Manchester City laid down a huge statement of intent in their quest for the Premier League title by beating second-placed rivals Manchester United thanks to goals from David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi, either side of a Marcus Rashford equaliser.
It was an afternoon for Jose Mourinho and the Red Devils to forget as they lost major ground on City at the top, with Romelu Lukaku in particular having a nightmare showing at Old Trafford.
The match began pretty much as one might have expected, with City settling into their passing game and United soaked up pressure in and around their own penalty box. At times Pep Guardiola’s men could have been accused of trying to score the perfect goal as they sought to break the deadlock.
One such incident was evident early on as Gabriel Jesus, in for the rotated Sergio Aguero, opted to try and backheel the ball after springing the offside trap rather than go for goal himself.
City were restricted to just tame efforts as they tried to break the hosts down – with long range efforts coming in from Fernandinho, Otamendi and Raheem Sterling.
The visitors really grew into the game from the half hour mark, with United causing next to no trouble, and the deadlock was broken in the 42nd minute after good work from Leroy Sane to force a corner from David De Gea.
Kevin De Bruyne’s corner ricocheted off Lukaku right into the path of Silva, who couldn’t miss from point-blank range.
It looked as though that would be it for the half, but a lapse in concentration at the back from Otamendi and Fabian Delph allowed the lively Rashford in on goal to slot past Ederson, which was completely against the run of play and only United’s second chance at that point.
City skipper Vincent Kompany was replaced at half-time by Ilkay Gundogan, which prompted a shuffle of Fernandinho to centre-half alongside Otamendi. For the hosts, Victor Lindelof was introduced in place of Marcos Rojo, who was still feeling the effects of a clash of heads with Silva.
City took the lead again in the 53rd minute when Lukaku failed to deal with a De Bruyne set-piece for the second time in the match. The Belgian hacked at the ball and presented straight to the Argentine, who couldn’t miss from the six-yard box.
Lukaku tried to make amends moments later when he was slipped through by Jesse Lingard, but lacked the composure to hit the target on his weaker foot.
It was almost 3-1 when De Bruyne surged forward from deep. The midfield maestro unleashed a fierce left-foot drive, which was was tipped wide by a sprawling De Gea.
Rashford tried to drag the hosts level with a striker that was beaten behind for a corner by Ederson after the ball went through to the Englishman after Delph failed to connect with his clearance.
Desperate times called for desperate measures, as United’s Ander Herrera took a tumble to try and win his side a penalty. The Spaniard was booked for simulation, making 1-1 in the diving stakes after Jesus’ attempt in the first half – the Brazilian somehow wasn’t booked though.
City had Ederson to thank for saving the three points in the 84th minute with a truly incredible double stop from point-black range. Lukaku really should have scored, but the Brazilian thwarted his effort with his face no less, and then kept out the follow up from substitute Juan Mata.
The huge win – a league record-breaking 14th consecutive – for City is a massive step towards the Premier League title and huge statement of intent to the chasing pack, who will surely see the 11-point gap as a massive hurdle to overcome.