City claim the bragging rights

 

Man City 1-0 Man United:Manchester United's stuttering start to the defence of the Premier League title turned into a full-blown slump today when they were beaten 1-0 by Manchester City.

The result left Sven-Goran Eriksson's City top of the league with a maximum nine points and looking down on their rivals who languish just outside the bottom three with two points.   

It is United's worst start to a Premier League season since 1992 when they managed just one point from their opening three matches. It is also the worst start by any defending champions.   

Chelsea could go seven points clear of United with victory over Liverpool later. Arsenal drew 1-1 at Blackburn Rovers after a bad mistake by keeper Jens Lehmann gifted Rovers an equaliser.   

"We really should have sewn the game up even before they'd crossed the halfway line. We've only got ourselves to blame - let's make no mistake about that," said United manager Alex Ferguson.   

An untidy Manchester derby at Eastlands was settled after 31 minutes by Geovanni, one of the numerous foreign signings made by former England boss Eriksson since taking charge last month.   

The Brazilian midfielder broke into space and delivered a low swerving shot that skimmed off the shin of United defender Nemanja Vidic before nestling inside the post.   

It was one of the few City attacks in a match dominated by a United side missing the injured Wayne Rooney and suspended Cristiano Ronaldo but including Owen Hargreaves in midfield for the first time since signing from Bayern Munich.   

United should have taken the lead in the opening minutes when Carlos Tevez and Paul Scholes combined to release Nani but his finish lacked conviction and was smothered by City keeper Kasper Schmeichel, son of United great Peter.   

Patrice Evra wasted another chance for United after a Nani back heel as United dominated the early exchanges, only to be stunned by Geovanni's opener in City's first attack.   

After the break Tevez glanced a close range shot just wide from a Ryan Giggs cross, Vidic headed against the crossbar and Tevez missed another late chance to grab his first United goal since joining from West Ham.   

Eriksson, enjoying a dream start to his return to English football, praised his defenders for a resolute performance.   

"Today we defended very well, our back line and goalkeeper were fantastic," the Swede told the BBC. "I'm very happy, nine points and three clean sheets.   

"We'll enjoy the night but the season is very long... today we had a bit of luck."