Two goals in the space of four second-half minutes swung a tense derby Manchester United’s way on Saturday lunchtime as the Red Devils crept one point behind Manchester City with a 2-1 victory.
Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford struck in the final 12 minutes, overturning Jack Grealish’s 60th-minute opener as Erik ten Hag’s side recorded a ninth consecutive victory across all competitions, consigning City to a second straight defeat as the Red Devils joined their city rivals in the Premier League top three.
As is often the case in a derby, particularly one with repercussions towards the top of the table, the opening half-hour was a cagey affair. Although, neither team could be accused of over-caution. City invariably dominated possession but had the cogs of their buildup clogged by United’s front-foot approach.
At each turnover, United rapidly funnelled the ball into the feet of Marcus Rashford. The royally in-form forward repeatedly hared into the acres of space City’s advanced backline afforded the hosts. Rashford rounded Ederson entirely in the 34th minute but had his effort cleared off the line by Manuel Akanji. Eye-to-eye with the Brazilian keeper moments later, Rashford couldn’t squeeze the ball past Ederson.
By alternating the players that offered to receive the ball from the centre-backs, City began to tease open the stitching of Manchester United’s well-drilled shape.
Kevin De Bruyne had Fred draped over him like a red scarf for the vast majority of the opening hour but eventually escaped the Brazilian’s clutches. With Riyad Mahrez and Kyle Walker distracting Fred and Tyrell Malacia, De Bruyne scurried unchecked into United’s box. Jack Grealish, three minutes after his substitution, nodded in De Bruyne’s cross, giving City the lead with their first shot on target in more than two hours of football.
United had offered precious little threat in the second half before Bruno Fernandes knocked City out of their swagger in the 79th minute. City’s backline switched off as Rashford moved towards Casemiro’s pass from an offside position. However, the canny forward didn’t touch the ball, letting it roll through for Fernandes to sweep United level. Despite the initial flutter of the assistant’s flag, VAR deemed that Rashford hadn’t interfered, awarding the equaliser.
Rashford emphatically was interfering in all the best ways possible for United four minutes later. United caught City scattered in transition, Alejandro Garnacho jinked away from Nathan Ake – the left centre-back drawn all the way over to the right – and picked out Rashford unmarked inside the six-yard box to tuck in a ninth consecutive goal at Old Trafford.
GK: David de Gea – 6/10 – Could hardly be blamed for the close-range concession against Grealish.
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 6/10 – Muzzled Phil Foden’s threat down the flank so well that the City winger was hooked. Had less success against Grealish.
CB: Raphael Varane – 7/10 – Took few risks when City were able to eke their way into United’s box.
CB: Luke Shaw – 8/10 – Up against the towering and intimidating figure of Erling Haaland in an unnatural position, Shaw did remarkably well to limit the Premier League top scorer’s impact.
LB: Tyrell Malacia – 7/10 – Eagerly and aggressively snapping at Riyad Mahrez’s heels.
CM: Casemiro – 8/10 – On hand to lend an extra broom when sweeping up City’s attacks. The Brazilian couldn’t stop De Bruyne from teeing up the opening goal but crucially toed the ball away from Haaland.
CM: Fred – 7/10 – A rare lapse in concentration was ruthlessly punished after spending so much of the match as close and uncomfortable as a hair shirt.
AM: Christian Eriksen – 6/10 – Shadowed Rodri off the ball but was quick to shuttle it forward in transition.
RW: Bruno Fernandes – 8/10 – Alongside his crisply taken equaliser, Fernandes was the chief delivery source for United’s counter-attacks, sling-shotting the ball whenever he spotted a forward dart.
ST: Anthony Martial – 3/10 – Amid the fury of a derby, Martial’s nonchalant approach grates even more than usual. Even the Old Trafford crowd called for a bit more urgency at times before he was replaced at half-time.
LW: Marcus Rashford – 8/10 – Poised on the shoulder of the deepest sky blue shirt, desperate to burst behind City’s backline. Passed up a raft of chances before finally tucking in.
Antony – 5/10 – Lining up through the middle, Antony struggled to progress beyond a nuisance.
Alejandro Garnacho – 7/10 – Wriggled away from Ake to set up Rashford.
Harry Maguire – N/A
Lisandro Martinez – N/A
Scott McTominay – N/A
Erik ten Hag – 7/10 – Set his team up to strike on the counter. After missing a number of chances through this route in the first half, his confident side found a way through in the second.
GK: Ederson – 4/10 – Recklessly charged off his line but wasn’t deterred by that error, expertly rushing out to smother Rashford three minutes later.
RB: Kyle Walker – 7/10 – As swift as ever on the cover but forced to retreat plenty of times. Increasingly ventured forward after the interval.
