A dismal first-half performance consigned Manchester United to a 2-0 defeat by Manchester City at Old Trafford, their fourth defeat in six Premier League games.
After the nightmare of that 5-0 Liverpool defeat nearly a fortnight ago, it was looking ominous for United as City took the lead on seven minutes through Eric Bailly’s own goal as he stretched to intercept Joao Cancelo’s dangerous cross.
United could have gone level on points with City with a win, but the chasm between them at Old Trafford was enormous as the hosts put in another low-grade display that will put pressure back on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Manchester United rolled out the red carpet for City in the first half
David De Gea made no less than five excellent saves in seven first-half minutes as City peppered United’s goal, but the goalkeeper should have kept out Bernardo Silva’s poke at the most acute of angles just before the break from another Cancelo ball (45), though Luke Shaw was equally culpable for some slack defending.
United brought on Jadon Sancho at the break and at least stemmed the flow in a less eventful second half – Gary Neville said they “resembled a drunk bloke at the end of a night looking for a fight” on co-commentary – though City still missed fine chances for Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden.
Manchester United haven’t kept a home clean sheet since March
After a relatively stabilising week leading up to the derby, the heat is back on United and Solskjaer as they sit eight points off leaders Chelsea with just over a quarter of the season gone, a gap that could move to 11 points by 5pm on Saturday. City return to form domestically after two straight defeats, and sit second.
How classy City dominated timid United
Solskjaer said before the game he’d hoped his side had learned lessons from the humiliating Liverpool defeat, but just seven minutes in it was the same old story, another individual error costing them.
After United had cleared Kyle Walker’s dangerous cross, Bruno Fernandes gave Cancelo ample room to deliver another wicked delivery from the left, forcing Bailly to stretch for the ball at the near post. In doing so, his touch inadvertently sent the ball flying past his own goalkeeper and into the net. Once again, United’s clean sheet was ruined; they haven’t kept one at home since March.
Bailly OG gives City the lead!
While the debate rages on as to whether Ronaldo makes Manchester United a better side overall, his individual brilliance is rarely in doubt, and he nearly brought them level with a fierce volley from Luke Shaw’s cross, beaten away by Ederson. Otherwise, it was a quiet afternoon for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
The Soccer Saturday panel debate whether Cristiano Ronaldo makes Manchester United a better side or whether he’s a hindrance to their style of play.
That chance was a minor glitch in an otherwise dominant City first-half display, and they could have gone into the break with half a dozen goals. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was woefully out of position – “It’s absolute madness,” said Gary Neville on commentary – allowing Phil Foden to centre for Kevin de Bruyne; his low show was blocked by Shaw, before Gabriel Jesus’ rebound on the turn was brilliantly turned over by David de Gea.
It was a one-man stand from the goalkeeper, who did well to tip over Cancelo’s long-range effort as City found their flow again with ease, before getting a vital foot to prevent another own goal as Victor Lindelof miscued his clearance. De Gea was at it again during a flurry of City chances, tipping away De Bruyne’s curling shot and then blocking low down from Cancelo again.
The two-goal cushion did arrive just before the break with yet more rotten United defending as Cancelo’s delivery somehow found Bernardo at the far post, with Shaw acting as a mere spectator as he left the ball for the City man. His poke goalwards from near enough the byline squeezed into the net, though De Gea, punching the post in anger, should have done better.
Watch as Manchester City go 2-0 ahead at Manchester United following mistakes by David de Gea and Luke Shaw.
“I give up on these players,” said Roy Keane at half-time as he analysed De Gea and Shaw’s part in the second goal, but Solskjaer tried to change things at half-time as they ditched the back three and brought Jadon Sancho on. Meanwhile, City were comfortable enough to keep their GBP100m summer signing Jack Grealish on the bench.
Roy Keane didn’t hold back in his criticism of Manchester United’s defending in the first half of the Manchester derby.
United did improve in the second half – the change of shape meant their full-backs were no longer pinned back to the same degree – but City also moved down a gear.
In fact, they were comfortable enough not to make a single substitution at Old Trafford, and still looked more likely to score the third goal.
Bruno Fernandes looks dejected after City’s opener
Ilkay Gundogan hit the side-netting from an angle, De Bruyne sliced wide as the ball fell kindly to him at the far post, and Phil Foden came closest as he grazed the far post with a low shot from inside the box.
Man Utd made three changes; Victor Lindelof returned from a knock to replace the injured Raphael Varane in a back three, with Fred playing instead of the suspended Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood coming in for Marcus Rashford. Edinson Cavani was missing with an injury.
Kyle Walker was passed fit for Man City, who named record signing Jack Grealish on the bench. Kevin De Bruyne returned to the starting line-up after being among the substitutes for the midweek win over Club Brugge. Ruben Dias replaced the suspended Aymeric Laporte and Gabriel Jesus started up front.
United ended the game with only one shot on target and 32 per cent possession, another sub-standard showing in a season that had promised so much.
The jeers that met the full-time whistle are becoming more common place at Old Trafford, but City were lapping it up as they reminded the Premier League why they are still favourites to retain their title despite a testing fortnight.
After the international break, Man Utd travel to Watford in the Premier League on Saturday November 20; kick-off 3pm.
Meanwhile, Man City are back in action on Sunday November 21 when they host Everton, live on Super Sunday on Sky Sports; kick-off 2pm.