Billed as the biggest Manchester derby in years, with City and United both unbeaten in the league you could forgive people for assuming it was going to be a close, tight game with a draw inevitable.
Manchester City proved that theory incorrect.
The opening 20 minutes was all Manchester United, the Blues could not gain a foothold in the game, they couldn’t keep possession and the United machine passed the ball to death – unable however, to break through City’s backline. The Blues restricted United to speculative long range efforts that never really tested Joe Hart up until a United corner found an unmarked Wayne Rooney at the back post whose cross landed at the feet of Jonny Evans who in turn, miss-kicked and City cleared. It was one of only a handful of moments in the game which really worried City. Reminiscent of Dimitar Berbatov’s miss in the FA Cup semi final last year, it suggested that it could perhaps been one of those days.
With City effectively counter-attacking United the breakthrough finally came as good work on the left hand side between the mercurial Silva and James Milner saw the ball cut back across the 18 yard box to an unmarked Mario Balotelli who caressed the ball into the bottom corner.
City began the second half strongly, or perhaps it was United who started it sloppily. Balotelli was put through but just as he was about to go one-on-one with United’s De Gea, Evans held him back earning himself a straight red card.
With United down to ten men they desperately tried to redress the balance and mildly threatened the City goal, without really causing Hart any problems. It was an attack from City, this time on the right that led to the second goal. Silva twisted and turned around the United defence and Milner’s intelligent run left Ashley Young for dead and Silva’s pass found Milner who crossed for Balotelli to tap in from close range.
The disbelieving City fans, shocked to see their side 2-0 up at Old Trafford were celebrating again ten minutes later as man-of-the-match Micah Richards crossed for Sergio Aguero who made it 3-0, again from close range. It was almost identical to Balotelli’s second and City were carving United open with ease. Such ease that many United fans headed for the exits.
With ten minutes left of normal time, Darren Fletcher scored a screamer from the edge of the area making it 3-1 to City and planting the seed of doubt amongst the minds of many City fans who have seen their side squander leads in the past, and of course, seen many a late United goal that has left them heartbroken.
They needn’t have worried.
As United pressed for goals, their exposed defence received a battering as substitute Edin Dzeko capitalised on a misunderstanding between De Gea and Ferdinand resulting in an unnecessary corner. Silva whipped the ball onto the head of Barry whose effort was parried by De Gea only as far as Lescott who crossed the ball back into the box and onto the knee of Dzeko making it 4-1 to City.
Not content at losing 4-1 to their local rivals, United again pressed for a goal but were caught out as a quick breakaway led Dzeko to slip Silva through on the right hand side and he coolly squeezed his shot through the legs of his Spanish compatriot David De Gea.
That made it 5-1 to City.
As the City fans were in raptures and Old Trafford almost empty, David Silva made the pass of the match, possibly a pass that will rival any other made this season. Controlling the ball beautifully and dropping his shoulder, he volleyed the ball in between two defenders and into the path of the incoming Dzeko who powered his shot home past the keeper.
It was the heaviest defeat in Sir Alex Ferguson’s career, the first time since 1955 that United have lost so heavily at Old Trafford. It was, quite possibly, one of the best performances from a City side ever. Manchester City didn’t just defeat United 6-1 at Old Trafford, they went five points clear at the top of the table and have +12 goal difference over United.
Manchester City player ratings:
Hart 7 – He didn’t really have that much to do and had no chance of stopping Fletcher’s goal
Richards 10 – Micah was simply outstanding both in defence and attack. Strong, quick and even grabbed an assist and on another day may have scored
Kompany (c) 8 – Dealt with everything United threw at him and was solid alongside Lescott. Will be disappointed to have conceded a goal though
Lescott 8 – Solid once again, had to be quick on his feet at times – which he was
Clichy 9 – Great display from the left-back, fantastic in attack and defence, kept Nani quiet and linked well with the forwards
Barry 7 – Totally dominated the midfield, made some great tackles and interventions
Touré 7 – Similar to Barry, another great display for him against United – this time he wasn’t on the score sheet
Silva 10 – Words cannot describe how incredible this Spanish wizard is
Milner 9 – An outstanding performance yet again from Milner who has really stepped up his game. His work rate is phenomenal and his link up play with Silva for the second goal was a joy to watch
Balotelli 9 – Six goals in five games doesn’t tell the whole story. His link up play with the front line was brilliant, took his goals excellently and celebrated in style
Aguero 8 – Took a while to get into the game but showed what a player he is in the second half. Scored a good goal, his pace and drive will cause many problems this season and he’s almost in double figures after 9 games
Dzeko 8 – Scored two goals and could easily have scored another. Fantastic cameo
Kolarov – Too late to mark
Nasri 6 – Little to do as the game was already over