City show gulf in class to secure third successive win at Old Trafford
FA Premier League
Tuesday 25 March 2014, 19.45 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy, Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri (Milner 74), Silva, Navas (Garcia 68), Dzeko (Negredo 80)
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Lescott, Jovetic
Goals: Dzeko (1, 56), Toure (90)
Booked: Kompany, Fernandinho
Referee: Michael Oliver
Man of the Match: Fernandinho
City made the quickest start to the derby… opening the scoring inside 45 seconds. With the first attack of the game, the Blues almost netted twice before Dzeko eventually put the ball over the line – Silva was slipped in brilliantly by Toure, but was tackled by Rafael. The ball was played back in to Nasri on the left, whose effort left De Gea standing and struck the post, with the rebound hitting Dzeko and going in.
With the 20 minute mark approaching, City should have doubled their lead. Pressure on Ferdinand meant a bad back-pass to De Gea, whose clearance fell to Toure. He knocked it through to Silva who was onside and he squared for Dzeko one-on-one. The Bosnian, though, could only find the gloves of the United goalkeeper.
Five minutes later, Fellaini should have equalised. He found himself unmarked at the back post on a United breakaway, following a quick throw-in from Rooney. It was flicked to the Belgian, but his volley was straight at Hart, who held on to the effort well. The Belgian was then lucky to stay on the pitch after only receiving a yellow card for an elbow on Zabaleta.
Mata missed a golden opportunity to pull the hosts level on 40 minutes, following a fresh-air shot by Rooney. The low cross into the box was missed by the striker and fell to the Spaniard’s feet just inside the area. His effort, on his right foot, flashed over Hart’s crossbar.
City could – perhaps should – have doubled their lead early in the second half. Dzeko found space on the left to shoot, but it was well blocked by Ferdinand, before a cross was cleared as far as Zabaleta on the edge of the box. He volleyed it, but it was deflected behind by Carrick. Dzeko won the header from the corner, but he couldn’t find the target, while a near post corner was won by Kompany, but Fernandinho couldn’t turn the defender’s flick into the net.
Ten minutes into the half, though, the Blues did double their lead. A near post corner was missed by the front runner in Demichelis, but it fell nicely to the Bosnian to turn in around the corner with his right foot. It was a cute finish, cool and controlled.
United could have pulled a goal back with 20 minutes to play, as Demichelis gave the ball away trying to play from the back. It fell to Valencia to cross and Welbeck turned it towards goal, but a reaction save from Hart kept it out. The Argentine defender recovered to head clear.
With seconds to go before the fourth official showed the board for stoppage time, City sealed the win. A perfect breakaway from Milner allowed Toure to find space on the edge of the box and, when the Englishman knocked it square, the Ivorian took a touch to control and then belted it into the bottom corner. City were in control from first whistle to last and three goals could have been more.
It was one of City’s games in hand over Chelsea and one they won in emphatic style, racking up a record-breaking fifth consecutive Premier League clean sheet in the process.