Phill Foden

Foden wins Manchester derby for City, pressures Liverpool

It wasn’t another massive embarrassment. That was Manchester United’s solace. Four of the previous six derbies—excluding the FA Cup final at the conclusion of last season, which Manchester City won 2-1—had seen United brutally defeated. Their fans were thrilled to see Marcus Rashford rocket them into an early lead with a fierce long-range shot.

Another loss, another stinging reminder of the gap to the top, as it was always going to be. United only wanted to stay compact and score on the counterattack.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the new minority owner, realises it’s not United’s purpose.

This calls into question his three-year plan to knock City and Liverpool off their perch, and his recent statement about the “complete misery and frustration” of being a United fan since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement resonated on Sunday.

As they began a critical month with the result they needed to counter Liverpool’s triumph at Nottingham Forest on Saturday, City reeled United in. Phil Foden changed things.

The midfielder scored twice, one to match Rashford and the other a polished finish for 2-1, giving him 18 goals for the season, a career high. Pep Guardiola applauded the minor stuff, like him tracking back to rob Antony late on. Foden was elevated.

Erling Haaland added the third in stoppage time, preparing City for next Sunday’s match against Liverpool at Anfield.

City play Arsenal at the Etihad later this month. They have won 17 and drawn two of their past 19 matches in all competitions and appear ready to sweep again.

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Rashford’s Thursday interview in which he firmly warned against questioning his dedication to United after his disappointing performance in the midweek FA Cup win against Forest brought him attention. Actually, nobody did that. They wondered why he was having a bad season.

Rashford needed to be impressive, and he did so with one of his best goals, a lovely 25-yard shot that sailed in off Ederson’s crossbar. As a false 9, Bruno Fernandes created the opportunity by denying Rúben Dias following André Onana’s long pass.

Rashford contributed to the damage in a frantic first half as United threatened. When Dias slid and Fernandes played a fast through-ball, he could have scored again. With nobody in front of him on midway, Rashford’s first touch was weak, allowing Kyle Walker to tackle back.

Rashford air-kicked and went over when Fernandes crossed, making matters worse. Good chance for 26-year-old due to favourable angle. United’s last attacking flare came midway through the first half.

City controlled possession, pressed high, and shot 27-3. United owed Onana three superb stops before halftime, two of which denied Foden, the second in a one-on-one. The other saw him dive left to block a Rodri shot.

In first-half stoppage time, Haaland faked a miss, suggesting United may win. Foden had headed square, leaving Haaland alone to cushion the shot into the empty net. He was unable to resist. We almost needed replays to verify. Indeed, City’s goal devourer skied it.

City kept playing, with John Stones moving into midfield and Kevin De Bruyne being so important. Erik ten Hag had limited options for his starting XI due to his injury list, unless you considered Sofyan Amrabat at left-back and Antony at right flank. City resources contrasted sharply.

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Foden cut inside Victor Lindelöf, the temporary left-back, without red shirts, for the equaliser, a pure strike. Foden had his opportunity outside the box after shimmering with menace. Walker fouling Rashford in their prior possession would have been soft.

The United goal was sieged in the second half. Ten Hag placed 19-year-old Willy Kambwala at right-back, moved Diogo Dalot to left-back to face Foden, and moved Lindelöf to center-back. Guardiola moved Foden to the other side, where he scored again.

After exchanging passes with substitute Julián Álvarez, Foden drove low into the far corner. Before that, Alejandro Garnacho yelled for a penalty after rushing through and seeing Ederson take the ball and then him, hopeful. City deserved their third goal. It happened when Rodri robbed substitute Amrabat. Haaland was certain he wouldn’t miss this.

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