LONDON • A week that started with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's position at Manchester United at risk ended with comprehensive victories over Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola and his position looking decidedly more secure.
The visitors tore apart the Premier League champions in the first half at the Etihad, with Marcus Rashford putting the Red Devils ahead from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute after being bundled over by Bernardo Silva.
The second goal inside six minutes came after a slick exchange of passes between Daniel James and Anthony Martial, who applied the final touch past Ederson.
City's first shot on target came only in the 34th minute and, although Nicolas Otamendi reduced the deficit five minutes from time, Guardiola's men could not stop United from sealing just their second away league win of the term.
On the 2-1 win on Saturday night, Solskjaer expressed his delight that his players were proving his critics wrong, claiming "there's more hard times for the doubters out there".
"I'm just pleased for the boys because that they get confirmation on the direction we're going," he said.
"That we do look like a Man United team and that's the big thing for me. We'll keep on working the way we're doing and we believe in what we're doing.
"It's not nice to see that City are so much better than us and I understand that teams will struggle here. But today, we've come away with some dignity in the right place."
On the other hand, City's title defence is imploding in a way Guardiola has never experienced before.
They have now suffered as many losses - four - as last season and their 32-point total is his lowest haul after 16 matches in 11 years in top-flight management.
While City defender Kyle Walker later insisted "we dominated the game", his manager was more downcast after Liverpool extended their lead over third-placed City to 14 points ahead of the derby.
Guardiola said: "It is not realistic to think about catching up."
The game was, however, marred by midfielders Fred and Jesse Lingard being targeted with racist abuse and objects by the home fans.
The incident came in the second half with United up 2-0 and a fan was caught on camera mimicking monkey gestures, which Guardiola slammed as "an act of ignorance".
Solskjaer also called the antics "unacceptable", demanding a life ban for the accused, who was yesterday arrested by police and identified by the Daily Mail as Anthony Burke, a 41-year-old former British army veteran.
Fred, who was struck by a stray object thrown from the stands, also told ESPN that "unfortunately, we are still in a backwards society", while Lingard tweeted "there is never ever a reason to be racist", calling the perpetrator "an idiot".
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, ASSOCIATED PRESS