Manchester City’s Premier League title hopes were in tatters after suffering a 2-1 derby defeat at home to Manchester United on Saturday, leaving Pep Guardiola’s champions 14 points behind leaders Liverpool.
Goals from Marcus Rashford (penalty) and Anthony Martial put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side 2-0 up at the break and City only pulled one back in the 85th minute through Nicolas Otamendi.
While over half the season remains it is hard to see how Liverpool can throw away this huge advantage, particularly given the way Guardiola’s side are struggling to get anywhere close to the performance levels of their back-to-back title campaigns.
This was City’s fourth defeat of the season and 32 points marks Guardiola’s worst return after the first 16 matches of a top-flight campaign in his managerial career.
“We have to try to continue, there are many things to play for. It’s difficult because the opponents are on an incredible run winning 15 games out of 16,” the Spaniard said.
“It is not time to think about that. Doesn’t matter if six, eight or 14 points we have to continue. We are a fantastic team.”
For United, up to fifth and within eight points of City, it was the finest Premier League win for their manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and capped a perfect week after they beat Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham on Wednesday.
“We’ll remember this one, we look so dangerous when we get he ball and go forward against arguably the best team in the world,” said the Norwegian.
United were a constant threat on the counter-attack with the pace of the front three but crucially showed organisation and resilience to cope with City’s response after the break.
Remarkably though, United could have had the game wrapped up inside half an hour, given the amount of chances they created as they swept aside City in midfield and exposed their shaky defence.
Daniel James and Martial tested City keeper Ederson before Rashford, in a rich vein of form, engineered the opener.
A VAR review ruled that Bernardo Silva had brought down Rashford inside the box and the United striker kept his cool to convert from the spot.
Reuters | MANCHESTER, England