CB: Manuel Akanji – 5/10 – United specifically targeted the space behind Akanji who had some shaky moments but was hardly a liability for the reigning champions.
CB: Nathan Ake – 7/10 – Made little fuss with what defensive work he had to do.
LB: Joao Cancelo – 5/10 – Grew into the game as he was given more licence to drift laterally as well as vertically.
CM: Kevin De Bruyne – 8/10 – When De Bruyne was given a breath of space, he invariably showed why Ten Hag devised a specific plan for him.
CM: Rodri – 8/10 – So utterly fundamental to City’s game on and off the ball, metronomically dictating play from the base of midfield.
CM: Bernardo Silva – 6/10 – Dropping deeper than Rodri at times to collect the ball off his centre-backs while also buzzing forward to lead the first line of City’s press.
RW: Riyad Mahrez – 5/10 – Came off second-best more often than not in his personal duels with Malacia, needed the help of his teammates to bypass the fullback.
ST: Erling Haaland – 4/10 – Feeding on scraps, Haaland was just as uninvolved as normal but without his customary goal.
LW: Phil Foden – 3/10 – Skirted anonymously around the fringes of the contest.
Jack Grealish – 7/10 – For the second Premier League game in a row, Grealish came off the bench to change the game.
Pep Guardiola – 5/10 – City never seemed to go for the second goal while they were in the ascendency, instead resting in possession but without the solid base of yesteryear to lean upon.
Player of the match – Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd)
Player ratings as single Ake goals knocks Gunners out of FA Cup
Manchester City knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup at the Etihad Stadium as the fourth round kicked off on Friday night, with Nathan Ake the unexpected star of the show with the only goal.
The Gunners made a bright start and right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu stung the palms of City goalkeeper Stefan Ortega after only a few minutes. Leandro Trossard was the architect of a few moves down the left in those early stages, exposing City’s preference to have right-back Rico Lewis operate as an auxiliary central midfielder.
The hosts caught their first sight of goal courtesy of a loose ball that threatened to let Erling Haaland in. Matt Turner was quick to rush out, but as the ball popped up into the air, Haaland attempted the acrobatic – think Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs England in 2012 – but Tomiyasu dropped back onto the line.
Midway through the first half, Ortega’s strong left hand stopped Trossard putting Arsenal ahead after the £27m Belgian drove in-field from his flank. City had their own chance from a Belgian soon after when Kevin De Bruyne whipped a left-footed shot just wide of the far post.
Trossard made another Arsenal chance when he put a teasing cross into Eddie Nketiah at the near post, with the in-form striker sending his flick just wide. It didn’t really feel like an action-packed first half, yet the opportunities kept coming as Haaland missed the target under pressure from Gabriel.
Trossard aside, none of the big players on either side had particularly stood out in the first 45 – the likes of Haaland, De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Bukayo Saka had all be disappointingly quiet.
Given that, it was perhaps fitting that the eventual breakthrough came from an unlikely source. Substitute Julian Alvarez changed things by taking on a shot from distance that rebounded off the post. Jack Grealish recycled it and found left-back Ake, who passed the ball into the far corner of the goal like a seasoned striker.
Both managers made numerous changes to try and shift the balance of the game in their favour as the minutes ticked away. It achieved little as far as the spectacle was concerned, breaking up any potential for a bit of rhythm or momentum.
City dug in in the closing stages, squeezing Arsenal out whenever the Gunners threatened to make something happen in or around the box – in particular Ortega made a couple of vital smothers when Arsenal sub Gabriel Martinelli injected some pace for the hosts.
GK: Stefan Ortega – 8/10 – Needed to make saves from the start, keeping City in it when Arsenal were arguably stronger in the first half. Stayed strong throughout and never looked as though he was going to be beaten.
RB: Rico Lewis – 6/10 – Spent a lot of time in the middle of the pitch as per instructions from his manager. Clearly a good player but it gave Trossard too much space, albeit not his fault.
CB: John Stones – 5/10 – Often looked vulnerable because of how Lewis was playing. A suspected hamstring injury then ended his night before half-time.
CB: Manuel Akanji – 7/10 – Had to switch positions after Stones was taken off but put in a dominant performance regardless.
LB: Nathan Ake – 8/10 – Finished with great composure to put his team ahead and put in a solid defensive shift as well, with Saka hardly given a sniff.
CM: Kevin De Bruyne – 5/10 – Narrowly missed with a great curling effort in the first half and slightly improved after half-time but was far from his best.
CM: Rodri – 5/10 – Unusually sloppy with the ball by his standards.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 6/10 – Did both sides of the ball pretty well but not always on the same page as the forwards ahead of him.
RW: Riyad Mahrez – 4/10 – Not really himself. Didn’t have enough of the ball to make any real impact and was withdrawn before an hour had passed.
