Phil Foden stars as Manchester City come from behind to beat Man United

City beginning a potentially defining month with the result they needed as Red Devils are reeled in

Manchester City 3 Manchester United 1

At least it was not another abject humiliation. That was the crumb of comfort from the Manchester United point of view. In four of the previous six derbies – and that did not include the FA Cup final at the end of last season, which Manchester City won 2-1 – United had been taken apart in grisly fashion. Their supporters even had the thrill of seeing Marcus Rashford blast them into an early lead with a furious long-range drive.

It was still another defeat, another occasion when the gap to the top was mapped out in painful detail – as it was always going to be. United’s ambition was limited to battling to stay compact and trying to nick something on the counterattack. It is not what they should be about and Jim Ratcliffe, the new minority owner, knows it.

United would be reeled in, City beginning a potentially defining month with the result they needed to answer Liverpool’s win at Nottingham Forest from Saturday and it was Phil Foden who made the difference.

Foden scored twice, the first a hit to rival that of Rashford, the second a composed finish to make it 2-1 and take him to 18 goals for the season; a career best. But it was the little details, too, such as him tracking back to rob the United substitute, Antony, late on that had Pep Guardiola applauding wildly. Foden was on another level.


Erling Haaland would add the third in stoppage time and it was certainly a good way for City to limber up for next Sunday’s showdown against Liverpool at Anfield. They also play Arsenal here at the end of the month. They have now won 17 and drawn two of their past 19 matches in all competitions. Who can stop them?

Ten Hag had precious few options with his starting XI given his injury list, unless you count Sofyan Amrabat at left-back as one or Antony on the right-wing as another – but Ten Hag did not. And so it was Victor Lindelöf at left-back, Jonny Evans in at centre-half and the surprise being Bruno Fernandes in a false nine role. There would be an even bigger one in the eighth minute.

It is fair to say that Rashford had brought the spotlight upon himself by giving an interview on Thursday in which he strongly advised nobody to question his commitment to United – on the back of his poor performance in the midweek FA Cup win at Forest. Nobody was really doing that. They were questioning instead why he was having such a poor season.

Rashford needed to show something and he did with one of the best goals of his career, an almost impossibly sweet strike from 25 yards that reared up ferociously, going in off the underside of Ederson’s crossbar. The goalkeeper barely saw it. It was Fernandes who created the chance, having held off Rúben Dias after a high ball from André Onana.

Rashford mixed in the bad, too, during a frenetic opening when United looked threatening on the break. He might have scored again when Dias slipped and Fernandes played a quick through-ball. Rashford had nobody in front of him on halfway but his first touch was poor, allowing Kyle Walker to tackle back. Worse was to follow when Rashford air-kicked and then fell over after Fernandes had crossed. The angle was not unkind for Rashford. It went down as a good chance.

Guardiola did what had been expected of him. He asked John Stones to step up into midfield while he gave Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva plenty of licence in central areas. City dominated possession, they pressed high and created chances before the interval, United repeatedly throwing bodies in front of shots. Onana was also excellent.

The goalkeeper’s handling was reassuringly good from a United point of view while he made three huge first-half saves, two to deny Foden, the second when the City midfielder was clean through. The other one saw him plunge to his left to keep out a Rodri volley.

When Haaland contrived a scarcely believable miss in first-half stoppage time, the thought flickered that it could be United’s day. Foden had headed square from Rodri’s floated ball and Haaland was all alone at point-blank range, leaping to cushion the volley into the empty net. He could not keep it down. We almost needed to see replays to check. Yes, City’s goal devourer really had skied it.

Guardiola advised calm. It would come for his team in the second half. United’s patched-up backline surely could not hold out. The equaliser was another thing of beauty, Foden cutting inside Lindelöf, no red shirts stepping out to him, the strike of the utmost purity. Foden had shimmered with menace. Now he had his moment from outside the box.

United had wanted a foul by Walker on Rashford in their previous possession, which would have been soft. What was clear was that City had plenty to do thereafter.

The pattern had been fixed from the first whistle – City pushing, United looking to dig in, hoping to land the counterpunch. But as the game wore on, there would be next to nothing of the latter. The second half was a siege of the United goal.

Ten Hag introduced Willy Kambwala at right-back, switching Diogo Dalot over to left-back to deal with Foden, Lindelöf moving to centre-half. So Guardiola simply shifted Foden towards the other side and it was from where he scored again.

Foden swapped passes with the substitute, Julián Álvarez, and saw the space open up, the finish a mere formality. City deserved the extra goal which came when Amrabat, on as a substitute, was robbed by Rodri. Haaland was clear and he was not going to miss this time. – Guardian