The 170th Manchester derby was expected to be a cagey one from the onset, with our firepower limited to Bony and Sterling, helped only by De Bruyne. United though, boasted the presence of the likes of Wayne Rooney, their target man Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, and the in-form Chris Smalling who will feature later in this article for his attacking exploits.
The match started out with both teams looking to string passes and build up play just inside the opposition’s half. This was playing right into United’s hands, because we all know that Louis van Gaal has trained his team to keep possession. So it was no surprise that United kept the ball almost twice as much as City in the first quarter of an hour.
Martial was in his usual zone and taking on players at will. He suckered Fernandinho into a foul which got the Brazilian a deserved yellow. In the 39th minute however, Mata lost the ball and got himself booked by trying to atone for his mistake and clattering into Fernandinho.
Yaya Toure headed just wide off a De Bruyne corner and this was the only worthwhile chance that City created in the half. Antonio Valencia was relishing his battle against Aleskasndr Kolarov and Raheem Sterling, coming out on top due to his pace and strength. Marcos Rojo was also having a gala time on the other flank.
Kompany picked up a needless yellow card just before half time by tripping Martial, even though the Frenchman had nowhere to go. The first half was not an exciting one for anyone to watch but it promised to be a more open game in the next 45 minutes with players on yellow cards and the obvious fatigue factor.
There were no changes at half time and United started the better of the two with Martial winning an early corner. Mark Clattenberg refused to give United a penalty when the legs of Herrera and Sterling tangled inside the box. The ref awarded a corner to United instead which was almost turned in by Schneiderlin as United were edging closer and closer to the elusive goal.
Jesus Navas was brought on for the largely ineffective Sterling on the 55th minute. 8 minutes later, Hart pulled off a brilliant rescue act to deny Mata a goal when he was through with acres of space. The keeper rushed off his line right in time to kick the ball away.
In the final 10 minutes of the game, both teams had made all 3 substitutions. City deployed Demichelis in Toure’s role while teen sensation Iheanacho came on for Bony. It was United however who had yet another chance as Jesse Lingard hit the post with a superb dink which kept Hart rooted to his spot. A collective sigh of relief came from the Cityzens although the game was far from over.
City themselves has a chance when Nicolas Otamendi was shrugged off in the penalty area by Rooney to deny him a goal scoring opportunity. That was the closest that City came to beat United though as Smalling thought he’d won it for United in the 89th minute with a smart snapshot from Schneiderlin’s knock down, that was saved by Hart’s outstanding reflexes.
And that was that as the final score stood at 0-0 with United feeling they should’ve got all 3 points. City however, could breathe easy as they were on top of the table again, albeit on goal difference. This draw was a great result for City as we went onwards in our quest for the Barclay’s Premier League title.