Manchester United 2 Manchester
City 0 United Embarrass City
Sunday 8th March 2020 : Stuart Bell for GYKO
at Old Trafford
Manchester United have a first league double for
a decade over
City in a further sign that the faith shown by the board in Ole
Gunnar Solskjær is being repaid. United made their crosstown rivals
appear the tamest City side brought here during Pep Guardiola’s four
years in charge on a day Ederson will wish to forget for being
directly culpable for Anthony Martial’s opener and Scott McTominay’s
late second. United were simply more dangerous than their strangely
toothless opponents and were deserving victors in this 182nd derby
that ended as a third win over City in all competitions this season,
leading to the kind of jubilant scenes not witnessed at Old Trafford
in recent memory.
“Probably not [heard it like this for a while],” Solskjær said. “The
connection between the fans and the team: that means a lot to me. I
know what these fans, what these players want to do.” United remain
in fifth, firmly in the hunt for a Champions League berth, while
making it 10 matches unbeaten. City, though, will be dethroned as
champions and Liverpool crowned before the Merseysiders play again
if Guardiola’s side lose their next two matches, against Arsenal and
Solskjær fielded a 3-4-1-2 that showed seven changes from Thursday’s
FA Cup victory at Derby. Guardiola’s familiar 4-1-4-1 had one fewer
adjustment, the headline being that Kevin De Bruyne’s sore shoulder
meant he was excluded, as Phil Foden became the youngest Englishman
to start this fixture for City for 12 years.
Solskjær spoke of having to press and this is how his team began:
Nicolás Otamendi, Ederson and Oleksandr Zinchenko all being hassled
by United’s excellent front three – Anthony Martial, Daniel James
and Bruno Fernandes.
In what was a vibrant atmosphere City claimed two corners – each off
Brandon Williams, the second deriving from a clearing header. This
pointed to a passage of City dominance in which Martial had to clear
from under David de Gea’s bar, the goalkeeper having previously kept
the scores level with a sharp save. This came when Sergio Agüero
raced along the right with Luke Shaw in attendance. The No 10 turned
and found Foden and he switched the ball left to Raheem Sterling. A
dip of the shoulders and the forward was clear – his shot was
heading in De Gea’s left-hand corner before he steered it wide.
United were in danger of being engulfed by the blue wave. Foden
probed and saw a Harry Maguire clearance rebound off him for a
goal-kick. From this, though, the home side finally broke clear,
Bruno Fernandes hit James early, and he ran through, though his
attempt was too close to Ederson.
This quick-release tactic came close to bearing fruit the next time
United threatened. This time Williams hit Martial, though after an
instant bring-down his shot was blocked. James was next to utilise
speed: the jet-heeled wide man turned Otamendi inside and out along
the right and drew the foul. Fernandes hit the wall from the
free-kick, Fred nutmegged Zinchenko, and United were now posing all
the questions. One of these had Martial outmanoeuvring Fernandinho
and cutting in from the left but a tame shot made easy work for
The goalkeeper, though, was about to commit his first howler.
Fernandes won and took a free-kick on the left, after being kicked
by Ilkay Gündogan. The German was then doubly at fault as he and
Agüero allowed Martial to glide in and volley Fernandes’s dinked
delivery. This went straight at Ederson yet in a butterfingers
moment he allowed the ball to squeeze under his hands at the near
City were now being punched open at will. Aaron Wan-Bissaka had
become a buccaneering right-back, terrorising the visitors along his
flank. Fernandes, Martial, Fred and James joined him in a
free-for-all that had Guardiola’s men in damage-limitation mode,
desperate to reach the break.
They did, still at 1-0 – perhaps fortunately as during the half’s
closing exchanges Otamendi looked to have brought down Fred for a
penalty. VAR did not intervene and instead Mike Dean, the referee,
booked the midfielder. “Penalty, clear penalty,” was Solskjær’s
What City had missed was the usual power to bewitch their opponent
from midfield. At the second-half’s start they found their range.
Raheem Sterling slipped in Agüero and he finished but this was ruled
offside. Ederson, though, still slumbered. A João Cancelo back-pass
was mis-controlled and with Martial thundering in the keeper only
City claimed a corner on the right and from 25 yards Foden’s shot
was tipped over for another from the same quadrant. This came to
nothing and Guardiola swapped Agüero and Bernardo Silva for Gabriel
Jesus and Riyad Mahrez, the Catalan’s frantic body language telling
the tale of his team: an odd lack of poise and skill when required.
Instead another James burst left Otamendi resembling a statue and
Ederson had to repel a blistering effort. And while from here City
probed along both flanks, forcing corners, now came the second
Ederson calamity: a throw out in the 96th minute went straight to
McTominay and the substitute found the empty net from 40 yards out.
Solskjær punched the air and at the final whistle United’s support
serenaded their manager with “Ole Ole Ole”. He and his men are
certainly building the late-season momentum so badly missed last
year when everything fell apart.
