Manchester United vs Manchester City. Premier League.
Match report as Jack Grealish's header is cancelled out by a VAR-checked Fernandes equaliser before Rashford scores for ninth Old Trafford game in a row to win it for Manchester United; Erik ten Hag's side now third in Premier League table, one point behind Manchester City
Saturday 14 January 2023 20:36, UK
Marcus Rashford kept up his stunning scoring streak to complete an incredible 2-1 comeback win for Manchester United over rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford, denting their neighbours’ Premier League title challenge and perhaps launching one of their own.
City looked set to complete back-to-back derby doubles over United when Jack Grealish stepped off the bench to head the visitors in front (60).
But after a VAR check cleared Rashford from being offside in the build-up to Bruno Fernandes' equaliser (78) - to the fury of City's players - the England man turned in Alejandro Garnacho's cross four minutes later to score for a ninth time in a row on his home ground.
City's 6-3 thrashing of United in October had been a bruising reality check after a four-game Premier League winning streak but Erik ten Hag's side have developed significantly since those early days and are now up to third in the table, just a point behind their local rivals and six off leaders Arsenal, ahead of the North London derby on Sunday.
It's the second damaging result of the week for Pep Guardiola, with defeat in his 500th top-flight game as a manager coming just days after his side crashed out of the Carabao Cup at Southampton. This had been another below-par performance until Grealish's goal and, with four points dropped from four games since the restart after the World Cup, their match with Tottenham on Thursday looks like another crucial one.
The momentum is certainly with the red half of Manchester now. United have won nine on the spin in all competitions, 12 in a row at home, and can close in on Arsenal when they go to the Emirates next weekend, after a trip to Crystal Palace on Wednesday. For the supporters who stayed behind to celebrate, they feel something special is happening under Ten Hag.
Man Utd: De Gea (7), Wan-Bissaka (7), Varane (7), Shaw (7), Malacia (7), Casemiro (7), Fred (7), Eriksen (6), Fernandes (8), Martial (7), Rashford (8).
Subs: Antony (6), Garnacho (7), McTominay (N/A), Martinez (N/A), Maguire (N/A)
Man City: Ederson (5), Walker (6), Akanji (6), Ake (6), Cancelo (6), Rodri (6), De Bruyne (7), Bernardo (6), Mahrez (6), Haaland (5), Foden (5)
Subs: Grealish (7)
Player of the match: Marcus Rashford
Guardiola had criticised his side for losing their focus against lesser sides this season, following recent slip-ups to Southampton, Everton and Brentford, but against their arch-rivals on the big stage on Saturday City were again short on sharpness.
Kyle Walker, Joao Cancelo and Manuel Akanji were among the players to give the ball away needlessly early on and jittery City were almost punished when Bernardo Silva misplaced a pass in midfield to spark a United counter which saw Fernandes shoot wide of the far post.
There was more erratic play from Ederson, who came rushing out of his area on 35 minutes only to see Rashford take it round him. Walker rescued his keeper with a block on Rashford's goal-bound shot on that occasion but the in-form forward was through again moments later, this time over-running his drive into the area before prodding a shot against Ederson.
City had almost 69 per cent possession in that first half but failed badly to get the ball to Haaland to test makeshift centre-back Luke Shaw. An ambitious Walker drive from 35 yards which fizzed past the post just before the whistle for the interval was as close as they came.
With new loan signing Wout Weghorst watching on but unavailable to play, Antony came on at half-time for centre forward Anthony Martial, who appeared to pick up a knock, but it was a City change which made the difference.
Phil Foden had been unable to expose under-pressure United right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka but his replacement had an instant impact. Kevin De Bruyne was superb in the build-up, dribbling into the right channel of the penalty area before standing up an inviting cross for Grealish to nod in.
It was a moment which brought into question Ten Hag's decision not to field benched captain Harry Maguire, who would surely have headed the danger away, and Grealish's second Premier League goal of the season and fifth of his City career felt like a vital one - until United's remarkable turnaround.
