City Win in Old Trafford

City Win in Old Trafford

The first half fireworks started early then came the rain. Derby day is always a tense yet festive affair in Manchester and Saturday’s match at Old Trafford was no different. There was a certain added pressure in the atmosphere considering the tenuous position that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finds himself in with a big money team that has been underperforming by all accounts and analysis. There is also the added drama of Cristiano Ronaldo almost signing with City and then leaving them at the altar and spurning Guardiola at the last moment to reunite with his long-lost lover Manchester United.

Man City started quick. Bernardo Silva registered a shot early in the 3rd minute that went out of play towards the Stretford End and then in the 6th minute, from a set piece free kick, Macguire almost got free of Ruben Dias for a header that could have tested Ederson but ended up striking Macguire on his outstretched arm and ultimately fluttered harmlessly out of play and into the East Stand. Immediately thereafter City started to raise their level and increased their attacking pressure on the Red Devils.

On the ensuing Cityzen attack, Gabriel Jesus ran up the right channel and laid off a pass to the speedy Kyle Walker who fizzed in a wicked cross with bad intentions that found the boot of Gundogan who played it back beautifully to Bernardo Silva who surely would have scored a tap in if not for the desperate defending of Lindelof. It was a warning shot from City of things to come in this match and it seemed like maybe the crisis of that chance had been averted for United but City quickly won the ball back as Rodri canceled United’s potential counter attack and restarted City’s attack in one swinging motion of his right boot. The pass found Cancelo who aggressively attacked the left channel from a narrow angle and delivered a nasty cross into the box that Bailly had to deal with and unfortunately for him and his side, he put it into the back of his own net. The brave City fans who dared to set foot in Old Trafford were absolutely buzzing and going bonkers in the away fans section. The reigning champions were up 1-0 on their hated cross town rivals.

United played with a back three for most of the match and didn’t support their midfield as much, so Manchester City absolutely dominated possession and attacked from the open spaces in the wide areas of the pitch. There were long spells when United was penned in and locked into a defensive position as City came again and again with attack wave after attack wave. It was relentless and felt like an uninterrupted Call of Duty or Star Wars Battlefornt challenge at times. If not for the other worldly effort of the legendary Spanish goalkeeper De Gea, City could have scored 3 or 4 more goals before the halftime whistle, but it was only 1-0 and United were definitely still in the game for the moment.

CR7 is so good at football it is scary and unreal. He has seemingly almost singlehandedly been saving the job of OGS with come from behind heroics due to his next level goal scoring prowess. In one moment of pure class in the 26th minute, Ronaldo did get free of Man City’s defense and received an on-target cross with tons of pace from Luke Shaw. Ronaldo pulled off an amazing redirection volley with even more pace that I still don’t know how Ederson reacted in time to save. It seemed like the equalizing goal for sure that would get the fans at Old Trafford rocking, but it was not to be.

As it would turn out, that was the Red’s only shot on goal of the day. At the same time it also felt like this match was shaping up to be another match where Man City had all of the possession (68%), all of the corner kicks (9 to 1), all of the shots (16 to 5), all of the shots on goal (9 to 1), and still allowed a team to hang around the whole match and possibly steal it at the end. However, an absolutely horrendous defensive breakdown and gaffe by United’s back line defenders Macguire and Shaw occured as they did not deal with yet another dangerous cross from Joao Cancelo and allowed a 2nd goal by the Sky Blues just before halftime. The always hustling Bernardo Silva wanted it more and the spidey senses of Shaw did not sense the danger and instead of playing it safely out of bounds to force a corner kick, Shaw allowed Silva to get a touch on the ball and it bounced off an unsuspecting De Gea’s chest and trickled past the goaline for the game sealing score. No one reacted immediately except for Bernardo because everyone in the stadium was stunned by what had just happened. That kind of defensive mistake should never happen to a club playing in England’s topflight league, let alone a big club like ManU. With that said, credit must be given where it is due. The pass from Joao Cancelo was amazing. He strikes the ball like left winger instead of a left back. Cancelo’s ball control and positional instincts are like that of an attacking player. The fact that the Cityzens got him from Juventus for basically nothing (Danilo) is still unbelievable to me.

Pep Guardiola was a very happy manager and the City fans sang and danced throughout an otherwise boring snooze fest in the 2nd half. The Reds got away with a clear tripping foul on Jesus that VAR reviewed and surprisingly didn’t award a penalty. However, a third goal would have made no difference in the final result. It was clear all afternoon that City came to play to win and we’re left to wonder what United’s game plan and intentions were. The calls for OGS to be sacked will certainly grow louder and louder after Saturday’s Manchester Derby.

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