United stop rot in Manchester derby with emphatic win over City
Ashley Young starred in the Manchester derby, as United moved clear of Premier League champions City in third place with a dominant 4-2 win at Old Trafford.
A goal and two assists from ex-England winger Young helped the Red Devils turn things around on their neighbours. City had won four derbies on the spin and led early on through Sergio Aguero with their hosts making the worst possible start at Old Trafford.
Manuel Pellegrini saw the Citizens’ lead last just six minutes, however, as a defensive horror show from his charges ensued. Young netted a scrappy equaliser when Gael Clichy failed to cut out an Ander Herrera cross.
United completed the comeback before half an hour with Marouane Fellaini heading home a Young cross, following good work by Daley Blind up from left back, and surviving a hint of offside.
City skipper Vincent Kompany was fortunate to escape an early bath for a stud-showing lunge on Blind’s shin, but referee Mark Clatenburg showed clemency and just cautioned the Belgium centre back.
Pellegrini withdrew Kompany at half-time, but expensive replacement Eliaquim Mangala fared little better. With a quarter of the game to go, United extended their lead when Red Devils captain Wayne Rooney fed Juan Mata on the turn.
Martin Demichelis, who will draw criticism for getting up after Clattenburg stopped the game for a head injury when Fellaini clashed with the Argentine, was caught way out of position here. Mata ran into the vacated space, surviving offside appeals and firing through the exposed Joe Hart.
Chris Smalling, at fault for Aguero’s opener and villain in the reverse fixture for his sending off at the Eithad, redeemed himself by sealing victory with 17 minutes to go. He nodded in Young’s free-kick, popping up between Demichelis and Mangala.
There was still time for Pellegrini’s men to net a late consolation when Aguero swept home fellow Argentina international Pablo Zabaleta’s cutback.
Awesome Aguero, who has now racked up a century of City goals in just 158 outings, is the only player to emerge from this derby day defeat with any credit. Yaya Toure was anonymous in midfield, outclassed by Michael Carrick until he limped off injured when United had made all three subs.
Hart was let down by his defence big time here, but may have been able to do more about goals two and three. Louis van Gaal looks like achieving his mission of returning Champions League football to Old Trafford, with United now enjoying a nine-point cushion in a top four place.
City coach Pellegrini’s job prospects get bleaker with each terrible result; six defeats in eight now. Manchester will remain a footballing city for punters to keep a very close eye on this summer, despite the divide.