MANCHESTER — Manchester is blue, once again. On Sunday Manchester City beat Manchester United 1-0 in a fiery encounter at the Etihad Stadium, winning their fourth-straight Manchester derby and that’s now six victories in their last seven matches against their bitter rivals.
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The game-winning goal of the 168th derby arrived in the 63rd minute as Sergio Aguero clipped home to send the home fans wild. United were reduced to 10-men just before half time as Chris Smalling was shown two yellow cards but even though they were down a man, Angel Di Maria, Robin van Persie and Marouane Fellaini all had good chances to equalize late in the game.
With the win City are up to third in the table, six points behind leaders Chelsea. United continue their worst-ever start to a PL season, they drop to ninth on 13 points.
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The game began at a frantic pace as United had plenty of the ball but City looked razor sharp in attack. In the 8th minute Aguero was set free on the left side of the box and the Argentine attacker skipped away from Antonio Valencia but saw his shot beat away by David De Gea from close range. At the other end United’s first chance arrived soon after as Di Maria chipped a ball into van Persie which the Dutchman chested down to Januzaj but he dragged his effort wide.
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Things calmed down a little before half time but then the game sprung into life as first Aguero wriggled free of Marcos Rojo but hit a tame shot at De Gea. Soon after Jesus Navas had a glorious chance but sidefooted straight at De Gea, before United’s ‘keeper made a fine sprawling stop from Aguero just seconds later. Both players needed lengthy treatment after that collision were fine to carry on. Mayhem. But no goals. A flurry of yellow cards before the break to Daley Blind and Smalling cranked up the heat inside the Etihad. Smalling’s first yellow came from a silly block on Hart as City’s ‘keeper tried to kick the ball away, and moments later United were down to 10-men as Smalling slid in needlessly on James Milner and was shown a second yellow. No complaints.
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Right on half time Rojo looked to have hacked down Yaya Toure as a clipped ball set him clean through on goal, but referee Michael Oliver waved penalty shouts away. A slow-burner heated up rather quickly in the Manchester derby. After the interval City continued to push against 10-man United, as Michael Carrick came on for Januzaj and played in central defense. However van Gaal was forced into another defensive reshuffle after 55 minutes as Rojo looked to have popped his shoulder out when diving in for a challenge.
Young Paddy McNair came on to partner Carrick as City bombarded United’s makeshift defense. In the 60th minute Di Maria whipped in a great free kick to the back post which somehow eluded everyone as the Argentine threw his arms up in the air in frustration. City huffed and puffed as United showed little attacking intent and in the 63rd minute the opening goal of the game arrived. Toure picked the ball up on the inside left position and threaded an inch-perfect pass into Gael Clichy. The French full back pulled it back for Aguero to clip home and send the Etihad wild. 1-0 to the Citizens.
Instead of building on that lead City sat back and United almost equalized with 20 minutes to go as van Persie wriggled free and fired in a low shot which Hart stopped with his legs and the resulting corner came to nothing. City rattled the post through Navas late on as they pushed to kill off the game. United weren’t giving up as Fellaini and Di Maria both went close, the latter forcing a great fingertip stop from Hart.
However City held on to record their fourth-straight league win over United. That hasn’t happened since 1970. Manchester is definitely blue.
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kolarov, Demichelis, Kompany; Fernando, Yaya Toure; Navas, Milner (Nasri, 70′), Jovetic (Dzeko, 71′); Aguero (Fernandinho, 84′)
Goal: Aguero (63′)
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Rojo (McNair, 56′), Shaw; Blind, Fellaini; Januzaj (Carrick, 43′), Rooney, Di Maria; van Persie (Wilson, 82′)