Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United
Sergio Aguero 16, Yaya Toure 45+2, Aguero 47, Samir Nasri 50
Manchester City will remember this derby day as one of their finest days in many years. Manchester United will want to forget it ever happened. David Moyes, in his first derby day as manager, watched his side give the ball away frequently and surrender to a City side that was faster, stronger, sharper and by appearances, better organised.
United now have 7 points from 5 games. They may have faced a tough fixture list in the early part of the season but this defeat will take some recovery, not least because of how utterly one-sided this game was. Manuel Pellegrini enjoyed an afternoon where his side overran Manchester United for vast majority of the game and made world class players look decidedly ordinary.
Wayne Rooney’s magnificent free kick that sailed past Joe Hart in the 86th was barely consolation at the tail end of a game in which his side were so thoroughly outplayed. Until that moment the striker, accused of having gone “soft” in recent years by his manager, could only contribute by snarling at Vincent Kompany and Howard Webb in equal measure.
It has been a while since Manchester United have looked so comprehensively second-best in every conceivable area. City’s dominance of the first half was exemplified by the imperious performance of Yaya Toure, who was an embodiment of everything that United currently lack in their midfield. The man brought in to plug the gap, Marouane Fellaini, was decidedly quieter.
City started this game and 5th gear – their opponents barely made it out of the garage. From the outset they terrorised their rivals, carving up the defence time and time again. Antonio Valencia, a player who has rediscovered his form over the last few games, was guilty of failing to track back, allowing Aleksandar Kolarov to move beyond the exposed Chris Smalling and deliver a cross which was finished with astonishing technique by Sergio Aguero. The Argentinian was forced to change up his body position and stretch backwards to hook the ball past David De Gea.
United were on the back foor for the first 35 minutes at least. Just as they were able to gain possession and stem the sky-blue tide, they fell victim to the classic momemtum killer – the goal on the stroke of half-time. This time it was Rio Ferdinand guilty of switching off, leaving Yaya Toure alone to poke home an Alvaro Negredo header from a simple corner.
Hlaf time brought no respite. Within two minutes of the restart Negredo snuck inside Chris Smalling towards David de Gea’s right hand post, who whipped in a quick cross to Aguero, who couldn’t miss. Two minutes later, as Cleverley took off his tracksuit, Jesus Navas had collected the ball from the imperious Kompany, sprinted almost 70 yards down the right flank and chipped in a cross to the back post for Samir Nasri to thunder home.
As he trudged off, Ashley Young will reflect on a miserable afternoon which he gave the ball away on so many occassions you have to wonder whether Moyes was considering hauling off the winger in the first half.
David Moyes will inevitably face questions over the tactics which saw Manchester United play with extreme caution. Fellaini, such a nuisance when given the freedom to charge forward and physically intimidate opponents, was reduced to lying deep in United’s midfield and stroking the ball out wide to Patrice Evra and Antonio Valencia. Similarly tentative were Michael Carrick and Evra – there appeared noone capable of marshalling the game for United and it is leadership in that area, as well as power, that United still lack.
The substitutions from Moyes also showed an apparently unwillingness to gamble on players whose style may have made an impact. Shinji Kagawa, Nani and Javier Hernandez remained resolutely stuck to the bench as United continued to spend the majority of the game in damage limitation mode.
For every player in red that failed to impose themselves, a player in blue was the direct opposite. Intensity and power was provided by Kompany and Toure, speed from Navas and control from Negredo. United were pinned back by a combination of all four and finished by the quality of Sergio Aguero. The hard truth for Moyes is that it was men against boys.