Celtic 3 Manchester City 3
Cross Border Skirmish
Wednesday 28th September 2016 : Dan Kelly for
GYKO at Park Head
As Manchester City’s
flying form under Pep Guardiola moved from bright beginning into a
stellar 10 consecutive wins, the manager’s mantra remained that vast
improvement was still required.
In the build-up to the club’s first competitive outing on Scottish
soil he was at it again. “Football is a process and my happiness is
to see the team getting better. Maybe small steps but getting
better. That is what I want,” Guardiola said this week.
So as City strove for the “little record” of matching Tottenham
Hotspur’s 11 victories on the bounce, which initiated their 1960-61
Double-winning campaign, the search was on for the small steps
demanded by the uber-perfectionist head coach.
Celtic end Manchester City’s winning run with thrilling Champions
What he saw unfold at Celtic Park was a dogfight that was the
sternest test yet of his City project and which should allow it to
grow as Guardiola desires.
The Catalan was allowed only three minutes before dismay may have
swept through him. This was the time required for Brendan Rodgers’s
team to take the lead through Moussa Dembélé and become the first
opposition to open the scoring against Guardiola’s men since he took
over. It rocked City and proved the highlight of a Celtic onslaught
that lasted 10 minutes as Kolo Touré nearly doubled the lead and the
home crowd were at fever pitch. And it proved the first phase of a
night-long examination of City’s backbone.
Guardiola had spoken of how defeat or its prospect is bound to come
at some point and how his team responds will be vital. He wants City
to possess the “stability” to deal with reverses and show the kind
of unshakeable character that he would like to foster in his squad.
Eight minutes were required to give Guardiola a clue to all of this.
Seven were spent weathering the early storm. The other two involved
City mounting a first attack – David Silva went through but could
not finish – and then securing an equaliser from Fernandinho.
Maybe City would now be rampant and coast through this second Group
C match. It seemed the obvious corollary of the way Guardiola’s men
have previously cuffed away any opponent who dared to offer
Celtic, though, had the temerity to buck this pattern by again
pulling into the lead and again rocking City. This time Raheem
Sterling was admirable in popping up at right-back near Claudio
Bravo’s goal and unlucky to turn the ball past his own keeper.
City were embroiled in a genuine tear-up and there were clues all
over the Celtic Park turf. An illustration came when the classy
Ilkay Gündogan presented a collector’s item by making the wrong
choice near Craig Gordon’s area and ceded possession. Another was in
the way Fernandinho and Aleksandar Kolarov – two standout performers
thus far for Guardiola – endured some shaky and difficult moments.
If City have been a team in which each and every player has improved
markedly in the Catalan’s school, Sterling has a case for being
Guardiola’s star pupil.
In the 3-1 win at Swansea on Saturday he netted a sublime goal via
mesmeric footwork. It involved, too, the composure he is supposed to
lack. To score City’s second equaliser Sterling produced a near
carbon copy of Fred Astaire footwork and cold-eyed calm as he
finished past Gordon eight minutes after his own goal.
The high-octane entertainment the fans were being served up hardly
slackened after the break, as Kolarov’s night plunged into
mini-nightmare territory with the error that allowed Dembélé to hook
in his second goal of the night
This surely wrecked any interval words Guardiola offered his charges
as it came only just over a minute into the second half. It meant
the 11 men sent out by the coach were dealing with an uncomfortable
and totally foreign in-game scenario: the very real prospect of a
defeat against an outfit whose last outing in the Champions League
had been the 7-0 hiding given them at the Camp Nou by Barcelona.
City’s response was to take less than 10 minutes to draw level again
as Nolito provided a third equaliser of what had proved a pulsating
Before the match Rodgers had said: “It’s a great challenge of us.
We’re really looking forward to the game.”
Celtic played like they did and enjoyed a result deserving of their
willingness to take the scrap to City’s gilded talents. They
actually did more: they made the game a scrap. And in doing so the
Scottish side found a way of disrupting the smooth and ruthless
killing machine that had vanquished its 10 previous foes.
