Manchester City’s seemingly inevitable march towards the Premier League title hit the streets on Sunday as Pep Guardiola’s men at Etihad surrendered their unbeaten streak of 28 games to city rivals Manchester United.
An early penalty from Bruno Fernandes and a goal from Luke Shaw in the second half were enough to give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s protégés three hotly contested points. That ended the unbeaten run that brought City to the top of the division – United were now unbeaten in an impressive 22 away games.
Fernandes’ early goal set the tone for the rest of the game. Guardiola’s striker failed to break Man United’s stoic rearguard.
In truth, City has never really gained a foothold. Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan, so often Manchester City’s talisms this season, struggled to make an impact. One of them was Kevin de Bruyne, who, on the occasion of his 250th appearance for the team, looked abandoned for a large part of the 90 minutes.
“It’s always difficult to play against Manchester City,” Fernandes told Sky Sports after the game. “They are hard on the ball and difficult to play. Today we did almost everything perfectly.
“It’s not about winning against City, it’s about winning every game.
“The goal in the first minute was perfect, we had more room to counter. We stayed focused until the end of the game. If we defend well, we know we have scoring opportunities. The league is not a sprint. It is a marathon. We have to do our best and not think about others. “
Great win and great performance from @ManUtd. Excellent defensive and always dangerous when counterattacking. Perfectly controlled by Ole.
– Gary Lineker @ (@GaryLineker) March 7, 2021
Organization and energy. Awarded by Manchester United. For the first time I saw them win without thinking the only reason they had was Bruno. # MCIMUN
– Adam Catterall (@AdamCatterall) March 7, 2021
1 – Of the 67 managers Pep Guardiola faced more than three times as top boss in all competitions, Ole Gunnar Solskjær was the only one to beat the Spaniard (4) more often than he lost to Guardiola (3). . Devil. pic.twitter.com/RKl7lhGLJq
– OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 7, 2021
The win will be especially satisfying for United’s occasionally under-fire boss Solskjaer, who is now – incredibly – the only manager to set a win record against Guardiola and more than the other 66 top managers the Spaniard has faced ( three) times or more) in his career.
Similar to the previous campaign, it was a tactical masterclass from the Norwegian whose team castrated the formidable city so successfully.
Another confirmation for the United Academy also kicked off today: Henderson, McTominay and Rashford – all on the same youth team in 2014 – and there were four other academics on the bench. Foden City’s only representative on the academy and on the bench. #mufc
– Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) March 7, 2021
“Of course I don’t think we started very well,” said De Bruyne of his team’s performance. “We knew it was going to be difficult. We played into their hands on the first goal and it took about 15 minutes to calm down a bit. Then we played pretty well but we didn’t score and that makes a difference Made and made a mistake with that. ” Press for the second destination.
“It’s not best if you stay behind after a minute, but after that you have 90 minutes. The second was a little worse but I think the mentality of the players was the same as always.
“Sometimes it is necessary to lose games and have bad spells. Even in the winning run we had some bad spells, but we didn’t get over them then. Sometimes it can be positive.”
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However, the manner in which United won may be bittersweet for some parts of their fans, having recently lost points in games with Crystal Palace, Chelsea and West Brom – results that almost certainly ended any realistic ambition they could possibly have Solksjaer had emphasized this in his comments after the game.
“No, we’re only taking one game,” he told Sky Sports. “They are too far ahead to believe we can catch them. They were excellent. Even today they put you under so much pressure.”