By Andrew Embling
- United suffer first league defeat of season
- Lingard and Mkhitaryan handed first league starts
- Both withdrawn at half-time
It had been billed as Mourinho versus Guardiola as the two managers locked horns once again, and it was the Spaniard who came out on top as City beat their local rivals 2-1 in a game of two contrasting halves.
City dominated for the majority of the opening stanza, but United pushed them all the way having shaken off the cobwebs of the opening 45 minutes and will feel that they should have at least have walked away with a point.
With both sides boasting 100% records from their opening games something had to give on a day when two of the early favourites for the title went toe for toe for the first time.
Sloppy start for United
And it was City who settled the better in the early stages, United looking nervy.
It was no surprise that it was a United mistake which cost them the opening goal, man of the match de Bruyne catching Blind on the ball on the edge of his own area and finding the bottom corner to give the men in blue the lead.
City were pulling United’s defence apart at times, stretching the play as they bossed possession.
But although United looked below par, they did show signs that they could be dangerous on the break as City’s full backs pushed forward.
The home side were giving the ball away far too often, inviting their opponents on to them.
United couldn’t find any cohesion against the slick, quick passing and movement of the men in blue.
And it got worse for the home side as de Bruyne hit the inside of the post and the ball fell neatly into the path of Iheanacho, who could hardly miss from close range with the United backline standing like statues.
It was little more than City deserved after their complete dominance of the first 35 minutes, but just as United looked down and out they found themselves a lifeline just before the break.
Ibrahimović pulls one back
The new City keeper had hardly been tested, but he failed to claim what should have been a comfortable free kick, dropping it at the feet of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The United striker still had a lot to do, but struck a magnificent effort first time into the back of the net to halve the deficit.
And the Swede almost levelled in injury time at the end of the first period as Rooney won a loose ball and crossed towards Ibrahimovic, who could only power his header straight at the City keeper.
Ibrahimović then failed to connect properly just before the half time whistle after Lingard had beaten Bravo to the ball, Stones able to clear on the line.
Mourinho makes half-time changes
Mourinho made two changes at the break, bringing on Rashford and Herrera for Lingard and Mkhitaryan and it almost paid dividends inside the first couple of minutes of the second half as Rashford turned his man and found Ibrahimovic, who fired over.
Rashford was already making an impact with his pace and movement, but it was the composure of Bravo which continued to cause City problems.
Rooney was caught in the area by the City keeper in what looked like a challenge which led with the studs, but referee Clattenburg waived the appeals away.
It was end to end as both teams pushed forward, Ibrahimovic failing to keep the ball down as he latched onto a Fellaini knock down.
Rashford strike ruled out
And United thought they had the equaliser when Rashford’s effort found the back of the net, only to be ruled out as it had taken a deflection off Ibrahimovic who had strayed into an offside position.
City almost increased their advantage, but de Bruyne’s well struck volley was brilliantly kept out by a flying de Gea.
The United keeper was involved again, saving from Fernandinho, before de Bruyne latched on to Sane’s pass as City broke only to see his effort cannon off the inside of the near post and roll agonisingly wide of the far stick.
Silva fired a curling effort just over as City came close again, whilst United threw everything forward in search of an equaliser.
Ibrahimovic saw an injury time effort deflected just wide, but try as they might City’s lines just couldn’t be breached despite another Bravo error almost seeing United level in the final seconds.
City celebrated like they had won the league at the final whistle knowing how important the result might be come the end of the season.
Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw (Martial 81), Fellaini, Pogba, Mkhitaryan (Ander Herrera 46), Rooney, Lingard (Rashford 46), Ibrahimović
Substitutes Not Used: Romero, Smalling, Mata, Schneiderlin