Sunday, 20 March 2016

City 0-1 United: Reaction and analysis as Reds take the derby

Without Marouane Fellaini's cumbersome and clumsy presence, the difference in United was marked as Louis van Gaal's big game brilliance again worked a treat. 

Having bowed out of the Europa League on Thursday and going into the international break off the back of a hectic period, this was a showing of resilience, discipline and character as the Reds moved to within a point of fourth. 

Morgan Schneiderlin has, like many of his team mates, endured something of an indifferent season but had his best game in a United shirt to date at the Etihad. 

Much better in a more forward role, his engine and energy allowed greater fluidity and his range of passing - in tandem with the equally excellent Michael Carrick - utilised the pace and width provided by Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. 

Plenty worried that  Carrick might struggle in the heat of an away derby but he was arguably the team's best performer and kept the City midfield in check.

Following a run of eight successive starts that left him looking jaded, there had been calls for Rashford to be rested going into the international break but he had a new lease of life at the Etihad.

Not only did he score the decisive goal, but his work rate and selfless running belied a bout of cramp as he ran to the corner to hold up the ball in the final seconds of stoppage time.

The 'Rashford for England' clamour may grow after another flash of brilliance, but it may be too soon for Roy Hodgson to be tempted into calling him up.
He is undoubtedly a precocious talent and one thing's for sure: if it does not happen now it surely will before too long. 

United's front three must have been one of the youngest in derby history but Jesse Lingard excelled in an unorthodox central position to play dangerously and intelligently whilst Anthony Martial constantly caused City problems.

Juan Mata came out on top in the battle of the Spaniards against David Silva, and whilst he drifted in and out of the game before being taken off, he provided the pass from which Rashford slotted in the winner. 

Playing 80 minutes against Sergio Aguero when on a yellow is far from ideal but Chris 'Mike' Smalling was back to his imperious best with a dominant defensive showing as United came under siege in the second half to rightly earn the man of the match award. 

He's had his critics but Daley Blind proved a solid sidekick for Smalling as he contained Sergio Aguero to great effect in a battle that turned feisty late in the first half.













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