Manchester City returned to the top of the table after dispatching Manchester United in the derby at Etihad Stadium on Sunday. Goals from David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan sealed the match after Anthony Martial’s penalty had threatened a United comeback.
The blues had been displaced at the top of the league earlier in the day when Liverpool beat Fulham 2-0 at Anfield, and they were boosted when Everton held Chelsea to a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge.
After losing last season’s home derby to United after being 2-0 up, the blues had every reason to be wary of United, more so as the reds have been stronger in the second half of their recent games, snatching last minute winners at Bournemouth last weekend and Juventus in midweek. In contrast City, who had scored twelve goals in their last two games, have generally tended to blow teams away in the first half before relaxing a little in the second half.
But the undefeated blues started like they wanted to put the game to bed before half time, and flew out of the blocks, attacking United from the off, and it was no surprise when City took the lead after just twelve minutes through Silva. The blues continued to press with high intensity, barely giving United a touch of the ball, never mind a sniff at goal. But as the match went on, City slowed it down and United started to come back into it.
The blues still pressed and Aguero missed an opportunity to make it 2-0 when his shot hit the side netting and as the blues went in at the break with just a one goal advantage, the fans will have been forgiven for thinking the second half would be a nervy affair.
United have recently make some big second half comebacks, but Aguero’s goal, three minutes into the second half seemed to calm the nerves, and give manager Pep Guardiola the chance of his first home derby win. Aguero, who has scored seven goals against United, hit his eighth against the reds when his rising shot flew past de Gea for 2-0.
That should have been the goal that took the wind out of United’s sails, but ten minutes later, the visitors were handed a lifeline. For the second league game in succession, goalkeeper Ederson gave away a needless penalty when he upended substitute Romelu Lukaku. Anthony Martial sent the keeper the wrong way and suddenly, the nerves returned and memories of last season’s 3-2 defeat came flooding back.
In truth, City never looked in danger of surrendering the lead, but they made the fans sweat and continued to miss chances to make the game safe, and the longer it went on, the more hope United gained, until the blues shattered them four minutes from time. And was it a goal worth waiting for. A move that started on the edge of the United box, worked its way across the field, and briefly into the City half. With United chasing shadows, City completed the 44 pass move with a cross the Gundogan, who controlled and calmly finished to secure the points.
It was no more than City deserved as they returned to the Premier League’s summit in style, two points clear of Liverpool and four clear of Chelsea in the race for the title, and ensuring Manchester remained Blue!
With no midweek game for the first time in a while, and another international break, next up for City is a trip to East London and a match against Pablo Zabaleta’s West Ham on Saturday 24th with a 3pm kick-off.