BEST OF THE MANSOUR ERA: A Comprehensive Beating Of United One Evening At Old Trafford

Throughout June on Typical City, we’re looking at some of the best matches Manchester City have played in the Sheikh Mansour-era. Day by day, we’re taking a trip down memory lane to some of the classic encounters the Blues have had since the 2008 takeover – you can view the rest of the featured games on the Best of the Mansour Era page.

When it comes to big wins at Old Trafford, there are a couple that spring to mind. We’ll get to one of the others later in the series, but today we roll the clock back to 2014 – when Manuel Pellegrini earned a derby double over Manchester United with one of the easiest victories of his debut season…

Manchester United 0-3 Manchester City
Tuesday 25 March 2014
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Fernandinho, Toure, Navas (Garcia 68), Silva, Nasri (Milner 74), Dzeko (Negredo 79).
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Kolarov, Jovetic
Goals: Dzeko (1, 56), Toure (90)

Even in the depths of some of Manchester City’s most awful performances, no manager of the club ever said that their team needed to be more like Manchester United. It just didn’t happen. The hard reality may have been true, but it always went unsaid – it would have been a source of ridicule for years to come. Following City’s 3-0 victory at Old Trafford on Tuesday 25 March 2014, it was that sort of comment that got unpopular United boss David Moyes into all sorts of trouble, after he’d watched Manuel Pellegrini’s side dismantle his team from minute one to minute 90.

“I thought we played a very good side,” Moyes said after being asked if he felt City would go on to be champions. “It’s the sort of standard and level we need to aspire to get to at this moment in time. They’re a good side. We need to play better, we need to come up a couple of levels ourselves, and at the moment we’re not there.”

That was like nails down a blackboard to United fans. It was music to the ears of City’s.

It’s not often that a team scores its third chance of the game before a minute has even passed, but that’s exactly how the Blues began at Old Trafford that evening. With the memories of their 6-1 victory at that stadium two years earlier still fresh in the minds, the visiting fans were hoping for another 90 minutes of sheer domination – while the final score wasn’t as extravagant, City’s performance was sublime and far better than that of 2011.

David Silva hit his side’s first shot of the match after just 34 seconds. He had played a neat one-two with Yaya Toure on the edge of the United area in the first attack of the match, collecting the return pass as he danced into the box. He pulled the trigger, but a sliding challenge from Rafael blocked the effort to Edin Dzeko around 20 yards out.

The Bosnian fed the ball wide to Samir Nasri on the left flank, occupying the space vacated by Rafael, and the midfielder weaved himself into space. With a yard to shoot, he blasted City’s second attempt of the match – striking the near post with 41 seconds on the clock, leaving David De Gea rooted to his line. The goalkeeper watched that rebound ricochet through the area to the feet of Dzeko, who slammed it into the roof of the net.

The away fans went mad – they had watched the Blues fire themselves in front after just 43 seconds. The could hardly believe their eyes.

City were all over their hosts. United couldn’t get a grip on the ball, let alone trouble Joe Hart in the opposing goal, and it was a miracle for the Reds that they got in at half time only one goal down – and with 11 men on the field. Marouane Fellaini stuck an elbow into Pablo Zabaleta’s face, leaving the full back in a heap on the ground and with a bloody nose – but the referee showed the Belgian a yellow card when it could easily have been a red.

The scoreline began to reflect City’s dominance better after half time. It was on 56 minutes when Dzeko, who seemed to have little trouble scoring at Old Trafford, found the net again – this time from a set piece.

A right wing corner was dropped on the near post by Nasri, meeting the run of the Bosnian perfectly. Dzeko had lost his man and was able to comfortably side-foot an effort into De Gea’s top right corner, sweeping the ball into the net. It was no more than the Blues deserved, and the striker was off celebrating with the visiting fans.

The icing on the cake came as the game headed towards stoppage time. A breakaway saw James Milner find room on the right flank and flick a pass back inside for Yaya Toure to collect. As he took it under control, he knocked it out of his feet and opened up space to shoot. Pretty much everybody in the stadium could see what was about to happen, but nobody could stop it – as the Ivorian side-footed an effort across the goalkeeper to nestle in the bottom left corner of the goal.

It finished 3-0 to the visitors, but United couldn’t have complained had it been double that. At a time where there were one or two pre-match concerns that the Reds might have eyes on knocked City’s title challenge, the Blues waltzed away with the Manchester derby and ended up finishing the season as champions, too. Never had a City side won so easily at Old Trafford before, and it was a joy to behold for all of the away fans.

Pellegrini saluted a great win afterwards: “I think that tonight we played very well. I don’t know what that’ll mean, but for me it was very important to keep a clean sheet and to score three goals. We were very balanced, we concentrated well, with a lot of intensity and aggression both with and without the ball.

“It was not our intention to score early, but it was our intention to try to go for the three points from the beginning of the match. Fortunately we scored that goal inside 50 seconds and we had two more clear chances that we didn’t score.

“We continued in defending and attacking and finished with this great result because it is not easy to score three goals here against United.”

Written by David Mooney

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