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City lost their first match of 2021 as United stopped their winning run at 21 games on Sunday
Manchester City’s pursuit of a world record run of victories was brought to a thudding end at 21 games as Manchester United won 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. The result may do little to dictate the course of the title race with City still 11 points clear of the Red Devils in second, but it was an impressive feather in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s cap as he overcame Pep Guardiola’s side for the fourth time in eight meetings.
Throughout their remarkable winning streak City had not found themselves trailing, indeed they had to go back to Nov. 21 for the last time they had a deficit to overhaul. That record lasted only a few seconds against United as Gabriel Jesus brought Anthony Martial down and Bruno Fernandes scored from the spot in the second minute.
City dominated possession but were confined to half chances until the start of the second half, when Rodri’s curling effort from the edge of the area bounced off the crossbar. Rather than begin a period of real pressure on the United goal, the hosts instead continued in their unassertive, tired build-up, looking a shadow of the side who had rifled through so many teams in recent weeks.
Their lax defense in central areas was ruthlessly punished by Luke Shaw, who charged through the City midfield, dovetailed with Marcus Rashford and fired a low shot through a mass of bodies and beyond Ederson. Anthony Martial could and should have killed the game off but sidefooted too close to the goalkeeper.
Not until the closing stages did City really look like scoring, substitute Phil Foden smashing wide inside the area and Raheem Sterling failing to connect with Kyle Walker’s cross from the right when any touch would have likely ended in a goal.
Craving even more coverage of the world’s game? Listen below and subscribe to ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.Here’s how the players rated at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City ratings
Was not far from keeping Fernandes’ penalty out and did well to deny Martial what would have been United’s third but there was only so much he could do.
Not at his best and lucky that he even lasted 65 minutes after contributing to both United goals as they emerged from City’s right.
Arguably City’s best performer with a solid defensive display that was hard to pick many — if any — faults from.
Although he did not suffer as much as Cancelo did, it was a difficult afternoon, and he was caught flat-footed more than once due to United’s pace in attack.
Reasonably good first half and then faded out, like most of his teammates, after the second United goal and got sloppy as the game wore on.
Something of a passenger for most of the match as he was partly at fault in both of the goals and was more reactive than proactive from start to finish.
Kevin De Bruyne
Far from his usual best and it prevented some potential City attacks from coming off against a vibrant United.
Left his shooting boots at home and rarely tested Henderson as City were wasteful in front of goal.
Defensive contribution was lacking and lost his battle with Shaw, who scored United’s second goal to decide the contest.
Lost possession, conceded the penalty and was inept in front of goal but surprisingly lasted 70 minutes despite his poor record in big games.
Wan-Bissaka once again gave him problems, and nothing clicked for City in attack with Jesus arguably the bigger culprit on this occasion.
Kyle Walker (sub, Cancelo, 65′)
Replaced Cancelo after 65 minutes when the damage had already been done but still provided a great chance for Sterling to halve the deficit.
Phil Foden (sub, Jesus, 70′)
Got 20 minutes in Jesus’ place and worked hard to create openings but it was not long enough to help spark a turnaround.
Manager – Pep Guardiola
Not reactive enough as his changes, had he made them earlier, might have resulted in a narrower final score or even a draw.
Manchester United ratings
City’s shots did not greatly test him for most of the game but he dealt with them convincingly just as he did with every cross that came in his direction. His swift, accurate distribution was crucial in United’s second.
Not once did Wan-Bissaka make life easier for Sterling. The full-back won all his duels, three interceptions and plenty of battles for supremacy down the United right.
Lindelof was consistently in position to get close to any City shots, throwing himself in the direction of any danger that came United’s way, particularly early efforts from Rodri and Jesus.
After a harsh yellow card in the first half, Maguire dealt convincingly with the heavy pressure on his penalty area. Of United’s first 12 clearances eight were made by a captain who seemed to be magnetically linked to any cross that City delivered.
He had regained possession on five occasions inside the first 23 minutes as he performed impressively to repel Mahrez down the City right. It was not always perfect, on one notable occasion the Algerian sent Shaw to his knees with some quick footwork, but more often than not United’s left-back came out on top of their early encounters. Add to that a superb low goal that he made and finished and he must surely be the game’s man of the match.
He may not have had the technical excellence of the midfielders in blue but McTominay worked himself to the bone from minute one, chasing every lost cause, offering ballast to Wan-Bissaka and Shaw or dropping into the box alongside the center-backs.
A pressing machine early on, whenever the ball came to De Bruyne the Brazilian was looking to cut off his passing lanes. Put the ball at his feet and he was rather underwhelming but today was a day for United to get things right in defense and Fred was valuable there.
No matter what the context it seemed almost impossible to convince James to abandon his wide position on the right flank. He was staying put, looking to spread Zinchenko wide and open space for Fernandes between the full-back and center-back.
Putting his hands to his ears suggested that Fernandes was acutely aware of the questions asked about his record against top sides, to which one would point out that he is still without an open play goal against the big six even if he scored his second penalty. As United held on to the lead he had earned them Fernandes was excellent, a devil in the press who had recovered possession seven times in the first hour.
Early on he looked to be struggling with the shoulder injury that may eventually require surgery but there was no chance of him allowing it to limit his impact on the game. He set Martial on his path to earn United their early penalty and dovetailed wonderfully with Shaw down the left.
The moment in the 55th minute when first Stones and then Rodri simply clattered against Martial without laying a boot on him typified the Frenchman at his dynamic, explosive best. There were moments in between that will doubtless have frustrated Solskjaer, a moment he simply stopped running after being denied a penalty springing to mind, but they were worth it for the scything runs that gave Dias and Stones more difficulties than any striker for some time. However he could and should have killed the game off in the 68th minute.
Mason Greenwood (sub, Rashford, 73′)
Greenwood ran his channels energetically when United were able to counter into the space City left them. He rarely got into a position to add further misery on the team in sky blue.
Manager – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Solskjaer threw something of a tactical spanner into the works with his response to his side’s opening goal, instructing his side to press high up the pitch and spoil City’s rhythm. It worked impressively well as the United boss took his record against City to an impressive four wins, one draw and three defeats.