fernando’s crucial interception.
Mourinho then introduced Martial for Shaw, Mourinho not wanting to lose this match took initiative and played with three defenders , with Rashford now playing centrally alongside Ibrahimovic while Martial played through the left interchanging at times to the right.
Mourinho wanted to win this, the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson could be seen nodding his head in disapproval, he couldn’t believe the scoreline.
90 minutes with 5 minutes additional time. Mourinho was here fighting for a draw, Guardiola could feel a win, he had it in sight.
Counter attacking move- Rashford to Rooney to Valencia to Pogba to Ibrahimovic whose shot was deflected for a corner.
93 minutes- two minutes to go.
United were on the ascendancy and Rooney decided to launch a free-kick, Fellaini to Ibrahimovic to Pogba, the keeper Bravo scrambled for the ball, could this be the last chance, Stones was seen controlling the defence line.
End! Manchester has been painted in full blue, at least till next year.
Man City have now won four wins in four games, one could say City were worthy winners.
Full time : Man U 1-2 Man City.
Mourinho 0- 1 Guardiola