Manchester United clenched a 3-2 victory at Etihad Stadium in the Manchester Derby Sunday, putting them a comfortable 6 points clear of the defending Premier League Champions.
Manchester City has had a wonderful record at home, winning their last 37 home Premier League games at Etihad Stadium since their 2-1 loss to Everton nearly 2 years ago. But despite the disadvantages of playing away from Old Trafford, United got the maximum 3 points as a result of the game.
As expected, the Manchester Derby was nothing short of a thriller. Wayne Rooney scored twice to put United up 2-0, but the second half saw City equalize at 2-2, hoping to grab a mere 1 point at home. As the game went into stoppage time, the Red Devils clenched a shock winner thanks to a goal from United’s “celebrity striker” Robin van Persie.
United began trying their luck in their offensive half at the start of the game. Rooney finally gave them the lead just 16 minutes into the match.
Van Persie and Ashley Young found Rooney in the box and made a low cross. With ease, the England International tricked goalkeeper Joe Hart and found the bottom-left corner, way beyond his reach.
City tried desperately to equalize, but Rooney made it 2-0 on the 29th minute. Valencia combined with Rafael, who made a low cross to Rooney. The 27 year-old striker caught the ball at his feet, and without any defenders near him, he netted his second of the match.
This goal was his 150th in the Premier League, making him the youngest ever player to accomplish such a feat. Rooney is also now the 1st person to score a record-breaking total of 10 goals at the Manchester Derby.
Through the end of the 1st half, City enjoyed a lot of the possession but were unable to find the back of the net. They left for halftime knowing how hard of a feat it would be to get even 1 point at Etihad Stadium.
7 minutes into the 2nd half, upset with Mancini’s decision, Mario Balotelli stormed off as he was substituted with Carlos Tevez.
On the 59th minute, Robin van Persie almost widened the goal margin to 3. His free kick curled into the right post, and had it gone just a bit to the left, Hart would have been beaten. Ashley Cole’s follow-up was ruled offside, and City’s free kick set them up for their 1st goal of the match.
Tevez and Silva fired shots at the net, both of which were saved by de Gea. But the goalkeeper was not able to prevent Yaya Toure from scoring for City, though, as the score changed to 2-1 at the hour mark.
At that point, the game changed in City’s favor. Shots were constantly fired at the United goal, testing de Gea over and over again, until Zabaleta scored an equalizer 4 minutes before full-time, securing what seemed to be a draw.
Tevez corner was cleared by van Persie, but defender Zabaleta fired the ball through Phil Jones’ legs and straight into the net.
But as stoppage time began, van Persie knew that he had not served his full purpose at the game yet. The Netherlands International took a free kick just outside the box, which curved past City’s defensive wall. Alone, his shot would have likely been saved by Hart, but a deflection from Samir Nasri put it in the corner, ending the game with United up 3-2 at the Manchester Derby.
After the whistle was blown, excited United fans celebrated their hard-fought victory, while angry City supporters shook their heads in disbelief.
One of those supporters threw a coin at the pitch, which hit Rio Ferdinand and cut a gash just above his eye. Had it hit him a bit lower, the United defender could have easily lost an eye.
Another Manchester City fan actually marched onto the pitch, but Hart calmed him down and sorted out the situation.
A Look at My Predictions
Although my predictions weren’t spot on, I was fairly accurate. I believed the derby would end in a 2-1 win for the Red Devils. Therefore, the goal-margin of 1 that I predicted was correct, only 2 more goals were scored in the match than I believed would happen.
My two key players for Man United were Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, and considering they were the only 2 that scored for United, that aspect of my preview was also correct.
For Man City, I was sure that Carlos Tevez would be put in the starting lineup for the game, but Mancini decided to have Balotelli take on that role.
I have no idea why Mancini decided to leave Tevez on the bench for the majority of the game, and with Balotelli doing absolutely nothing during his time on the pitch, it proved to be a fatal mistake. He has probably been City’s most energetic and determined player this season, scoring the most goals (7) and a lot of assists (now 5) for the Blues.
Tevez did play a fairly important role when he was substituted in, though, assisting Toure in scoring City’s 1st goal of the match.
But what I found most ironic was that Joe Hart, who I had also put as one of City’s key players, made no saves. Every one of United’s 3 shots on target found the back of the net, making it as if no one was even standing in front of the goal.
Without a doubt, Sunday’s Manchester Derby was one of the most exciting games to watch so far this season, and United emerged victorious deservingly.
Manchester United has now widened the gap with Manchester City to 6 points. United stand atop the table with a total of 39 points from their 13-0-3 record. City, who have suffered their first loss of the season, are in 2nd with 33 points. Their record is currently 9 wins, 6 draws, and 1 loss. Meanwhile, Chelsea are in a far 3rd with 29 points from their 8-5-3 record, 10 behind the league leaders.