City heap misery on United in one-sided Manchester derby
David Moyes' team outclassed as visitors to Old Trafford assert title claims
Agencies in Manchester
Edin Dzeko scored twice as Manchester City heaped more misery on Manchester United with a 3-0 victory on Tuesday to move to within three points of Premier League leaders Chelsea with two games in hand.
Dzeko needed just 43 seconds to give City the lead in the Manchester derby at United’s Old Trafford ground.
Rafael’s last-ditch tackle blocked David Silva’s run into the box but Samir Nasri hit the post and Dzeko followed up to side-foot in the rebound.
The Bosnian striker was on target again in the 56th minute when he dropped marker Rio Ferdinand to volley in Nasri’s corner,
Yaya Toure rubbed salt in United’s wounds with a third goal in the 90th minute as Manuel Pellegrini’s men, now second in the table, completed a derby double following a 4-1 win over United at Eastlands in September.
It was yet another night to forget for United boss David Moyes, in his first season in charge of the fading English champions following the retirement of Alex Ferguson, British football’s most successful manager.
This result left United 12 points off the top four and effectively needing to win this season’s Champions League, where they face holders Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, in order to qualify for a place among Europe’s elite next term.
They are even struggling to qualify for the Europa League and are already guaranteed to finish the campaign with their lowest points haul in the Premier League era.
City, by contrast, have it in their own hands to go and clinch a second league title in three years.
“We didn’t start the game well,” Moyes said. “They were very good but we grew into the game and up into the second goal we had a fighting chance.
“I think we have played a very good side, playing at the sort of level we are aspiring to. We need to come up a couple of levels ourselves because at the moment we are not there.”
Refuting suggestions his players aren’t playing for him, he added: “I take responsibility for the team, I always will do. I don’t think tonight was in any way a lack of effort or lack of commitment from the players; in fact I thought they were fully there but in some areas we didn’t come up to scratch.”
City manager Pellegrini said: “We know we can score lots of goals. We were very compact and worked completely in attacking and defending. We are a very balanced team at the moment.”
This was supposed to be one of City’s toughest fixtures in a run-in that also includes matches at title rivals Arsenal and Liverpool. In truth, though, it will go down as one of its most routine wins of the campaign, with United outclassed from the first whistle and barely threatening City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
With United struggling badly in Moyes’ first season and the neighbours embroiled in the title race, Pellegrini raised the temperature in English football’s northern hotbed by saying in February: “If we only consider this season, there is just one club in Manchester – and it is ours.”
Not since the 1977-78 season have City held such a dominant cushion over United in terms of league points heading into a derby. It now stands at 15 points.
United, buoyed by two straight wins after the humiliating 3-0 home loss to Liverpool 10 days ago, had to wait five weeks to actively reply to Pellegrini’s taunt but City pressed home their superiority without hesitation.
“We can’t lose six homes games in a season and we have to put that right,” United striker Wayne Rooney said, “and make this a place which teams fear again.”