The hosts put up a fight but a 2-0 victory for the away side, with Bernardo Silva and substitute Leroy Sane finding the target, was no less than they deserved on Wednesday night.
The result puts the Citizens in the driving seat in the title race with Liverpool while United have now lost seven of their last nine across all competitions.
The narrative in the aftermath of that diabolical display at Goodison Park over the weekend featured words like ‘insipid’, ’embarrassment’ and even ‘disrespectful’. But the one Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemed to focus on ahead of the Manchester derby was ‘reaction’.
The first instance of it came from the manager himself, wielding the axe and making five changes to his starting XI. United set up in a 5-3-2 system and the intensity from the start was incomparable to what was produced days earlier.
The Red Devils were even the better side during the early exchanges, fighting for every ball and closing down City well. With 15 minutes played at Old Trafford, United already had four attempts at goal to City’s one, they only mustered seven during the defeat at Everton.
Of course, the gulf in class between the two Manchester sides remained palpable, United were just competing extremely well for a period. As the game wore on though, sloppiness crept into the hosts’ play and City took full advantage.
Despite the result in the end, Solskjaer will take plenty of positives from his side’s response after being picked apart by Everton. With Arsenal losing 3-1 at Wolves, a top four spot remains in the balance and now, there’s a performance to build on.
CITY DON’T SLIP
Pep Guardiola would’ve brought his side to Old Trafford half expecting their neighbours to roll over but, instead, they were confronted with more fight than anticipated.
It bothered them little though. They had to work for their three points, but it never really looked in doubt. They were composed, well organised and single-minded in their efforts. Eventually, their superiority shone through and they got the job done.
This is certainly cause for concern for Liverpool. A few weeks ago, this looked like the fixture that could trip up the Citizens but with only Burnley, Brighton and Leicester City left in their path, there may be no stopping City now.
They just don’t look like slipping. They look like champions.
FRED IS NO RED
It’s no secret that City have better players and their squad is far superior. All over the pitch, the Blues outclass the Reds for quality but nowhere is that more evident than in the middle of the park.
The disparity between the two sets of midfielders is staggering. Sure, Paul Pogba boasts the talent and ability to thrive at the highest level but rather than lift those around him to his level, he tends to sink closer to theirs.
Still, the Frenchman was the best United had to offer, and Fred was by far the worst. Playing in that key deep-lying midfielder role, the Brazilian couldn’t be less suited to it. He lacks awareness of the space around him and lending him the ball when he’s facing his own goal is a dangerous game.
He lost possession repeatedly and at crucial times, one of which led to City’s second. Some will commend his energy and commitment but United deserve better. Fred is no Red.
Meanwhile, his compatriot Andreas Pereira had a few good moments, creating a couple of openings as well but his inexperience showed and during his 72 minutes on the pitch, he was dispossessed a game-high five times.
City looked weary early on as a fired-up United flew out of the traps and put pressure on the visiting defence. City’s players took a while to wake up but when they did, they combined to devastating effect.
They took the lead nine minutes into the second half when Bernardo Silva wasn’t shut down and dragged his shot inside David De Gea’s near post. While the United goalkeeper didn’t really deserve much blame for that one, he was severely culpable for the second.
City broke and Raheem Sterling fed Leroy Sane, who fired in via De Gea’s shin, again at his near post.
The second proved a dagger to United’s heart as Pep Guardiola’s domestic treble-chasers comfortably saw out the contest.
Here’s our the men in blue rated:
MANCHESTER CITY (4-3-3)
Ederson 6: Out quick to pick Rashford’s pocket, fine goalkeeping. Despite United’s bright start, was untroubled in the second half.
Kyle Walker 6: Didn’t put a foot wrong but didn’t have much to do either. Fairly untroubled in defence and kept things simple. Three clearances jointly led City.
Vincent Kompany 4: Got away with an early tug on Rashford, but not a second. Booked inside 10 minutes. Looked all at sea when he was brought in for his nouse and experience.
Aymeric Laporte 6: As City struggled early on, he nevertheless enjoyed a quiet evening, while Kompany crumbled. Passing was imperious.
Oleksandr Zinchenko 5: Had trouble dealing with the marauding Rashford down his channel early on, saw yellow for catching Young. Grew in stature and looked solid. Four tackles and interceptions led City.
David Silva 7: Went about his business largely anonymously, but belied recent poor form with four key passes. Enduring class cannot be overstated.
Fernandinho 7: Cut out Young’s devilish free-kick and was typically committed yet composed in heat of midfield battle. Pivotal tackle on Pogba led to him going off.
Ilkay Gundogan 6: Endured a difficult start as United’s energy in the middle troubled the champions. Pushed more centrally following Fernandinho’s exit, started the move that led to Silva’s goal.
Bernardo Silva 8: City’s attackers were stymied early on but when they tuned in, he was the conductor. Fine season continued with opening goal. After that, danced about the final third with intent. Five dribbles.
Sergio Aguero 6: Grew into the game. Typical penache after City took lead, curling effort struck base of post. United defence could never rest.
Raheem Sterling 7: Slow to get going but always a threat. Magical feet almost produced a fine solo goal. Increasingly influential, five dribbles key to that, playing in Sane for number two.
Leroy Sane 7: Young would not have been happy to see him come on, and he exposed United’s deteriorating defending as he thrashed in second.
Gabriel Jesus N/A: Fresh legs to see out an eventually routine win.
Danilo N/A: Can’t even remember him coming on.
The 18-year-old England international suffered the injury during Monday’s 2-2 draw with Burnley at Stamford Bridge, and underwent an operation on Tuesday evening.
In a brief video message via his social media accounts, Hudson-Odoi said: “Hi guys, thank you for all the messages and support that you have been sending me, really appreciate it.
“I am doing better and feeling better, so thank you very much and (it’s) just the road to recovery now. Thank you.”
No time frame has yet been given for Hudson-Odoi’s rehabilitation.
The winger, though, will now miss Chelsea’s remaining fixtures as they bid to secure a top-four spot and also win the Europa League.
Hudson-Odoi would also have been expected to be involved for England’s Nations League finals this summer after making his debut last month.
A product of Chelsea’s academy system, Hudson-Odoi made 28 appearances and scored five goals in his breakthrough season.
Opperation was Successful, Thank God always and thank you all for your messages and support,the return begins now!!!❤️❤️🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/14qw4rgRK2— Callum Hudson-Odoi (@Calteck10) 24 April 2019
The winger made his debut in the Community Shield against Manchester City in August and his emergence as a first-team player attracted the attention of England boss Gareth Southgate.
Hudson-Odoi was handed his first senior cap against the Czech Republic and then was named in the starting XI for the 5-0 win in Montenegro.
The teenager also attracted interest from German giants Bayern Munich during the Janauary transfer window, with a £35million offer said to have been on the table.