City’s rivals may take note of this match. They may strive to
emulate the number Celtic managed to do on them. But they should
also be wary of how Guardiola’s side went toe-to-toe with Celtic and
refused to be downed. And, how, in Guardiola, City have a coach who
is sure to plot how best to avoid this occurring again.
Teams Celtic: Gordon, Lustig, Toure,
Sviatchenko, Tierney, Bitton, Brown, Forrest, Rogic, Sinclair,
Subs: De Vries, Simunovic, Griffiths, Gamboa, Armstrong, Roberts,
Man City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Otamendi, Kolarov, Clichy, Fernandinho,
Gundogan, Silva (C), Sterling, Nolito, Aguero
Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Stones, Sane, Navas, Iheanacho, Fernando
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (ITA)
Swansea City 1 Manchester City 3
Saturday 24th September 2016 : Dylan Thomas
for GYKO at the Liberty Stadium
goals from Sergio Aguero and a fourth league goal of the season for
Raheem Sterling made it 10 wins in as many games for Manchester
Having been ruled out of the previous three games due to suspension,
Aguero returned to score twice in yet another victory for Pep
The first came inside eight minutes. The second, a penalty, came 26
minutes from time. Sterling killed off any feint hopes Swansea might
have had with a third, 13 minutes from time.
After a slick start, the visitors took the lead in the eighth
minute. A swift move on the right, a clever turn from Aguero and the
visitors were a goal to the good.
Swansea huffed and puffed, as they did in the EFL Cup game in
midweek. However, they came close to levelling matters in the 12th
minute when Kyle Naughton forced Claudio Bravo into a decent save,
before City cleared. A minute later and the Swans were level. Gylfi
Sigurdsson poked a ball through to Llorente, who duly beat Bravo
with a stunning volley from 16 yards.
When the dust settled on the Spaniard's goal, normal order was
restored, as far as City were concerned. Swansea dropped deeper and
deeper and Aguero sent in three crosses that had Lukasz Fabianski
requesting greater protection from his back four.
With the ball at their feet, Swansea showed decent quality. They
were confident in moving through the gears and lacked only one
aspect – the final delivery.
Still, it was enough to keep City on their toes. Bacary Sagna was
shown the yellow card for man-handling Kyle Naughton and Raheem
Sterling was fortunate to escape similar punishment when he tripped
Although Swansea were causing one or two problems at the right end,
they almost conceded a second 11 minutes from half time. Kevin de
Bruyne was sent through by Ilkay Gundogan, but with only Fabianski
to beat, the Belgian hooked his shot well wide.
A booking for David Silva, for dissent, was greeted with loud cheers
from the Swansea supporters who, after an exacting start to the
season, were beginning to see some light.
For City, there was growing frustration. They dominated the ball for
long periods but struggled to break down Swansea's resolute back
four, led ably by Jordi Amat.
The second half was barely two minutes old when Swansea had a golden
opportunity to edge themselves infront. Routledge found himself in
acres of space, but, inexplicably, chose to dissect Bravo's far post
and Fernando Llorente with a ball that rolled harmlessly out of
Five minutes later, the imperious Sigurdsson sent a crisp volley
high and wide after Routledge had picked out the Icelandic
midfielder with a lobbed pass of real quality.
At the opposite end, it was Aguero who came close to restoring
City's lead. A smart move involving Gundogan and Silva ended with
Aguero shooting over via the foot of van der Hoorn. Sterling was
then too tentative with a shot from 12 yards after another sweeping
The breakthrough came in the 64th minute when van der Hoorn was seen
sending an elbow into the face of De Bruyne. Referee Neil Swarbrick
had no hesitation in yellow carding the Dutchman, and Aguero, with a
cheeky chip, did the rest from the spot.
The game was up for Swansea when Sterling, on the counter attack,
kept his composure and beat Fabianski with a wonderful finish late
into the game.
