Marcus Rashford’s first-half strike proved the difference as Manchester United clinched a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
- Manchester City 0 Manchester Utd 1
- Youngster Rashford fires Red Devils in front
- City lose Sterling to injury
- Hart joins Sterling on treatment table
- Aguero hits the post on 66 mins
The Citizens had the lion’s share of possession and goal-scoring chances, but squandered a number of good chances early on before teenager Rashford popped up in the 16th minute to fire United ahead against the run of play.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men continued to create chances but failed to make them count as an obstinate United defence held firm to claim a vital three points in their quest to secure Champions League qualification.
The hosts started the encounter on the front foot and created a whole host of good chances in the opening 15 minutes. However, early efforts from Yaya Toure and Jesus Navas failed to find the mark, before Navas saw a goal-bound effort saved by United keeper David de Gea on 14 minutes.
The next chance fell to Fernandinho just one minute later, but the Brazilian midfielder fired high and wide from the centre of the box after being teed up by Navas.
And he was made to rue that missed chance as the Red Devils went on to claim the lead with their first chance of the game, youngster Marcus Rashford smashing home from the left side of the box after being teed up by Juan Mata.
They very nearly added a second just two minutes later as Anthony Martial saw his shot from outside the box saved by Joe Hart in the centre of the City goal. The Citizens were quick to regain control of proceedings, though, with Martin Demichelis and Toure failing to find the mark in the minutes that followed, before Bacary Sagna saw his header from the centre of the box saved by De Gea in the 35th minute.
Toure had one last chance to make amends for his missed efforts earlier in the contest, but fired just wide of the left-hand post on the stroke of half-time after latching onto Sagna’s headed pass in the centre of the box.
City lost another player to injury early in the second stanza as Hart had to be replaced by Willy Caballero after injuring his leg as he attempted to clear the ball from danger. Caballero proved to be a very able replacement, though, as the Citizens continued to bomb forward in the bid to restore parity.
The Argentine stopper did well to deny countryman Marcos Rojo’s goal-bound effort just two minutes after entering the fray, and he was at it again two minutes later to deny Martial with a sharp save in the bottom-right corner.
At the opposite end of the pitch, striker Wilfried Bony saw his headed effort saved in the top-right corner by De Gea, before Aguero struck the post with a headed effort in the 66th minute from just six yards out.
That missed chance would prove to be pivotal as the Citizens failed to make their chances count in the remaining minutes. Aguero, City’s top scorer and a reliable finisher 99 per cent of the time, was wasteful on the day, squandering a whole host of chances.
Later efforts from Gael Clichy, Bony, Navas, Fernando and Fernandinho failed to find the mark as United were forced to defend for large passages of play. Aguero had one last chance to make amends in the first minute of injury time, but fired just inches wide from the centre of the box after being teed up by David Silva.
And that was the last chance of note as United just about held on in extra time to secure a vital win that propels them back into the hunt for a Champions League place, just one point behind their cross-town rivals.