Marcus Rashford scored the winner in his first Manchester derby as Manchester United secured a 1-0 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium this afternoon.
Rashford gave Man United a dream start to the match when he skipped past Martin Demichelis and tucked the ball home past Joe Hart. In response, Yaya Toure’s effort fizzed just wide of David de Gea’s post. Rashford then had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down just before the break as Demichelis knocked him over in the box.
In the second half, Sergio Aguero hit the post for City with a header as they searched for an equaliser. Wilfried Bony then spurned a good opportunity for the hosts following a spell of sustained pressure. They couldn’t get the equaliser, meaning United secured a huge three points in the race to qualify for the Champions League next season.
There had been murmurs before the game that it was time for Rashford to be dropped but he answered his critics in resounding style by grabbing the game’s opening goal.
Latching onto Juan Mata’s pass, Rashford poked the ball past Demichelis before cooly slotting the ball into the net. It was a moment of composure and class and one that was remarkable given the 18-year-old’s age and relative inexperience. For Rashford, born in Wythenshawe and playing in his first derby, it was a goal he’ll never forget.
Lingard started in the No.10 position behind Rashford and he caused City plenty of problems with some direct running and movement.
While he is limited in terms of his creativity, Lingard’s intelligence on the pitch often gives him an edge over the opposition and that proved to be the case at the Etihad.
Moments before the half-time whistle sounded, United had a huge shout for a penalty turned down when Demichelis bungled over Rashford in the box.
The Argentine defender was proving to be a liability for City as he failed to cope with Rashford’s pace but Michael Oliver did not see the incident as a foul and he ignored United’s appeals. Demichelis, meanwhile, was too busy accusing Rashford of diving. Pathetic.
United enjoyed an encouraging first half but Darmian would have been disappointed with his display, with his crossing in particular a source of concern.
Louis van Gaal eventually shifted the Italian to left-back, which seemed to help him. Darmian has certainly stalled in terms of his progression and he needs to be much better going forward.
Back in the race for the top four?
The win lifted United to within one point of City in the Premier League table and the possibility of a top four finish is now back on the table.
United did exactly what they had to do at the Etihad. City, meanwhile, looked devoid of ideas. With Vincent Kompany and now Joe Hart out for Manuel Pellegrini’s side, can United sneak into fourth?