Swansea: Fabianski 6, Rangel 6, Van der Hoorn 5,
Amat 6, Naughton 6, Britton 6, Cork 7, Sigurdsson 6, Fer 6,
Routledge 6, Llorente 7
Subs: Ki (Cork 73) 6, Barrow (Routledge 73) 7, Borja (Britton 79) 6
Man City : Bravo 7, Sagna 7, Otamendi 7, Stones 7, Kolarov 7,
Fernandinho 7, Sterling 8, Gündogan 7, Silva 8, De Bruyne 7, Agüero
8 - MOTM
Subs: Fernando (Gundogan 68) 6, Zabaleta (Sagna 78) 6, Navas (De
Bruyne 81) 6
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Swansea City 1 Manchester City 2
Swans Wings Clipped
Wednesday 21st September 2016 : Dylan
Thomas for GYKO at the Liberty Stadium
Manchester City booked their place in the fourth round of the EFL
Cup courtesy of goals from Gael Clichy and Aleix Garcia.
Clichy opened the scoring, four minutes into the second half, with
only his second goal in six years for the club, before Garcia made
sure, 23 minutes from time, with his first in City colours.
As expected, Pep Guardiola
retained only two of the side that started against Bournemouth at
the weekend. However, wearing a bright orange and purple kit that
helped to light up the Liberty Stadium, the visitors began at a
With Vincent Kompany back in the starting line up for the first time
since the Champions League semi final against Real Madrid in May,
City set about their task with a real purpose.
They used Jesus Navas and Leroy Sane on opposite wings and switched
the pair on two separate occasions inside half an hour in a bid to
unlock a Swansea defence that included their summer signing Mike van
Having weathered the early storm, Francesco Guidolin's side were
presented with a golden opportunity to take the lead, in the 15th
minute. Having controlled a gentle back pass from John Stones,
goalkeeper Willy Caballero passed the ball straight into the path of
Swansea's record signing Borga. The £15million striker, who signed
from Atletico Madrid in the summer, wasted no time in pulling the
trigger, but held his head in his hands as the ball flew into the
away fans' enclosure.
As Swansea continued to press, so Kompany came into his own. First,
he appeared from nowhere to clear a crisp through ball from Jack
Cork and then, eight minutes later, he popped up in the nick of time
to avert the danger from Neil Taylor's sharp cross from the left.
City had their moments, but for the large part, appeared to be going
through the motions. Angelino Tasende fired wide from a central
position and when Aleix Garcia whipped in a cross from the right,
Swansea goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt had to be on his toes to
prevent van der Hoorn from putting through his own net.
It was Swansea who started the second half with greater purpose –
Borja's overhead kick, from Jack Cork's precise cross, sailing wide
of Caballero's far post. However, when the home side played their
way out of trouble in the 49th minute, the deadlock was finally
broken. Sane, Kompany and Clichy swept forward and when Angelino
Tasende centred for the advancing Clichy, the 31-year-old Frenchman
saw his right footed shot, from 20 yards, strike the calf of Taylor
and loop over the helpless Nordfeldt.
The introduction of Leroy Fer gave Swansea's now flagging midfield a
much needed lift. The powerful Dutchman certainly made his presence
felt, although by now, City were on top and seeking a second.
The sight of Kevin de Bruyne coming on, after an hour, was all that
Swansea needed. The Belgian has been in imperious form this season
and injected an even greater tempo into a side now playing with
renewed confidence. Garcia, from 30 yards, struck a wayward shot
into the stand behind the Swansea goal and a Clichy cross was
cleared, under pressure, by Jordi Amat.
Guidolin looked a worried man in the Swansea technical zone as he
summoned Gylfi Sigurdsson from the bench on the hour. The Icelandic
international entered to a rapturous ovation and almost levelled the
scores with his very first touch. Stones, under no apparent
pressure, decided to carry the ball back into his own box where a
heavy touch too many gifted Sigurdsson his chance. Fortunately, for
Stones and City, Cabaellero's knees came to the rescue.
The game was up for the Swans as good as over, five minutes later,
in the 68th minute. Navas drilled a low centre into the path of
19-year-old Garcia who beat Nordfeldt from 15 yards, on the angle.
