Foden wins City spoils in Manchester derby to keep pressure on Liverpool | first division


At least it wasn't another abject humiliation. That was the crumb of consolation manchester united Point of view. In four of the previous six derbies (and that's not including the FA Cup final at the end of last season, which Manchester City won 2-1) United had been gutted in appalling fashion. Their supporters even had the thrill of seeing Marcus Rashford give them an early lead with a furious long-range shot.

It was yet another defeat, another time when the gap to the top was drawn in painful detail, as it always was going to be. United's ambition was limited to fighting to remain compact and trying to achieve something on the counterattack. It's not what they should be dealing with and Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the new minority owner, knows it.

United would be affected and City would begin a potentially decisive month with the result they needed to respond. Liverpool win at Nottingham Forest on Saturday and it was Phil Foden who made the difference.

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

Erling Haaland I would add the third in stoppage time and it was certainly a good way for City to prepare for next Sunday's clash against Liverpool at Anfield. They will also play Arsenal here at the end of the month. They have now won 17 and drawn two of their last 19 games in all competitions. Who can stop them?

Ten Hag had very few options with his starting eleven given his injury list, unless you count Sofyan Amrabat at left back as one or Antony at right wing as another, but Ten Hag had none. And so Victor Lindelöf remained as left back, Jonny Evans as central defender and the surprise was Bruno Fernandes in a false nine role. There would be an even bigger one in the eighth minute.

Erling Haaland celebrates his goal with Phil Foden. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

It is fair to say that Rashford had brought the focus on yourself giving an interview on Thursday in which he strongly advised no one to question his commitment to United, following their poor performance in the midweek FA Cup win at Forest. No one was actually doing that. Instead, they wondered why he was having such a bad season.

Rashford needed to show something and he did so with one of the best goals of his career, an incredibly sweet shot from 25 yards that rose fiercely and went in off the underside of Ederson's crossbar. The doorman barely saw him. It was Fernandes who created the opportunity, after containing Rúben Dias after a high pass from André Onana.

Rashford also mixed in the bad during a frenetic opening when United looked threatening on the break. He could have scored again when Dias slipped and Fernandes played a quick pass. Rashford had no one in front of him at halfway but his first touch was poor, allowing Kyle Walker to attack. The worst came later when Rashford kicked the air and then fell after Fernandes had crossed. The angle was not unpleasant for Rashford. It was considered a good opportunity.

Guardiola did what was expected of him. He asked John Stones to advance into midfield while he gave Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva plenty of license in the central areas. City dominated possession, pressing high and creating chances before the break, as United repeatedly threw bodies before shots. Onana was also excellent.

The goalkeeper's handling was reassuringly good from United's point of view, as he made three great saves in the first half, two to deny Foden, the second when the City midfielder was clean. The other saw him dive to his left to avoid a volley from Rodri.

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When Haaland made a barely believable error in first-half stoppage time, the thought emerged that it could be United's day. Foden had headed a floated ball from Rodri and Haaland was alone at point-blank range, jumping to cushion the volley into the empty net. He couldn't suppress it. We almost needed to see replays to prove it. Yes, City's goal eater had really dodged it.

Guardiola advised calm. He would arrive for his team in the second half. United's patched-up defense surely couldn't hold out. The equalizer was another thing of beauty, Foden cutting inside Lindelöf, no red shirts closing in on him, the stroke of the greatest purity. Foden had glowed with menace. He now had his moment from outside the area.

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

The pattern had been set from the first whistle: City pushing, United looking to attack, hoping to strike the counterattack. But as the game progressed, there would be almost none of the latter left. The second half was a siege on United's goal.

Ten Hag introduced Willy Kambwala at right back, switched Diogo Dalot to left back to deal with Foden and Lindelöf moved to centre-half. So Guardiola simply moved Foden to the other side and that was where he scored again.

Foden exchanged passes with the substitute, Julián Álvarez, and saw how the space opened up, the finishing being a mere formality. City deserved the extra goal that came when Rodri robbed Amrabat, who came on as a substitute. Haaland was clear and this time he was not going to fail.

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