Manchester United 0-3 Manchester City: Dzeko’s double hands City derby delight (video)

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Manchester City prevailed in the 167th edition of the Manchester derby, as they beat Manchester United 3-0 away at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Edin Dzeko stole the headlines with two clinical finishes in each half, to keep City’s title charge on course and leave fierce rivals United languishing way down the standings. Yaya Toure’s late drive sealed the impressive victory for City, who have now won three-straight PL games away at the Theater of Dreams.

From the get-go Manuel Pellegrini’s City were the better side, as they started brightly in each half as Dzeko scored in the first minute of the match with a close range finish after a flowing City move and then finished the Red Devils off with a calm finish from a set piece just after the break.

(MORE: Three things we learned in Man City’s derby demolition of Man United)

With their fifth derby win in the last six derbies, City now move into second place in the PL standings and are just three points behind leaders Chelsea with two games in hand. As for United, they’re steady in seventh and have now lost 10 PL games for the first-time in history as David Moyes’ side were second-best throughout.

Man City made a lighting quick start as Dzeko opened the scoring within 43 seconds of the kick off. David Silva burst into the box and Rafael stopped him with a last-ditch tackle but the ball then broke to Samir Nasri, who shifted the ball onto his right foot and struck the post but the rebound came straight to Dzeko who tapped home from two-yards out to give City the perfect start.

In the 9th minute Silva intercepted the ball after a poor giveaway 30-yards out which saw the Spaniard surge towards the edge of the box and take it past two United defenders but his tame effort was blocked, as the Citizens missed a golden chance to go 2-0 ahead.

(MORE: David Moyes takes responsibility for ‘disappointing’ derby before walking out of press conference)

Silva was popping everywhere as City were dominating the early stages and United just couldn’t get a grip on proceedings. In the 17th minute great link up play between Yaya Toure and Silva link up saw the latter play a great ball to Dzeko, and although the Bosnian directed his shot towards the bottom corner David De Gea got across to save well to his left to make up for his initial giveaway.

source: Getty Images
City celebrate their third-straight derby win, as the Citizens rub salt into United’s wounds.

Then the game began to open up, as a clearance in his own six-yard box from Vincent Kompany halted United’s advances after Wayne Rooney had found Juan Mata unmarked on the left side of the box. The game ebbed and flowed, as both sets of supporters urged their teams to attack in a breathless opening 45 minutes at Old Trafford. That passion spilled over in the 30th minute, as Marouane Fellaini barged into Pablo Zabaleta and shoved his forearm and elbow straight into the face of City’s right back. Referee Michael Oliver saw the whole thing, but only booked Fellaini as United were lucky to still have eleven men on the pitch.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Manchester United got better as the first half wore on, as they were lucky to be just 1-0 down following City’s early onslaught. Fellaini had a shot which Joe Hart saved easily before the half hour mark, then Mata fired way over when well placed before the interval, as City comfortably protected their one goal lead as the teams went in at the break.

City started the second half just as they’d begun the first, as they took the game to United. A vicious out-swinging corner from the right found Fernandinho in the six-yard box but the Brazilian saw the ball late and couldn’t direct his header under the crossbar as it flew over.

Soon after City did double their lead as Dzeko’s controlled volley from another inch-perfect Nasri corner made it 2-0 to the Citizens and sent the away fans wild. Nasri’s out-swinging set piece saw Dzeko steal a march on his marker to coolly volley home his 20th goal of the season and give City a commanding lead against their fierce rivals.

United tried to fight back, but for large spells of the second half ‘Ole’s’ rang out from the away end as City’s players kept the ball with ease. Welbeck went close to halving the deficit in the 71st minute, as Rafael’s cross from the right was behind United’s striker but he cleverly sent a flick towards goal with his backheel but Hart reacted superbly to claw the effort away.

City defended well and kept their clean sheet intact with a resolute defensive display as United tried to throw everything they had at their neighbors. But the game ended the way it started, City dominating proceedings, as Toure reacted first to James Milner’s deflected shot and the Ivorian smashed home a low shot in stoppage time to hammer the final nail in United’s derby day coffin.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Jones, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley (Kagawa, 45′), Fellaini (Valencia, 66′); Mata, Welbeck (Hernandez, 77′), Rooney

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri (Milner, 74′), Silva, Navas (Javi Garcia, 68′), Dzeko (Negredo, 79′)

Goals: Dzeko (1′ & 55′), Toure (90′)

Lletget diagnosed with foot sprain, escaping further damage

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Word has arrived from the LA Galaxy camp that will see USMNT fans feel relieved as Sebastian Lletget has escaped the news many feared.

The young attacker was impressive in the first 18 minutes of the United States’ 6-0 win over Honduras, but was injured minutes after scoring the opening goal and could not continue. Replays showed that Lletget got his foot caught underneath a defender in the process of a hard challenge on the right wing.

There was concern that Lletget would be out for a significant amount of time, but the Galaxy announced that after testing over the weekend, Lletget did not suffer any structural damage and was diagnosed with a left foot sprain.

[ MORE: USMNT adds Paul Arreola to roster, drops Lletget, Brooks, Morris ]

Lletget will visit a specialist on Monday to determine a plan for recovery, and it’s possible that he will still have to miss some time in the near future. The Galaxy visit Vancouver on Saturday, and his status for that match has to be considered up in the air. They then host Montreal on April 7.

