The Manchester derbies follow each other and are not alike. Three months after being humiliated by a tennis score (6-3) on the lawn of their neighbor, Manchester City, the Red Devils won the second leg, in the 20e day of the English championship 2022-2023. Stunning, Manchester United won 2-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday 14 January.
The fact of the match is the equalizing goal signed by the Portuguese Bruno Fernandes in the 78e minute. At the start of the action, goalkeeper David de Gea left it to his defender Raphaël Varane to raise Casemiro towards the middle, who shifted Aaron Wan-Bissaka to the right. The latter breaks the first line of defense by finding the Brazilian, who launches Marcus Rashford towards the goal. Feeling in an offside position, the striker trained at the club leaves it to Bruno Fernandes to conclude the action.
The assistant referee then raises his flag, considering that Rashford has made play action, continuing his race towards the ball. However, he will be judged by the central referee a few seconds later. Having probably received contradictory information from his other video assistant, Stuart Attwell points the center circle and grants the goal (1-1, 78e). Manchester City players will try to make the referee understand that Rashford’s race may have influenced the course of action, for example by preventing defender Manuel Akanji from intervening. In vain.
Bruno Fernandes’ controversial goal for Manchester United’s equaliser! 🔴 Offside in your opinion? 🤔 #MUNMCI… https://t.co/b5Ssv3SHOy
The Red Devils untenable since the previous derby
Barely a few minutes later, Manchester United drives the point home. On the counterattack, Bruno Fernandes serves Alejandro Garnacho on the left side. Very happy to see his first attempt at a cross, countered, coming back to him, the Argentinian did not miss his second chance. He delivers a decisive pass to Marcus Rashford, who deceives Ederson at close range (2-1, 82e). This is how to overthrow a Mancunian derby.
Disappointing in the first period, unable to find its flagship striker, the Norwegian Erling Haaland (already author of 21 league goals), Manchester City had nevertheless opened the scoring on the hour mark, thanks to a header from Jack Grealish ( 0-1, 60e). Barely entered the game in place of the very discreet – and it’s rare – Phil Foden, the striker had been ideally served by Kevin De Bruyne.
Led a quarter of an hour from the end, Manchester United won thanks to a controversial goal. But Eric Ten Hag’s men also had the merit of creating the best chances of the first period, in particular two from Marcus Rashford in quick succession (35e37e).
In the Premier League standings, there is now just a point difference (39 to 38) between second-placed Manchester City (39 points) and third-placed Manchester United – with the two teams having two games each in delay in playing following postponements linked to the death of England’s Queen Elizabeth II in September. Yet there were eight three months ago, after the first leg. But it is above all Arsenal, five points ahead of the Citizens and one game less, which could benefit from victory at Tottenham on Sunday, in another derby, that of North London.
In retrospect, the rout of the Red Devils at the Etihad Stadium in October was a turning point in their season. Since then, they have taken 26 points out of a possible 33 in the league. And the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, in open conflict with his coach, is already forgotten.
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For Pep Guardiola and his players, on the other hand, it is the second defeat of the week after that in the quarter-finals of the League Cup, in Southampton, Wednesday January 11. A competition where Manchester United is now a favorite. England’s most successful club (20 league titles, compared to 19 for Liverpool) has been chasing a trophy since 2017.