Football: Manchester United end City's winning streak with derby victory

Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes (right) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal against Manchester City on March 7, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

MANCHESTER (REUTERS) - Manchester City's 21-match winning streak was ended by rivals Manchester United as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side enjoyed a 2-0 Premier League derby victory at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday (March 7).

United won thanks to an early penalty from Bruno Fernandes and a second-half strike from Luke Shaw with the result narrowing City's lead at the top of the table to 11 points over United with 10 games remaining.

It was City's first defeat in all competitions since Nov 21.

Pep Guardiola's side may prove to be uncatchable in the title race but United will take real belief for next season from a deserved victory.

Solskjaer is starting to become something of a nemesis for Guardiola - this was the Norwegian's fourth derby victory since he took over at Old Trafford in December 2018.

City were stunned after 34 seconds when referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the penalty spot after Gabriel Jesus had brought down Anthony Martial just inside the box.

Fernandes took the penalty with Ederson getting his right hand to the shot which squeezed in the corner to give the visitors the lead.

Shaw had a great chance to double their advantage shortly after the opener but the fullback shot straight at Ederson from a good position in the box.

City had an appeal for a penalty turned down when Raheem Sterling tangled with Fred in the area and Riyad Mahrez went close just before the break.

After the interval, Rodri went closest to a leveller with a side-footed shot from the edge of the box which struck the top of the post.

Yet it was some smart thinking from United's goalkeeper Dean Henderson, deputising again for David De Gea, that undid City for the second goal.

Henderson threw a clever and fast ball out to Shaw on the left, who burst past two City defenders and, after a swift exchange with Marcus Rashford, drove into the bottom far-corner.

United solid at back

Martial should have made it 3-0 when he found himself clear on goal after good work from Scott McTominay but he shot straight at Ederson.

City had some moments in the final stages - substitute Phil Foden's shot on the turn flashed wide and Sterling mis-kicked from close range - but they never found the strutting dominance of their recent wins.

United were solid at the back and crucially closed down the space behind the front line, where City tend to dominate, with McTominay and Fred taking charge of that zone.

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling (left) misses a chance during the match against Manchester United on March 7, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

Yet Solskjaer's side, especially in the second half, also attacked with intensity and purpose with Martial delivering one of his most productive all-round performances.

"They are difficult on the ball and tough to play against. Today we did almost everything perfect," said Fernandes.

"Scoring in the first minute was perfect, we had more space to counter. We remained focused until the end of the game. When we defend well we know we'll have chances to score," he said.

As for the title race, Fernandes clearly has not given up hope just yet. "The league is not a sprint. It's a marathon. We have to do our best and not think about others," he said.

Guardiola was generous in his assessment of his cross-city rivals.

"It was a fantastic game. United make incredibly high pressing and they are so fast on the counter. We played good. Unfortunately we couldn't be clinical up front so we congratulate United," he said.

"We will be the news because we lost. But the news is 21 victories in a row. There are still 30 points to play and we have to start to win again."

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