Sunday was all about the Derbies – In La Liga Real Madrid faced Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano while at the Eithad Stadium the marvelous Manchester City faced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United. Real Madrid maintained their unbeaten record at Metropolitano but at the Eithad Pep Guardiola’s City digested a defeat and with which his 21-match unbeaten run ended.

In this season Manchester United have been quite an unpredictable unit and teams never could decipher how would they play with the kind of defensive tactics they apply against the fluent sides.  Obviously, they would not advance forward against the magnificent City unit, rather would try their best to exploit the periods of transition. Guess what, they struck gold.

For all his shortcomings, Solskjaer knows how to win a derby match, even when the odds are stacked firmly against his side.

He is the only manager to have won more matches against Guardiola (four) than he has lost (three), and the first Manchester United coach to win their first three away games against their rivals from the east side of Manchester – quite an achievement.

Manchester United looked out for ideas during the goalless draws against Chelsea and Crystal Palace over the past seven days and at Eithad, perhaps, a draw would be well enough rather than losing. Still, Ole did not wish such and decided to take on the swagger of City.

Normally City does not start slowly, but it was surprising to see them sloppy at the start and Manchester United grabbed the opportunity.

The penalty came when Anthony Martial moved from left to right, along the edge of the area and, as he shaped to shoot, Gabriel Jesus lunged in to catch him. Martial, who had been an injury doubt, led the line with strength and positivity. Although Ederson got a hand to Fernandes’s spot-kick, he could not keep it out.

Moments later, it could have been 2-0.

City had survived a wobble after giving the ball away on the left – Cancelo was robbed by Fernandes and the ball broke for Luke Shaw, who shot straight at Ederson.

Oleksandr Zinchenko shot straight at Henderson while an Ilkay Gundogan shot lacked the cutting edge of the previous games. Riyad Mahrez also dragged wide after a De Bruyne work.

After the break City dominated and won the ball high up through De Bruyne, Jesus laid a Mahrez pass off to Rodri, whose rising drive clipped the top of the crossbar.

Five minutes into the second half Shaw stole the show – his speed and purpose dented City’s comeback. When the goal went in, Solskjær’s first reaction was to salute Henderson, who had clearly followed his pre-match orders to the letter with the execution of the throw.

United were liberated thereafter and Martial advanced to stretch the lead but failed to get his body shape right on a diving header after a Fernandes cross had deflected up to him but the big chance came on 68 minutes –  He was one-on-one with Ederson after a burst from the impressive Scott McTominay but the weak attempt undermined the effort.

Tactically, Ole’s 4-2-3-1 shape pressed high enough with Rashford staying in the midfield in front of Cancelo while Fernandes in front of Rodri and narrowed the passing lanes and for which City failed to progress centrally. This forced Jesus to drop in the midfield to aid the midfielders and the wing-backs who were trying hard to create spaces and break the deadlock at the center of the park and wider regions. The pressure created by United forced the backline to give the ball away and the visitors utilized the opportunities during the transitions.

City were tamed by staying narrow and maintaining the shape in the central zone.


Ole and his boys enjoyed a great Sunday.

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