Manchester City stamp their authority on Manchester United with victory
Pep Guardiola's 14th successive win equals Arsenal's record for most wins in a row in the Premier League as they move 11 points clear of Jose Mourinho's men.
History for Manchester City, misery for Manchester United.
The league leaders equalled a Premier League record by reeling off a 14th consecutive win to go 11 points clear.
In the process, they rendered it implausible that Jose Mourinho will continue his impeccable habit of winning the title in his second season everywhere.
Instead, there was a different kind of second: United had only lost one previous home game under the Portuguese. That was also to City and also finished 2-1.
Fifteen months later, a 40-game unbeaten run at Old Trafford ended, along with a 100 per cent home record this season. This furthered the impression that Pep Guardiola is Mourinho’s nemesis. He even won with the sort of goals Mourinho’s side were expected to score.
If much was predictable, from City’s domination of possession to United’s initial defensiveness, the manner of the scrappy strikes brought the surprise. In the process, they tripled the number of league goals United have conceded on their own turf this season.
It was a game that always promised a set-piece goal, but probably for a much taller United side.
Instead City struck in unexpected fashion twice. Each involved United’s giant striker Romelu Lukaku. Starved of touches in the City box, he had two telling ones in his own penalty area and recorded an assist for the opener.
The first came from a corner. It was taken by Kevin de Bruyne and met by Lukaku. His header fell to David Silva, who hooked the ball in.
The Spaniard played a part when City restored their lead. Lukaku attempted to clear Silva’s free kick, but succeeded only in striking the ball against his colleague Chris Smalling and saw Nicolas Otamendi bundle in the rebound.
Sandwiched by those strikes, United had a brief taste of parity. The left half of Guardiola’s defence was found wanting when Mourinho’s men drew level, Otamendi missing a header and Fabian Delph failing to react as the ball reached Marcus Rashford, who netted.
Ederson denied Rashford a second equaliser by pushing a stinging drive wide. Ander Herrera’s efforts to secure another goal were less laudable and he was booked for what was deemed a dive. Lukaku had fired wide as he sought redemption. He came closer still to recording a rare goal against top opponents.
When Anthony Martial centred, his shot struck Ederson in the face before the Brazilian recovered to stop Juan Mata’s effort.
It amounted to a brilliant double save and formed a contrast with Claudio Bravo, who endured a traumatic debut at Old Trafford last season.
It also came at a time when United were finally taking risks to attack. Before then, the visitors were the more progressive side.
The City supporters, mocking Mourinho’s tactics, chorused “park the bus.”
The Portuguese had named four quick players charged with catching City on the break. Yet, with opportunities scarce at that point, it amounted to negativity with positive players.
Perhaps it would have been different were Paul Pogba available, but City lost the injured Vincent Kompany and ended with Elaiquim Mangala in defence.
He is scarcely a perfect Guardiola player, but this was a wonderful result for the Catalan.
Published: December 10, 2017 10:58 PM