ST: Erling Haaland – 5/10 – Attempted the spectacular early on and also took a whack to the back of the head before half-time. Didn’t get his usual quality service.
LW: Jack Grealish – 6/10 – Gets an assist for his layoff to Ake and City’s best forward on the night.
SUB: Aymeric Laporte (45+4′ for Stones) – 7/10
SUB: Julian Alvarez (58′ for Mahrez) – 7/10
SUB: Kyle Walker (58′ for Lewis) – 7/10
SUB: Bernardo Silva (75′ for De Bruyne) – 6/10
Pep Guardiola – 7/10 – The way he set up the team didn’t make sense when Trossard kept causing problems down City’s right. Changed shape early in the second half and the substitutes definitely did make a positive impact overall.
GK: Matt Turner – 6/10 – Stood little chance with the only goal. Always keen to come for crosses or rush off his line.
RB: Takehiro Tomiyasu – 6/10 – Had the first early chance with a good foray forward.
CB: Rob Holding – 5/10 – Got physical with Haaland and took a yellow card for it with 50 minutes still left to play. The danger of getting another saw him removed at half-time.
CB: Gabriel – 6/10 – Did enough to put Haaland off in a key moment.
LB: Kieran Tierney – 6/10 – Would have expected a tougher test from Mahrez. Didn’t offer much going forward to take advantage of that.
CM: Fabio Vieira – 5/10 – Had one shot that missed the target and didn’t do enough otherwise.
CM: Thomas Partey – 5/10 – Didn’t stand out and was surprisingly replaced at half-time.
CM: Granit Xhaka – 6/10 – Successful in stopping City play their usual sparkling game, although a couple of hesitations in key moments were almost costly.
RW: Bukayo Saka – 4/10 – Just 23 touches of the ball tells its own story.
ST: Eddie Nketiah – 5/10 – Couldn’t find the target with a chance in thef first half. The service wasn’t there for him and he touched the ball only slightly more than Saka.
LW: Leandro Trossard – 7/10 – Gave City real trouble from the start and created a number of chances in the first half. Much quieter after the break.
SUB: William Saliba (46′ for Holding) – 6/10
SUB: Albert Sambi Lokonga (46′ for Partey) – 6/10
SUB: Gabriel Martinelli (66′ for Trossard) – 7/10
SUB: Oleksandr Zinchenko (66′ for Tierney) – 6/10
SUB: Martin Odegaard (74′ for Saka) – 5/10
Mikel Arteta – 6/10 – Took no risks with Holding on a yellow card and later responded to going behind by making chances immediately. Couldn’t get one over on his old mentor.
Player of the match – Nathan Ake (Man City)
Wolves finally set to sign Brazilian talent from Flamengo
Wolves are finally set to conclude the signing of Joao Gomes after winning their stand-off with Flamengo, sources have confirmed to 90min.
90min revealed earlier in January that Wolves had agreed terms with Flamengo, but at the point of exchanging contracts the Brazilian club did not return documents at their end.
Wolves then struggled to communicate with Flamengo and it emerged that talks had begun with French side Lyon, who made a bid worth €19m (£16.7m) – that was €2m more than Wolves offered.
However, despite Lyon’s determination to persuade Gomes otherwise, the player refused to move to France. Instead, he insisted he wanted to move to the Premier League and even new Lyon owner John Textor made a personal trip to try and convince him to no avail.
Now, after accepting the Lyon move won’t happen, Flamengo have greenlighted the Wolves deal and given permission for Gomes to join them. The transfer is on course to be finalised over the weekend.
On this edition of Talking Transfers, Scott Saunders hosts Toby Cudworth & Graeme Bailey to discuss some of the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more! If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!
Kieran Trippier signs new Newcastle contract
Kieran Trippier has committed his future to Newcastle with a new two-and-a-half-year contract.
The 32-year-old England international was the first signing made by Newcastle following the Saudi Arabia-backed takeover, joining from Aletico Madrid in a £15m deal in January 2022.
Trippier’s previous deal was due to expire in 2024 but he is now tied to the club until 2025.
After putting pen to paper, Trippier said: “I’m absolutely delighted that I’ve extended my contract here. I’ve got a lot of thank yous to make to the manager, owners, fans and my team-mates.
“When I first arrived here, they made me feel so welcome and I want to help the club achieve great things. It’s a positive moment for us players in the club and there’s no place I’d rather be.”
Newcastle United head coach, Eddie Howe, added: “It’s a fitting reward for the season he’s had. He’s been outstanding both on and off the pitch, showing real leadership at a difficult moment when he first arrived, and now he’s excelled in a team that’s doing well.
“I can’t praise him enough for everything he’s given the club.”
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