FA Premier League
Sunday 22 September 2013, 16.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Kolarov, Nasri, Fernandinho, Toure, Navas (Milner 71), Aguero (Garcia 86), Negredo (Dzeko 75)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Jovetic
Goals: Aguero (16, 47), Toure (45), Nasri (50)
Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the Match: Samir Nasri
The last time these two clubs met with new managers in both dugouts was 1971 – then, City twice came from behind to draw 3-3 at Maine Road. Fast forward four decades and there was no danger of a similar story, as the Blues dominated proceedings and, in the end, won at a canter.
It started comfortably for City and stayed pretty much that way throughout the first half, as the hosts controlled possession and pulled the visitors across the pitch and out of position. Rooney made a beeline for Kompany to begin their running battle, while Zabaleta and Kolarov faced Young and Valencia. All three City players came out on top.
The first real action saw Nastasic booked in a challenge with Smalling. The centre-back was unlucky, as it seemed like a genuine attempt to win the ball and he headed the United man’s back. And on five minutes, it left the youngster on thin ice.
To his credit, though, Nastasic didn’t let him affect it. And, just over a quarter of an hour into the match, he was involved in giving City the lead. Navas did well to return the ball to Hart as the Reds tried to break and, as the keeper’s clearance was nodded back, the Serbian nodded it to the feet of Nasri. He cutely flicked it to Kolarov and his drilled cross was superbly turned into the net by Aguero.
It was almost two seconds after, as Nasri flashed a volley over the bar on his left foot, as he found space at the back post. Kolarov wanted a penalty for a bodycheck with Smalling, but it would have been harsh and he had few complaints when the referee pointed for a corner. Rooney, meanwhile, was walking a tightrope and, after several fouls on Kompany and a few poor reactions to decisions, eventually saw yellow.
As the half wore on, City were dominating, but struggling to find a way through a packed United defence. The Reds were camped in their own box and the Blues were searching for the key to the lock for their second. And, on the stroke of half time, it arrived – Negredo climbed to win a header from a Nasri corner and Toure turned it in from three yards.
And if United wanted a good start to the second half to get back into the game, they were dead and buried just five minutes into the match. First, Fernandinho stole the ball in the City box and sent the Blues on the counter. It found Negredo inside the box and, after some strong play against Vidic, he pulled it back to the unmarked Aguero inside the six-yard box. He was never going to miss.
As the Reds tried to recover, City added a fourth: Kompany won possession in his own half and brought it forward. He touched it to Navas, who sprinted down the line to cross. It was perfect for Nasri, arriving at the back post, to volley straight into the net. City were running rampant.
Were it not for Vidic, it could have been five for the hosts just two minutes later: Navas again crossed perfectly between De Gea and the defence and looked for Negredo, but the Serbian centre-back got there first to turn it away.
It was all City. Toure almost squeezed in a fifth at the near post, but as the game hit the hour mark, the hosts slowed down and took their foot off the gas. United gained some momentum, but were struggling for chances – Rooney’s free kick into the wall the best they could muster.
It was down to some brilliant goalkeeping from Hart to keep United blank, as Fellaini swivelled and shot for the top corner. But the England keeper acrobatically touched it over the bar. Evra hit the post and a cracking stop from the rebound with his legs left Hart’s goal intact.
Dzeko joined the action and – like Negredo before him – was unlucky not to add City’s five on two occasions as he broke through the middle and unleashed an effort from range. One whistled past the post, the other was nearly spilled over the line by De Gea.
The only sour note for the home side was that they weren’t able to see out the clean sheet. With three minutes to play, a silly foul by Fernandinho allowed Rooney another set piece on the edge of the box and, having set his sights first time around, he found the top corner.
Nevertheless, it was City’s day and the derby ended with a humiliating defeat for the visitors.