City triumph emphatically in Manchester derby
Sergio Aguero (2), Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri rock United at the Etihad Stadium
Manchester City’s Samir Nasri celebrates scoring the fourth against Manchester United. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters
A Manchester City fan celebrates at the Etihad Stadium. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Manchester City 4 Manchester United 1: Probably the moment that summed it up was Samir Nasri’s celebration after he had scored the fourth goal and threatened to make it the biggest walloping Manchester United have taken at the home of Manchester City since the famous 5-1 in September 1989.
Nasri was the player in the corresponding fixture last season who had faced accusations of cowardice after ducking out of the way of Robin van Persie’s late, decisive free-kick. Now he could be seen shadow-boxing by the corner flag. City had outfought their opponents in every department, from A to Z, and the bruises will take a long time to heal for the team beaten to the point of humiliation.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side won with such remarkable, carefree splendour it felt as though the team in United’s colours had no actual plan or idea about what this fixture is supposed to signify. David Moyes now knows how the pre-knighted Alex Ferguson felt on that day at Maine Road, almost a quarter of a century ago, when United’s manager of the time talked about going home and lying on his bed with a pillow over his head.
At the height of this ordeal, Moyes’s name reverberated around the stadium. Unfortunately for him, it was the home crowd serenading his appointment as Ferguson’s successor.
Moyes should expect a lot of scrutiny in the coming days because this was a performance that exposed serious shortcomings. Yet nothing should detract from what an exhilarating display of attacking, incisive football it was from Pellegrini’s team. They were faster to the ball almost every time, playing with great fluency and instinct.
Van Persie was missing for United with a groin injury, but that still goes only a small part of the way towards explaining the difference between the sides. At 4-0, with 40 minutes still to play, it was almost a surprise City stopped there. At that stage, United looked vulnerable to an even more chastening experience than the 6-1 at Old Trafford two years ago.
As it was, Wayne Rooney rounded off a late, overdue flurry from the away side by scoring with a free-kick that was totally out of keeping with the rest of United’s performance. At least the champions did not totally crumple but ultimately it was a futile exercise, delaying their first spell of prolonged pressure until Sergio Aguero had scored twice, Yaya Toure had pinched another and Nasri had rounded off a ghastly five-minute spell for United at the start of the second half when David de Gea was beaten twice in quick succession.
That would usually be when, having gone in 2-0 down at the interval, United would be expected to try to make a comebacks. What happened strayed dangerously close to capitulation and the defending was extraordinary in its shoddiness. Aguero was unmarked for 3-0 and it was the same for Nasri when he hooked in Jesús Navas’s cross four minutes later.