Manchester United celebrated a magnificent festive Manchester derby as a first-half goal blitz did the damage at the Etihad Stadium with the Reds running out 2-1 winners.
Goals in the first half an hour from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s attack of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial gave United much-needed breathing space on a nail-biting evening. Manchester City had the majority of the possession afterwards but it was stoic rearguard work from the Reds that kept the Blues at bay before a late Nicolas Otamendi header created a tense climax. But United held firm and made it back-to-back wins following the Old Trafford success against Spurs in midweek.
David De Gea probably wasn’t expecting such a watching brief during the opening half of the derby but it was his opposite number Ederson in City’s goal who had to earn the early money saving from Daniel James, Jesse Lingard and Martial.
The Blues looked very uneasy about United’s pace and counter-attacking and the panic spread to their midfielder Bernardo Silva in the 21st minute when he made a clumsy attempt to stop Rashford in the box.
VAR took a couple of minutes to clear up the penalty decision but it was rightly awarded. In the mood Mancunian Rashford was as calm as you like as he stroked the spot-kick home. United were rampant and soon after Rashford rolled a decent chance wide and then hit the bar as City wobbled and the homes fans became audibly irritated.
It was all United and Martial extended the lead after 29 minutes as he teamed up with James to cut City open and he swept in his goal at Ederson’s near post off the upright. It was United’s half by the length of the Mancunian Way.
United were pegged back apart from a couple of rare breaks but there was a dogged determination about Solskjaer’s side defending. However, the red wall was breached after 85 minutes when Otamendi powered in a header from a corner. Seconds later it took a brilliant low one-handed save from De Gea to deny City sub Riyad Mahrez and keep United’s lead intact.