Swansea battled, as you might expect, but with goals once again hard
to come by, this season, they were never likely to overturn what was
a comfortable lead for the visitors.
Sigurdsson bagged a late consolation, after Kompany had walked off
to leave City with 10 men, but it was too little too late for
SWANSEA (4-2-3-1): Nordfeldt; Rangel,
Amat, Van der Hoorn, Taylor; Britton, Fulton; Naughton (Sigurdsson
61), Cork (Fer 55), Routledge; Baston (Barrow 75). Booked: Naughton.
Goal: Sigurdsson 90.
MAN CITY (4-3-3): Caballero;
Zabaleta, Kompany, Stones, Clichy; Fernando, Garcia (Adarabioyo 90),
Angelino (De Bruyne 58); Navas, Iheanacho (Diaz 80), Sane. Booked:
Fernando. Goals: Clichy 49, Garcia 67.
Referee: K Stroud (Dorset).
Manchester City 4 Bournemouth 0
City Coast to Victory
Saturday 17th September 2016 : John Murphy for
GYKO at the Etihad
They kill quickly do Manchester City. This was
their fifth straight win in the Premier League under Pep Guardiola
and the longest any team has held out before conceding was Stoke’s
27 minutes at the Britannia Stadium.
Here, Bournemouth might have gone behind after nine seconds, they
did so after a quarter of an hour and by the end they would have
been grateful to have only lost by four. The only stain on the game
was Manuel Nolito’s dismissal for needlessly grinding his forehead
into Adam Smith’s face when the result was long since decided. The
Bournemouth defender retaliated with a shove for which he was shown
a yellow card. Nolito’s was red.
This is not by a long way Guardiola’s best start – last season he
won his first 10 matches at Bayern Munich. However, for those who
are looking to block what already seems a relentless advance, it is
If Manchester City were to stumble, they appeared likely to do so
early on before Guardiola’s squad became used to the intricacies of
his tactics. In all competitions, they have won eight straight games
and scored 25 times. As a fan of Manchester United, Usain Bolt would
not appreciate the comparison, but even he could not have come out
of the blocks any more swiftly.
In terms of ego, Kevin de Bruyne, is Bolt’s polar opposite. There is
a modesty about him that seems to belong to another age but he and
Raheem Sterling, men who returned to Manchester after the a European
Championship that was by turns disappointing and disastrous, have
responded fabulously to the new regime.
The last time Bournemouth came to the Etihad, they were four down
before 45 minutes were up and Sterling had scored three. This time
only the alertness and reflexes of Artur Boruc in goal kept it to
De Bruyne, facing a defence in full retreat a bare three minutes
after the restart, appeared to have delayed his pass a fraction too
long but it fell perfectly for Kalechi Iheanacho, who pulled the
ball back for Sterling. The second goal had involved precisely these
three men and it had finished with the young Nigerian finishing off
Sterling’s pass. This time the favour was returned.
Not long afterwards, Sterling might have scored one of the great
goals, wriggling past four defenders from one side of the 18-yard
box to the other. Only the finish fell short of what had gone
De Bruyne was in his way even better. It was his shot that Boruc was
forced to save before 10 seconds were up. After Jack Wilshere,
making his first league start for Bournemouth, had conceded a foul
on the edge of the area, De Bruyne drilled it through the wall to
open the scoring. Fifteen minutes had elapsed and for the
Bournemouth manager, Eddie Howe, the remaining 75 would have
stretched out into the far distance, a desert to be crossed.
For the fourth, De Bruyne delivered another geometrically accurate
pass to Ilkay Gundogan, who on his debut strolled towards the ball
like a fun runner in the park. His finish was a long way from the
standards of the average park.
For Wilshere, this was not an occasion to remember. He lasted longer
than Jordon Ibe, who was removed during the interval, but not much
longer. However, for those who argued he should have chosen Roma
over Dorset, it is hard to imagine he would have endured a sterner
test of his ability than this anywhere in Serie A.
