Manchester, March 7
An overwhelming, 4-1, win over Manchester United saw Manchester City extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to six points over second placed Liverpool who have a game in hand. Captain Kevin de Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez scored two goals each in City’s brilliant performance with United suffering only their second defeat under interim manager Ralf Rangnick.
City manager, Pep Guardiola, said: “We should have scored more goals. If the second half is not our best, I don’t know what we have to do. United is United – eight games without defeat. In the last years when we lost against them, we were already champions, and we knew today we had to win. We have to win almost all the games to be champions.
He added “Football is emotions It’s tactics, definitely, but it’s also emotions. Without the ball, we are a team with desire and passion to regain the ball from the first minute to the 90th.”
Guardiola was delighted De Bruyne has returned to top form. “Kevin is at his best. After the injuries he was struggling for rhythm but now he is scoring goals, playing with power. He is one of the top players in the world but he still runs and works hard, I’m so proud of this guy.
City opened the scoring early when in the 5th minute Jack Grealish, on the left, passed to Bernardo Silva who despite three United defenders, was able to cross to De Bruyne to slam home a powerful shot.
United found the equaliser midway through the half with Jadon Sancho taking a through pass from Paul Pogba, cutting in and curling a shot home. But within six minutes City had regained the lead after brilliant work by Phil Foden who flicked the ball over Victor Lindelof for a low shot which was superbly saved by David de Gea but from the rebound Silva’s attempt was deflected to De Bruyne who made no mistake with his shot.
While United were a match for City in the first half, they were outclassed after the break and City extended their lead in the 68th minute with De Bruyne again playing a roll. Following a corner, he picked out Mahrez whose left-footed half-volley from the edge of the box took a slight deflection and went into the net.
After further late chances were missed by Mahrez and Silva, United were unable to stop Ilkay Gundogan as he broke through, in added time, and passed to Mahrez to hit firmly past de Gea for the fourth goal which had to be confirmed by VAR after it was flagged for offside.
United manager, Rangnick, disagreed with the criticism from former captain Roy Keane of lacking effort. “I didn’t have that impression that they didn’t try. It’s difficult when you are 3-1 down. City are the best team on the ball on the planet. They deserved to win. It was impossible to keep them away from our goal in the second half. I’m happy with the players we have.”