[Premier League] Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City
ManUtd : Darrent Fletcher (81)
ManCity : Mario Balotelli (22, 60), Sergio Aguero (69), Edin Dzeko (90, 90), David Silva (90)
It had been billed as the biggest Manchester derby in decades, but it turned out to be a derby day to forget for United as City celebrated a historic 6-1 victory at Old Trafford.
The Reds started as the brighter of the two teams but it was the Blues who made the crucial breakthrough when Mario Balotelli sidefooted past David De Gea after 22 minutes. Jonny Evans’ red card just after the break made it a real uphill fight for the champions and it got worse thereafter as Balotelli grabbed a second goal before further strikes from Sergio Aguero, David Silva and two from substitute Edin Dzeko left Old Trafford stunned. United’s 18-month unbeaten run at home was well and truly over.
Sir Alex Ferguson made three changes to the side that had earned a point at Anfield eight days earlier with Wayne Rooney, Anderson and Nani all returning. Meanwhile, Jonny Evans partnered Rio Ferdinand in the back four, with Nemanja Vidic - sent off in the Champions League in midweek - not in the 18. City boss Roberto Mancini, meanwhile, opted for a five-man midfield of Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry, James Milner, Mario Balotelli and David Silva with Sergio Aguero up front on his own.
United dominated the early possession with Nani and Ashley Young looking lively on both flanks, and Wayne Rooney seemingly very much in the mood, dropping deep to dictate the play for much of the opening 20 minutes. But tellingly, as it turned out, the Reds failed to create any real clear-cut chances.
City saw very little of the ball in that period but whenever they did the men in blue were always quick to try and find the man that makes them tick – David Silva. The Spaniard looked a threat every time he gained possession; indeed it was his pass into James Milner which led to City taking the lead on 22 minutes. Silva collected possession on the edge of the area before slipping the ball into Milner who had burst down the left. His pull-back fell perfectly for Balotelli who cleverly steered the ball into the far corner and out of the reach of De Gea.
It was harsh on United who had barely given City a look-in up to that point. The Blues visibly grew in confidence on the back of the breakthrough as the game livened up. Balotelli just failed to connect with an Aguero cross soon after the goal, while Yaya Toure flashed a 30-yarder over the bar.
After the initial shock of falling behind, the United players got back into their earlier stride and cranked up the pressure on City. Young curled an effort just wide, while Anderson and Rooney both stung the palms of Joe Hart in quick succession. Jonny Evans spurned United’s best chance five minutes from the break when, after being found by Rooney via a short corner, the defender completely missed his kick from five yards out.
Evans was at the centre of the game’s big moment two minutes after the restart when he pulled Balotelli back as the Italian striker bore down on goal. Referee Mark Clattenburg had no choice but to give the Northern Ireland international his marching orders and in turn make United’s afternoon a whole lot harder.
Despite the setback the Reds seemed to be galvanised and, buoyed on by a raucous Old Trafford crowd, duly bombed forward despite the numerical disadvantage. Young saw his ricocheted effort drop just wide, while Rooney blasted a shot straight at Hart. United’s new-found optimism was short-lived however when Balotelli’s doubled his and City’s tally on the hour-mark. Silva was again at the heart of City’s good play as he flicked a lovely pass into Milner who had burst into the area and once again delivered a pass to Balotelli who was on hand to slot home from close range.
United’s misery was compounded nine minutes later when Aguero made it 3-0 to City, at the end of another excellent move. Balotelli backheeled the ball to Milner who put Micah Richards in down the right and crossed for Aguero to convert from three yards. It almost got worse for United soon after when Silva blasted over and substitute Edin Dzeko rolled a shot wide and then saw another saved by De Gea as City broke forward.
Darren Fletcher handed the champions a lifeline nine minutes from time with a sublime curling finish into the top corner after a one-two with Reds substitute Hernandez, but City made sure of the victory and a painful for afternoon for the Reds when David Silva and Edin Dzeko (twice) found the net in injury-time. Bragging rights - and more worryingly, a five-point lead - belong to the Blues.
David De Gea
Strange day for the young Spaniard who hardly put a foot wrong and yet conceded six. Prevented the scoreline from being any worse thanks to an excellent save from Edin Dzeko late on.
Got up and down the right wing very well and offered good support to Nani in attack, but like his fellow defenders will be gutted to have lost six goals.
Looked calm and assured in the first period, but was unable to stamp some much-needed authority on United's defensive play after Evans' sending off as City made their numerical advantage count.
A day to forget for the Northern Ireland international who failed to connect when presented with a chance by Rooney in the first half and was rightly dismissed for pulling back Balotelli early in the second period.
The Frenchman got forward well, particularly in the opening period, but will be disappointed that City’s crucial second and third goals came after the Blues got in behind on his flank.
An unusually quiet performance from the Portuguese winger, who struggled to make an impact on proceedings against the impressive Gael Clichy. Replaced by Jones on 65 minutes.
Made a solid start to the midfield battle but was simply outnumbered in the second half after United were reduced to ten. Netted an impressive consolation strike on 81 minutes following a neat exchange with Chicharito.
Fashioned United's first shot on target after 31 minutes, but had his work cut out against the impressive Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry. Was lucky to escape a first half booking for a foul on Silva and eventually saw yellow for hauling back Aguero. Replaced by Hernandez on 65 minutes.
Made a lively start as the Reds camped in City's half and went close with a cross-cum-shot. Had a double bite early in the second half with a scuffed shot which was blocked and then steered a rebound effort wide.
Fired straight at Hart in the first half and again towards the hour-mark during a difficult outing. As ever, displayed an impressive work-rate and showed his versatility when forced to play in midfield after the sending off.
The striker was one of United's most lively performers in the opening 45, concerning Kompany enough to force a yellow card foul from the City skipper. On the whole, was starved of service but showed grit and endeavour in defeat.
Javier Hernandez (for Anderson, 65 mins)
Hustled and harried City’s defenders as United went in search of a way back into the game and it was his lay-off which led to Fletcher’s fine strike late on. Unfortunately, it proved to be too little, too late.
Phil Jones (for Nani, 65 mins)
Brought on to try and offer some bite in midfield and provide cover for the defence, but United were always fighting an uphill battle. Was on the wrong end of a poorly timed tackle by Dzeko but managed to carry on nonetheless.