Manch­ester is City’s kind of town

Dom­i­nate United 3-1 in derby vic­tory for dozen-point lead over crosstown ri­val

The Peterborough Examiner - - Sports - ROB HAR­RIS

MANCH­ESTER — The fourth goal in the Manch­ester derby showed the gulf be­tween the two ri­vals isn’t only widen­ing in their Premier League po­si­tions, but in tech­ni­cal qual­ity as well.

With slick­ness and fi­nesse, Manch­ester City strung to­gether a 44-pass move be­fore Ilkay Gun­do­gan com­pleted a 3-1 vic­tory for the league lead­ers over Manch­ester United on Sun­day.

City’s 12-point ad­van­tage over United is the largest af­ter 12 games in the post-1992 Premier League era. And Jose Mour­inho’s eighth-place Man U team is as close to Cardiff in the rel­e­ga­tion zone as it is to de­fend­ing cham­pion City at the top.

“I think we are not go­ing to be rel­e­gated,” Mour­inho said dryly, when United’s po­si­tion was pointed out. “I think it’s not a bad per­for­mance at all, it’s a per­for­mance with mis­takes. We paid for the mis­takes. All the three goals are our mis­takes.”

Com­pletely out­played by English foot­ball’s dom­i­nant force, Mour­inho has lit­tle prospect of de­thron­ing City as cham­pi­ons. A third at­tempt at bring­ing the Premier League tro­phy back to Old Traf­ford for the first time since Alex Fer­gu­son re­tired in a blaze of glory in 2013 al­ready ap­pears over af­ter barely a third of the sea­son.

City’s opener came in the 13th minute when Ra­heem Ster­ling crossed to Bernardo Silva, who cut the ball back for David Silva to sweep into the net.

The only sur­prise was City’s in­abil­ity to pile on more goals, with David Silva and Ser­gio Aguero also net­ting in a match where United was re­stricted to one shot, 36 per cent pos­ses­sion, and they lacked the verve pro­vided by the in­jured Paul Pogba.

“The way peo­ple who don’t un­der­stand foot­ball an­a­lyse it is with stats,” Mour­inho said. “I don’t go for stats.”

The man­ager could look at his play­ers’ lack of ur­gency on the ball. Three min­utes into the sec­ond half, Jesse Lin­gard con­ceded pos­ses­sion on the half­way line to Fer­nand­inho, who set Aguero free on a run to goal. Af­ter play­ing a one-two with Riyad Mahrez, Aguero struck through David De Gea’s raised arms at the near post to cel­e­brate his new sil­ver hair­cut with a goal.

Some­thing did go right for United af­ter Lin­gard was re­placed by Romelu Lukaku. The striker had been on the pitch only a minute when he was brought down by City goal­keeper Eder­son and Anthony Mar­tial re­duced the deficit from the penalty spot.

“We were in a fight to try to get the equal­izer,” Mour­inho said.

Then the third goal came in the 44-pass move that started with Ben­jamin Mendy seiz­ing con­trol of the ball and ended with Gun­do­gan left clear by Ne­manja Matic to meet Bernardo Silva’s cross and put the ball past De Gea in the 86th minute.

This was how City wants to be viewed: A team pro­duc­ing scin­til­lat­ing soc­cer on the field. Not as the team that ap­pears to use elab­o­rate fi­nan­cial mech­a­nisms to try to avoid fail­ing sport­ing fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tions, as the Abu Dhabi own­er­ship has been ac­cused of do­ing af­ter in­ter­nal cor­re­spon­dence leaked over the past week.

Cham­pi­ons last sea­son with

100 points, City heads into the in­ter­na­tional break with a two­point lead over Liver­pool.

“We’re scor­ing a lot of goals, cre­at­ing a lot of chances, con­ced­ing few,” City man­ager Pep Guardiola said, “and that is a rhythm.”

Even Watford and Bournemouth now sit above United, with Tot­ten­ham seven points in front in the fourth and fi­nal Cham­pi­ons League spot. Mour­inho blamed the Eu­ro­pean com­pe­ti­tion for United’s col­lapse in the blue half of Manch­ester.

DAVE THOMP­SON THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Manch­ester United’s Luke Shaw, left, and Manch­ester City’s Ilkay Gun­do­gan chal­lenge for the ball dur­ing the English Premier League soc­cer match be­tween the crosstown ri­vals Sun­day at the Eti­had sta­dium.

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