Bournemouth continued to attack gamely long after the result was
obvious with Callum Wilson striking the crossbar when they were four
down. Much earlier, Junior Stanislas had dispossessed Nicolas
Otamendi with Claudio Bravo out of position. The opportunity
appeared to gape for Joshua King until Fernandinho, captaining the
side, swept the ball from the striker’s feet. Everywhere, in
defence, in attack, Manchester City were utterly unforgiving.
Manchester City (4-1-4-1): Bravo; Sagna, Otamendi (Stones 52),
Kolarov, Clichy; Fernandinho; Sterling, De Bruyne (Garcia 75),
Gundogan (Sane 72), Nolito; Iheanacho.
Substitutes not used: Caballero, Kompany, Zabaleta, Navas.
Bournemouth (4-5-1): Boruc; A.Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; Ibe
(Wilson ht), Wilshere (Gosling 68), Arter, Surman, Stanislas (Gradel
Subsitutes not used: Federici (g), Ake, Afobe, Gradel, B.Smith.
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Manchester City 4 Borussia Monchengladbach 0
Wednesday 14th September 2016 : GYKO at the
Sergio Agüero scored his second hat-trick in two
Champions League starts as Manchester City prolonged their 100%
opening to the season with a comfortable victory in their
rain-delayed Champions League game, making it seven wins out of
seven in all competitions.
The only surprise of an impressive display against outclassed
opponents was that it took Agüero so long to register his third goal
after putting his side two up inside half an hour. He had a number
of chances but looked like being thwarted until Raheem Sterling
finally played him into miles of space with an imaginative pass.
Agüero only just managed to stay onside, though after that rounding
Yann Sommer was a formality. The Argentinian had already left the
field to a standing ovation by the time Leroy Sané conjured a fourth
goal for his fellow substitute Kelechi Iheanacho, for a final
scoreline that amounted to a fair reflection of City’s overall
Pep Guardiola was a little disappointed the stadium was not full –
he is not used to seeing gaps on the terraces – but otherwise
pleased by the performance, in front of a crowd of 30,270. “When you
are in the same group as Barcelona you have to make sure you take as
many points as possible,” the City manager said.
“Ilkay Gündogan showed what a big player he is going to be for us, I
would like to thank Txiki [Begiristain] for buying him, but our
players deserve the stadium completely full. We are here to create
something big. All we can do when we see empty seats is play so well
that people say wow, I want to watch that.”
As a result of the previous night’s postponement Gündogan made his
first start for City following his £21m move from Dortmund,
replacing David Silva who was in the original lineup but had not
felt well on the morning of the game. Returning for the home side
due to domestic suspension, Agüero needed only nine minutes to take
his tally for the season to seven. Sterling did well first to put
pressure on the German defence on the left, then to hold possession
until Aleksandar Kolarov arrived, the full-back whipping in an
unanswerable low cross that only needed a touch of Agüero’s boot to
divert the ball into the roof of the net.
Gündogan himself was almost on the scoresheet next, bringing a
full-stretch save from Sommer after Kevin De Bruyne had escaped down
the right and attempted to find
Agüero in the area. The striker could only help the ball on to
Gündogan, whose first time shot was on target, though possibly too
close to the centre of goal to make life hard for the goalkeeper.
Mönchengladbach are perfectly aware of Gündogan’s strengths, of
course, just as they are familiar with De Bruyne. Their problem lay
in denying space to them both and, when De Bruyne drifted wide to
allow Gündogan to advance through the middle, the latter played in
Sterling for a shot that Tobias Strobl had to clear off the line.
The visitors were just showing signs of life in attack midway
through the first half when City went further ahead. Nicolás
Otamendi brought the ball forward, something he is clearly being
encouraged to do by Guardiola, and De Bruyne found Gündogan in the
area via a deflection off Oscar Wendt, only for Christoph Kramer to
trip Gündogan from behind before the pass could be collected. It
might have been accidental but it was an obvious penalty and Agüero
scored confidently from the spot. The striker could have had his
third by the interval, though put a shot too high from the edge of
the area in the last minute of the half following remarkable
persistence from Sterling, who seemed to have lost the ball on a
couple of occasions but managed to hold on.
