Advantage Pep: first blood to Guardiola as Kevin De Bruyne inspires Manchester City derby win over United
The Belgium international and Kelechi Iheanacho scored in the first half at Old Trafford, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic netting for Jose Mourinho’s side
Pep Guardiola drew first blood in his renewed managerial duel with Jose Mourinho as Manchester City deservedly won an absorbing Premier League derby 2-1 against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Kevin de Bruyne, who was never appreciated by Mourinho when they were at Chelsea together, proved instrumental in City’s magnificent win after scoring the opener and making the second for Kelechi Iheanacho before half-time.
It was the first encounter between Guardiola and Mourinho, former El Clasico sparring partners, since 2013. The clash also gave the former Barcelona coach an eighth win in 17 encounters with the former Real Madrid manager.
“We are happy. I think the spectators enjoyed it because it was open until the end,” Guardiola told the BBC. “First half we were better. In the second half, it was difficult. We had counter-attacks and we didn’t finish.”
With his side being outpassed and outclassed in a one-sided first half, Zlatan Ibrahimovic brought United back into the match just before the break after a mistake by City’s new goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
Bravo’s error on a hugely unconvincing debut inspired a much more even second half and Ibrahimovic had goal ruled out for offside before man of the match De Bruyne hit the post as City maintained their 100 per cent record this season to move three points clear at the top of the table.
City’s win, their 50th in competitive derby matches, saw them end United’s perfect start to the season.
It left Guardiola’s side and Chelsea, who visit Swansea City on Sunday, as the only teams in the Premier League with 100 per cent records.
Mourinho was angered by referee Mark Clattenburg’s decision not to award the home side a penalty after Bravo committed a wild challenge on Wayne Rooney inside the City area.
“Claudio Bravo is a penalty and a red card,” he said.
“In the first half we were below the level to play this match,” he said. “We lost easy balls and let them recover the ball. We paid for our mistakes.”
Mourinho’s decision to start Mkhitaryan and Lingard in place of Anthony Martial and Juan Mata was a surprise and it backfired as City took a deserved 15th-minute lead.
Aleksandar Kolarov’s high ball was flicked on by Iheanacho – in for the suspended Sergio Aguero – and De Bruyne beat Daley Blind to the ball before clinically wrong-footing David de Gea.
FT | Utd 1-2 City
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 10, 2016
United had barely had a kick and Rooney’s frustration showed as he grappled with Guardiola for the ball at a throw-in before catching Fernandinho late.
There was worse to come for the United skipper as City made it 2-0 as Iheanacho tapped in from six yards after De Bruyne’s low curler struck the base of the left-hand post.
Mourinho wore a face of thunder on the touchline, but Bravo gifted his side a lifeline three minutes before half-time.
The Chilean allowed Rooney’s deep free kick to slip from his grasp and Ibrahimovic produced an athletic volley to spear the loose ball into the net.
It was an unexpected foothold for the hosts and they finished the first half strongly.
Rooney crossed for Ibrahimovic to head at Bravo and the Swedish striker then saw an effort blocked by John Stones after the City goalkeeper failed to field a stray ball.
Mourinho repaired his error at half-time, introducing Ander Herrera and terrace darling Marcus Rashford for Mkhitaryan and Lingard.
Bravo’s jitteriness gave the home fans renewed belief and he was extremely fortunate to avoid conceding a penalty in the 56th minute.
In turning away from Ibrahimovic, he overran the ball and launched himself into a lunging challenge on Rooney.
Rooney was left writhing in pain, but Clattenburg waved play on after apparently deeming Bravo to have won the ball cleanly.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 10, 2016
Guardiola responded to Mourinho’s changes by bolstering his own midfield, with Fernando and debutant Leroy Sane coming on and De Bruyne taking up a central forward role and a beautifully poised game swung from end to end thereafter.
United had a goal disallowed when Rashford’s shot clipped Ibrahimovic, who was standing in an offside position, and beat Bravo.
De Gea then saved in quick succession from Fernandinho, Nicolas Otamendi and Fernando, before Sane teed up De Bruyne for a shot that hit the right-hand post and rolled across the goal.
The hosts procured one last chance, but Ibrahimovic’s stoppage time shot was deflected just wide.
Elsewhere, Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla scored a late-minute penalty as the Gunners sealed a dramatic 2-1 victory over Southampton at the Emirates.
Tottenham earned a 4-0 win over Stoke City to stay unbeaten, while Watford beat West Ham 4-2 and AFC Bournemouth edged West Brom 1-0.