While Lletget obviously misses out on the next USMNT game at Panama on Tuesday having already been dumped from the roster, he will most definitely be available for the June games against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico, and will likely be an option for Bruce Arena given the manager’s history with Lletget at Los Angeles.

The United States have been struck with a collection of injuries that all occurred just before the international break, hampering the squad significantly. Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, and Fabian Johnson all went down in the days before reporting for international duty, and the team lost Lletget and John Brooks in the Honduras win. Lletget’s departure could see Alejandro Bedoya into the starting lineup on Tuesday, with the Union midfielder having replaced Lletget in the Honduras match. Also in contention is Jermaine Jones, who could come in after his suspension and push Darlington Nagbe onto the wing.

Southgate can see Defoe in England squad long-term

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Gareth Southgate praised Jermain Defoe after his contributions to England’s 2-0 win over Lithuania on Sunday, but accidentally put a condition on his position in the squad.

The 34-year-old scored the opening goal and contributed heavily to the buildup of Jamie Vardy‘s score, and Southgate was happy that his decision to play an in-form striker paid off.

“If he scores like he is in the Premier League, there’s no reason why he wouldn’t be,” Southgate said. “We’re never able to pick a full cohort, so it’s important we can call upon the likes of Jermain and he can have the impact like he did today.

“I think we’ve got to look every time we get together as to who is in form. I don’t know if we can have a distinct pecking order because players who are playing well deserve the opportunity. If we are going to be successful, we have to have that competition for places. The reality is we will always lose players to injury.”

[ MORE: Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery before England game ]

A reporter asked him to clarify why he specified that Defoe should be scoring in the Premier League, and with his club Sunderland under heavy threat of relegation, Southgate admitted he let one slip.

“I walked into that,” Southgate said. “I guess the ideal world for all our players is they are playing regularly at a high level. The flip-side is we don’t have a huge pool of players to pick from.  We have to balance off a few different things. I can’t constrain myself on selection entirely, but I know ideally what I’d like to have. His performances and his goalscoring form this season have counted for him.”

Defoe has 14 goals in 28 Premier League appearances for Sunderland this season, but he’s proved the Black Cats’ only threat as they sit bottom of the league table with 20 points. Defoe has become the center of opposition game plans, and as a result he’s slowed down, with just two goals in his last seven games, and the club has little else to pick up the slack.

Still, at 34 years old, many wonder how much longer Defoe can contribute, and if he’ll be a viable option for next year’s World Cup.

Group F gets messy as Slovakia and Scotland grab wins

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England is in control at the top of Group F, but below them things are beginning to get complicated.

Despite the absence of Marek Hamsik due to a last-minute injury, Slovakia defeated Malta 3-1. They took the lead just 97 seconds in as Vladimir Weiss put the visitors in front with a beautiful curling strike from outside the box. Malta struck back through domestic striker Jean Paul Farrugia in the 14th minute, but that was all Malta could muster.

Slovakia would go ahead just before halftime as FC Copenhagen midfielder Jan Gregus put them in front in the 41st minute. The speculative shot from Gregus came from a great distance out, and as it skipped across the ground, it appeared Malta goalkeeper Andrew Hogg saw it late, as his dive was poor and it skipped off his hands and in.

Both teams ended with 10 men on the field, as Farrugia was sent off with 16 minutes to go for a second yellow, and Adam Nemec saw the same fate in injury time, but before he was sent off, Nemec was there to kill the game off in the 84th minute.

That put Slovakia up to nine points, and it moved them into second place thanks to late drama in Glasgow. Chris Martin gave Scotland all three points with an 88th minute strike as the home side won 1-0 over Slovenia, who dropped from second to third with the loss. The Fulham striker got a beautiful feed through the back line from Stuart Armstrong, and while his shot wasn’t terribly accurate, it was enough to win the game as Slovenia goalkeeper Matus Kozacik gave it a poor effort.

The win for Scotland pulls them above Lithuania and into fourth, a point back of Slovenia in third.

Wasteful Poland snatches late 2-1 win at Montenegro

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Poland was in control for much of the game, but failed to finish in front of net until Borussia Dortmund full-back Lukasz Piszczek found the winner with eight minutes to go as the visitors increased their lead at the top of World Cup qualification Group E.

Robert Lewandowski put Poland in front five minutes before halftime with a brilliant free-kick that left Montenegran goalkeeper Mladen Blozovic completely baffled, but Montenegro looked sturdy at the back for much of the game and dangerous on the counter. They’d hit just past the hour mark as Stefan Mugosa headed in to level the score.

Lewandowski had a pair of massive chances in the second half, but couldn’t get either to go down as Blozovic was there to turn him away, and Montenegran defenders cleared off the line as well. Luckily for Poland, they had Piszczek who burst down the right to beat Aleksandar Sofranac, and he produced a stunning finish looped over the closing Blozovic from a tight angle, dinked off the far post, and into the back of the net.

That would do it for Montenegro who had little attacking ability outside of their countering abilities, and with Poland happy to ease out the clock, the hosts didn’t have enough.

The win pushes Poland six points clear at the top of Group E, a sizeable lead with five matches remaining. The battle for the second-place spot is tight, with Montenegro still in command on seven points, level with Denmark but ahead on goal differential. Armenia and Romania are even with six points each.