It was a derby day of delight for Manchester City as two goals from Sergio Aguero helped Manuel Pellegrini’s men sweep aside Manchester United in a 4-1 thrashing at a jubilant Etihad Stadium.
Aguero’s double was sandwiched by Yaya Toure’s late first half goal to give United a mountain to climb, and it got worse when Samir Nasri made it 4-0 in the 50th minute.
Wayne Rooney dampened the party atmosphere from the City faithful by curling in a superb free-kick in the 87th minute, but it’s a day to remember for the home fans and a message to the rest of the Premier League from the 2012 champions.
It was obvious from the start that City looked the sharper of the two sides and they grabbed a deserved lead after just 16 minutes. Nasri played it on for the over-lapping fullback Aleksandar Kolarov to fizz in a powerful cross and Aguero’s expert volley was superb as he rattled it in from close range. It was a world-class finish from the Argentine, who had to twist his body to volley the ball in after the cross was going behind him.
Just three minutes later, City nearly doubled their lead as United failed to defend like Premier League champions. Jesus Navas’ deep cross was headed clear by Chris Smalling but only as far as Nasri who say his flash volley fly inches over David De Gea’s crossbar. It was very unlucky for the Frenchman, but David Moyes had serious trouble concerning his defence.
A second goal for City seemed inevitable as the first half went on but it took until the first minute of injury time to make it 2-0. Navas’ corner was met by Alvaro Negredo at the near post and the Spanish striker’s flick on was perfect for Toure to divert over the line and ruin Moyes’ half-time team talk in the process.
The man who replaced Sir Alex Ferguson as United manager in the summer would have been hoping for a fast start in the second half from his new team, but the exact opposite occurred as City put the game away from reach with a third goal in the 47th minute. Negredo did brilliantly to hold off Nemanja Vidic and spin a cross into the box where Aguero was waiting to wrap in his second of the game and his fifth goal in six games against the Red Devils.
City fans were in dreamland but it got even better when Nasri added a fourth three minutes later. Navas raced down the right wing unchallenged and his cross to the back post found Nasri completely unmarked, leaving the former Arsenal man with a simple finish to volley past De Gea and celebrate wildly in front of the home fans.
It was a remarkable scoreline, but the game got more surprising as City took their foot off the pedal and United dominated the final half an hour. Rooney should have pulled one back after Danny Welbeck smartly dummied Smalling’s low cross, but the England international sent his shot from ten yards well over to the ironic cheers of the rival fans.
United even hit the woodwork in the final minutes, and the miss compounded United’s horror show. Rooney’s corner was met by Patrice Evra’s header but the French left-back saw the ball rattle back off the post and away to safety. It was shocking to see the defender win the header, but he really should have scored after doing so.
City wouldn’t have a complete performance though as United did grab a consolation goal with three minutes to go. Rooney had scored ten goals in Manchester derbies before today and his eleventh was a thing of beauty. From 30 yards out, Rooney curled a free-kick over the wall and into the top corner, past the helpless dive of his compatriot Joe Hart in the City goal. It was a fantastic strike and the goal meant Rooney become the top scorer in Manchester derby history.
The loss compounds a bad start to his Manchester United career for Moyes and a bad start to their Premier League title defence for the 20-time winners. For City, the confidence this win will bring could be a catalyst for a successful season.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)