A Casemiro pass through for Rashford appeared to find the forward in a clear offside position but he didn't touch the ball, despite it being right by his feet, and Fernandes stepped in to curl home from the edge of the box. City were incensed but VAR judged Rashford hadn't touched the ball or impacted the City defence to be offside.
Moments later he had the ball in the net himself for an eighth goal in seven games, converting Garnacho's low cross past Ederson from close range to send the home supporters wild, fire United up to third and send out a real message about this team's title chances.
Man City boss Pep Guardiola: "It's similar to when I played Champions League finals against Manchester United and since I've been here, a transition team, with Rooney, Ronaldo...
"In the first half we were not in the right position when we lose the ball to avoid them running. It's a similar game we played many times here, knowing the quality of the opponent, the history of this club and playing in Old Trafford.
"We missed a little bit up front in quality, sometimes that happens, that's not a problem… but today was completely different to Southampton and we congratulate United for the victory. We are not going to win [the league] every year for the next 25 years. We want to try but I want us to behave in this way.
"We lost the Carabao Cup three days ago but it's about the way we lost… I was really really sad. Today I said to the players, 'with this personality, they run behind us most of the time, the history for this club the transition, they are really good doing this, so to control that you have to sit back' but that is not the way we want to try to do it. We were close but not close enough, missed a bit up front but in general with the performance I'm satisfied."
On the Rashford offside call: "Manu Akanji stops the line [of running]. If he knows that he is going to go with Rashford, he will go back with him and do the duel one versus one and he sees what happens. But he intervenes in the action.
"The referee decided he did not want to intervene in this stadium. It's OK, what are we going to do? Are we going to make a complaint? No. Congratulations for that. Sometimes it happens in our [favour]. Sometimes [it's like] that. The decision is they didn't believe he [impacted the play]. Rashford was intervening in this action when this happened.
"It's Old Trafford. We have to play much better. Like it's Anfield. We have to do better.
"The rule is the rule, the interpretation belongs to the referee. I say Rashford is offside, Bruno is not. The situation is for the referees.
"When one player shoots and [another] player is in front of the keeper and does not touch the ball, it's disallowed all the time. The decision is of course [belonging to] the referees and VAR. We follow the action, we don't make an offside [appeal], we follow the action and after the action, it's either Ederson intervenes [with a save] or not.
"What can we improve? After we concede the goal, in the next few minutes we cannot concede the next one. We allowed them to score. Come, come, come. This is the most important detail we have to improve for the future."
Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag: "We've improved, that's obvious. A lot of aspects in our game we have to improve but we're progressing, that's quite obvious.
"After half time we didn't come out well, City changed something to give us problems, and we struggled, and tried to get back the control of the first half. In the first half we played brilliant, so good [in terms of] tactical organisation, so proactive with a good block, created good opportunities and chances... At half time we should have had the lead in this game. But after half time it was completely different, we didn't get the press on the ball and didn't get the control inside.
"We often talk about tactics progressing but one of the main jobs from a coaching staff is to work on the mentality of the team. That has a lot of elements and one is resilience. This team is progressing [in how they] deal with setbacks, suffering, painful moments and keep going after a goal against. We are much better able to deal with situations compared to a couple of months ago.
"The fans may dream [of the title] but we're not. We have to keep our feet on the ground and face that in our game [we have] a lot to improve. It can't happen that after half time we're losing so much control in the game and getting down. It's not necessary. In top football small details have a big impact and we have to keep working on that."
Manchester United's next game is away to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports - kick-off 8pm.
Ten Hag's side then face a huge clash at Arsenal on Sunday, January 22, live on Sky Sports - kick-off 4.30pm.
Manchester City's next outing is a crucial home game against Tottenham in the Premier League on Thursday, live on Sky Sports - kick-off 8pm.
The champions then host Wolves on Sunday, January 22 - kick-off 2pm.
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