Manchester United (3-5-2): De Gea; Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw;
Williams (Bailly 78), Wan-Bissaka, Matic, Fred, Fernandes (Ighalo
88); James, Martial (McTominay 78)
Subs not used: Greenwood, Mata, Romero, Tuanzebe
Manchester City: (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Otamendi,
Fernandinho, Zinchenko (Mendy 77); B Silva (Mahrez 59), Rodri,
Gundogan; Foden, Sterling, Aguero (Jesus 59)
Subs not used: Bravo, Garcia, Silva, Walker
Referee: Mike Dean
Sheffield Wednesday 0
Manchester City 1 City March On
Wednesday 4th March 2020 ; Richard Wood
for GYKO at Hillsbrough
For the umpteenth time in his glittering
Manchester City career Sergio Agüero ensured the tale of this tie
had a happy ending for the holders. His second-half winner took them
into the quarter-finals and secured the striker a remarkable 254th
goal for the club.
This puts City’s record goalscorer one ahead of Wayne Rooney’s
all-time mark for Manchester United - in five fewer years - and is a
23rd of another standout season: the most in all competitions by any
Premier League player. Guardiola made six changes from Sunday’s XI
that claimed the Carabao Cup, though a team including Sergio Agüero,
David Silva and Rodri remained formidable.
This was true particularly for a Sheffield Wednesday that had won
only once in their last eight outings, Garry Monk’s side sitting in
12th in the Championship, eight points from a play-off position. The
manager selected the 24-year-old Joe Wildsmith in goal for his first
appearance since August 2018.
At kick-off, though, Wednesday would have seen some hope in the
pairing of Nicolás Otamendi and John Stones in central defence for
the first time since September: an indication of their
vulnerability. Last week however City were schooling Real Madrid at
the Bernabéu and they had won their last four games, so Dominic
Iorfa allowing Agüero in early on was not what they needed, though
the defender recovered and hustled the striker off the ball.
Better for the Owls was when a Riyad Mahrez corner became a
Wednesday breakaway and Benjamin Mendy was forced to foul Fernando
Forestieri. They did not capitalise from the free-kick – taken by
their playmaker Barry Bannan – yet City had been rattled.
Hillsborough was far from full, perhaps in protest at Wednesday’s
poor form. A pity as Monk’s men took the contest to their visitors
when possible. The next burst from Jacob Murphy drew another foul,
this time due to an Otamendi bodycheck.
City are relentless, of course. As the match moved towards the
half-hour mark the familiar sight of the ball being relayed in and
around Wednesday had them moving from their territory to near goal.
Mahrez was set up and really should not have blasted over. Neither
should Julian Börner have headed out for a City corner when the
safety of Wildsmith’s hands beckoned He will have been relieved
neither this nor a second mistake from the opposite left quadrant
did not presage his team conceding.
A further scare came when Mahrez floated in a free-kick and Otamendi
beat Wildsmith with a deft header but not the bar. City were moving
closer though Agüero could still mis-control a standard ball in to
him, and Stones later had to scurry to clear close to Claudio
Bravo’s area. Missing was the devilish invention and spark of a
high-end City display. As the interval approached Guardiola may have
prepared instructions for his side to up concentration and tempo in
the second half.
So far there had been only the odd threat to Wildsmith’s goal: a
concern for Guardiola but not for Monk, who saw Stones’s stooping
header bounce over just before the whistle for the break. A
quickfire Bernardo Silva cross and Agüero shot immediately following
half-time suggested Guardiola had reminded his side they are
defending this trophy. But when the No 10 was caught offside moments
later the manager threw his hands in a frustration that was
threatening to become the tale of his team’s evening.
The sense was heightened when David Silva rolled the ball to
Benjamin Mendy and Wildsmith’s fingertips pushed the ball on to the
bar. Now, though, the left-back turned creator, threading a pass to
Agüero for the marksman to break the deadlock, a pivot and shot that
beat Wildsmith despite the keeper getting something on this.
From here the expectation was for City to strangle the contest with
keep-ball play, while adding to the score. And though Otamendi had
to be sharp to head an interception when Forestieri looked to run
clear from halfway, those in the yellow and orange shirts did now
toy with Wednesday.
If this was an unwanted kind of vindication for the sparse home
support – announced as 20,900 – Stones would have doubled the lead
if not for Wildsmith’s reflexes.
A sweeping sequence that took Mendy along the left and came close to
setting up Agüero – again – was City in smooth gear. Stones falling
into Bravo’s goal as Steven Fletcher threatened to equalise was not.
This had Wednesday fans raising the roof and Guardiola’s men in
frantic mode. But it did not last and when Raheem Sterling came on
for Agüero this was hardly encouragement for Monk’s men. By the end
this was a job well done by City.
Sheffield Wednesday : Wildsmith; Palmer, Iorfa, Borner (Lees
46), Murphy; Pelupessy, Bannan, Lee (Hunt 63), Fox; Da Cruz,
Forestier (Fletcher 56)
Subs not used: Harris, Nuhiu, Dawson, Urhoghide.
Manchester City : Bravo; Cancelo, Stones, Otamendi, Mendy; B
Silva, Rodri, D Silva; Mahrez, Aguero (Sterling 86), Jesus
Subs not used: Ederson, Gundogan, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Foden,
Referee: Michael Oliver 6 Attendance : 20,900