Manchester City took a big win on Saturday, as they defeated heated rivals Manchester United 2-1 in the derby at Old Trafford after goals by Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho. City stay perfect with four wins in four games, and tops the Premier League table.
City took command of the game in the first half, as they dominated possession and forced United to make errors when they finally did have the ball by pressing high. The away side took the lead in the 15th minute through Kevin De Bruyne who had an excellent game for City. The Belgian international got a breakaway after a flick by Kelechi Iheanacho and slotted the ball in behind David De Gea with a well-placed shot in the bottom left corner.
De Bruyne got the opportunity after a some poor defensive decisions by the United center back pairing of Eric Bailly and Daley Blind. Bailly failed to challenge Iheanacho in the air, whilst Blind was way out of position, which allowed De Bruyne to take a touch and be all alone with De Gea.
United looked a bit shell-shocked after the goal, and failed to get any foothold in the game. Wingers Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard were invisible and did a poor job of helping out in defense. Iheanacho made it 2-0 in the 36th minute after pouncing on a rebound after De Bruyne hit the post.
United got a lifeline shortly before halftime when Zlatan Ibrahimovic found the back of the net after an error by City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. The netminder, who was making his City debut, came out to handle the ball but ended up crashing into his own defender and spilled the ball to Ibrahimovic, who showed great composure to get the ball into the back of the net.
United looked a lot better in the second half, with Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford coming on at halftime to replace Mkhitaryan and Lingard. Ibrahimovic got a couple of good chances, but failed to add to his tally. The home side kept pushing and were a lot better on the ball in the second half, but City managed to hold on to get the three points, and their first win at Old Trafford since 2014.
United manager Jose Mourinho opted to start Mkhitaryan for the first time since his arrival in the summer from Borussia Dortmund, but with the Armenian international just coming back from injury, it turned out to be the wrong move as he looked extremely poor before getting subbed off at halftime. Blind also had a shocker, and it remains to be seen how long he can keep his place in the starting XI with Chris Smalling back healthy. Mourinho admitted that the poor performance in the first half cost them the game, but he also took a dig a referee Mark Clattenburg.
“I think we were punished by a lot of things. First thing: our first half – the way we started, some individual performances made the team look fragile,” Mourinho said. “We were also punished by two decisions of Mark [Clattenburg], because even the best referees can make mistakes and he made two mistakes. The first one is Bravo [on Rooney] – it’s a penalty and a red card. If any player does that outside the box, it’s a direct free-kick and a red card, so inside the box it’s a penalty and a red card.
“But the referee maybe thought of the consequences of that because the consequences would be a completely different game and he didn’t want to take that decision, which would be very important. And the second one is another penalty – Otamendi, with his elbow. He tries to stop the cross that’s going in front of him but the cross goes behind him, he’s looking to the ball and brings the arm and elbow back, and it’s another clear penalty. So we were also punished by that.”
United will have to try and rebound quickly if they are to keep up with City and Chelsea at the top of the table. They will travel to the Netherlands to take on Feyenoord in the Europa League opener on Thursday before meeting up with Watford in the league on Sunday. City takes on Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League on Tuesday before hosting Bournemouth on Saturday.