Gündogan also brought a save from Sommer towards the end of the
first half, while Claudio Bravo at the other end was a virtual
spectator until Lars Stindl tested him three minutes from the break
with a shot from a corner. Bravo must have been relieved to see the
first 45 minutes go by without having to deal with any crosses under
pressure, and the second half was so undemanding he even managed to
begin the move that led to Iheanacho’s goal by coming out of his
area to use his feet.
Agüero limped off with what appeared to be a twisted knee at the
interval but reappeared for the second half, which began in exactly
the same way as the first with De Bruyne finding acres of space.
Agüero’s hat-trick should have arrived in the 50th minute, courtesy
of a Sterling pass following a goalkeeping fumble yet, just when it
appeared the Argentinian had the goal at his merc, Sommer recovered
to get a hand to a shot bound for the top corner. City were playing
some relaxed, adventurous football, moving the ball to and fro
across the pitch with only Jesús Navas’s habitual inability to
deliver a decisive final ball interrupting their flow.
Sterling, too, lost the ball on occasions, though he beat his man in
several instances, too, and appears to have rediscovered the zest
and willingness to take risks that deserted him last season. John
Stones was assuredness personified at the back, not that the Germans
put the City back-line under any great pressure, ably accompanied by
Otamendi who seems a more confident, buccaneering type of defender
De Bruyne was running the show, though, with Gündogan gradually
fading in his first competitive game for months. If Guardiola can
find a way of playing De Bruyne, Gündogan and Silva in the same team
City will be almost impossible to stop and there will be no need to
mourn the demise of Yaya Touré. Not that everything is perfect,
Sterling should have scored from De Bruyne’s invitation long before
Agüero completed his hat-trick instead of hesitating with only
Sommer to beat, though at least he redeemed himself by playing in
Agüero for a similar one-on-one 10 minutes from time. City’s leading
scorer was never likely to miss that sort of opportunity nor did he.
Manchester City (4-1-4-1): Bravo; Zabaleta, Otamendi, Stones,
Kolarov; Fernandinho; Navas, De Bruyne, Gundogan (Clichy, 80),
Sterling (Sane, 79); Aguero (Iheanacho, 82).
Substitutes not used: Caballero, Sagna, Angelino, Nolito
Borussia Monchengladbach (4-3-1-2): Sommer; Elvedi, Christensen,
Strobl; Johnson, Dahoud, Kramer (Korb, 28), Wendt; Stindl (Traore,
80), Hahn (Hazard, 59); Raffael.
Substitutes not used: Sippel, Vestergaard, Hofmann, Jantschke
Referee: B Kuipers
Manchester Utd 1 Manchester City 2
Manchester is Blue
Saturday 10th September 2016 : John Beresford
for GYKO at Old Trafford
It was a
breathless, exhilarating way to start the new era of Mancunian
rivalry and, at the final whistle, Pep Guardiola could be seen
pumping his fists in celebration. His team had held out and Claudio
Bravo, his new goalkeeper, had been spared after a debut that could
conceivably have wrecked all their outstanding work elsewhere on the
Bravo will not always be so fortunate if this eccentric performance
is an accurate measure of what is to come but, on the balance of
play, it was difficult not to feel the more sophisticated team had
won. The first olés could be heard after 34 minutes from the corner
of Old Trafford that was splashed in blue. A few moments later,
Kelechi Iheanacho doubled City's lead and at that stage it was
difficult to remember a more one-sided derby since 2011 when Roberto
Mancini's team scored six here, Mario Balotelli unveiled his“Why
Always Me?” T-shirt and Sir Alex Ferguson was driven away in a state
Unfortunately for City, it was not too long afterwards that Bravo's
first attempt to catch the ball led to Zlatan Ibrahimovic pulling
one back and thereafter the away team’s superiority had to be
balanced by the overwhelming suspicion that José Mourinho’s men had
sussed out the opposition were relying on an accident-prone
Mourinho was convinced United should have had a penalty in the
second half, with Bravo implicated again, and Marcus Rashford’s
introduction at half-time immediately provided a more threatening
edge. The home side gave everything in the search for an equaliser
and it will not soothe their disappointment that they contributed to
a thrilling contest.
Their problem was they came up against a side that moved the ball
with a rare combination of speed, fluidity and intelligence. David
Silva, such a brilliantly measured footballer, chose a good day to
put in one of his more refined performances. Nolito menaced on the
left and Kevin De Bruyne, scorer of the first goal, added his own
refined touches. If United occasionally looked slow in thought and
movement, it was because their opponents passed the ball so
Sergio Agüero was suspended but, attacking-wise, City were the more
creative team and there were plenty of times in the second half when
they could have added more goals. Leroy Sané, a substitute, slotted
in seamlessly on his debut. De Bruyne struck the post in one
breakaway move and Guardiola could also eulogise afterwards about
the competitive courage of his team. Aleksandar Kolarov, he
reported, finished the match with a front tooth missing. Nicolás
Otamendi's head was bandaged and Guardiola identified the combative
Fernando, another substitute, as the outstanding player of the
More than anything though, this was a glimpse into the free-flowing
football that Guardiola wants from his teams, the irony being that
when the opening goal arrived, after 15 minutes, it had its origins
in a good old-fashioned whack upfield. Kolarov cleared the ball 60
yards, Iheanacho applied the flick and De Bruyne expertly did the
rest, showing quicker anticipation than Daley Blind, steadying
himself and firing a precise shot into the bottom left corner. The
long ball, the flick-on and a goal – not exactly classic Guardiola
but, for City, a thing of beauty, nonetheless.
Blind had been badly exposed and it was the same player, later in
the half, who played Iheanacho onside for the second goal after De
Bruyne’s diagonal left-foot shot had come back off the post.
Unfortunately for Bravo, United had reasonable suspicions before the
match that he might be susceptible and they were proven correct.
This was the keeper's introduction to English football following his
£17m move from Barcelona and perhaps, in hindsight, it was a mistake
from Guardiola not to ease him in against West Ham a couple of weeks
ago. Yet Guardiola was still entitled to expect his new goalkeeper
to catch the free-kick that Wayne Rooney pumped into the penalty
area in the 42nd minute.
Until that point, Bravo had looked assured, often straying 30 yards
off his goal-line and confident enough to try a couple of passes
that many goalkeepers would consider too risky. Now, however, he had
some actual hand-work to do. He collided with John Stones, dropped
the ball at Ibrahimovic's feet and the Swede skimmed his volley
inside the near post.
Ibrahimovic had another two chances before half-time. The first was
a header that went straight at Bravo and on the second occasion he
had more time than he realised with the goalkeeper out of position.
Bravo looked like a danger to his own team and was fortunate,
undoubtedly, that the referee, Mark Clattenburg, decided to be
lenient 11 minutes into the second half when the goalkeeper threw
himself, studs-up, into a challenge on Rooney. Again, it stemmed
from a mistake by the man who had been brought in to take Joe Hart's
place, miscontrolling the ball inside his own penalty area before
desperately trying to make amends.
Mourinho argued his team should have been awarded another penalty,
for an alleged handball by Otamendi, but it was the Bravo challenge
that irked him the most, believing it should have been a red card,
United’s struggles in the first half could be summed up by Mourinho
taking off Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan at half-time, though
he made it clear they were not the only ones guilty of “really poor
individual performances”. Marouane Fellaini was moved further
forwards with Rooney shifting to the right and Rashford patrolling
The home team poured forwards, but they always looked vulnerable at
the back and, for a club with United’s ambitions, it was startling
to hear Mourinho complain that some of his players could not cope
with the derby pressures.
Man Utd: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw
(Martial 81), Fellaini, Pogba, Mkhitaryan (Herrera 46), Rooney,
Lingard (Rashford 46), Ibrahimovic. (4-2-3-1)
Man City: Bravo, Sagna, Stones, Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho,
Silva, Sterling (Sane 60) De Bruyne (Zabaleta 90), Nolito,
Iheanacho (Fernando 52). (4-5-1)
referee Mark Clattenburg