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Home » Fernandes and Rashford Secure Controversial Victory as Man United Defeat Man City

Fernandes and Rashford Secure Controversial Victory as Man United Defeat Man City

14 January 2023, Saturday
Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford enabled a spectacular late comeback that saw Manchester United prevail with a 2-1 victory over Manchester City in the derby match. This stirring success is set to be a point of contention due to the particulars involving Fernandes' leveller.

Jack Grealish made a fast impression coming off the bench to put Manchester City ahead with an hour gone, nodding in Kevin De Bruyne's cross. However, Manchester United equalised 11 minutes from time when Fernandes fired in Casemiro's throughball. Although there was a flag for offside against Marcus Rashford, the goal was upheld as he had not made contact with the ball or impacted any opposition players.

Rashford sent Manchester United into a frenzy when he scored his eighth goal in seven games since the World Cup break to put them within a point of rivals Manchester City. The strike came four minutes after Alejandro Garnacho entered the fray to provide a low cross which Rashford dispatched with ease. Victory would mean United will be a point behind City, while Arsenal would be eight points clear at the top if they win their Sunday clash with Tottenham.

Rashford was at the heart of Manchester United's best moments in the first half of a tight game, with Ederson making a crucial clearance off the line to deny him before thwarting a one-on-one attempt. City were unable to find their passing form in the final third of the pitch as the break approached, with Casemiro and Fred blocking Erling Haaland's 23rd-minute shot, before Kyle Walker's long-range effort just missed the target in stoppage time.

City raised their game after the interval, distributing the ball around with more intent and creating more dangerous opportunities. It was from one of these moves that the opener eventually arrived, when Mahrez sent in a neat pass to De Bruyne, who then delivered a teasing chip for Grealish to apply the finishing touch.

Pep's team showed their typical poise in possession but were unable to build on their lead, prior to the major incident.

Caseimiro played a pass behind the defence of City, who had ruled Rashford offside. The ball ran ahead of the English striker, who skilfully used his body to control it for Fernandes to smash the ball into the net. The linesman had initially flagged, yet following discussions between the officials and VAR, the goal stood.

City then lost their concentration and Rashford made them pay with a goal, when Garnacho located him at the second attempt.

Upon being asked about the decisive goal after the match, Guardiola simply stated to BT Sport: "I know the venue." It may be hard to believe an away team being awarded such a decision at Old Trafford, but it wasn't a favourable judgement made solely based on the home team. According to the latest offside rules, the goal was justified: Rashford neither interfered with any opposing players, nor made any attempt to touch or play the ball himself, nor would he have prevented a member of the City squad from doing so.

The City defence and Akanji, in particular, will be feeling extremely frustrated. The Switzerland centre-back successfully held the defensive line, thus catching Rashford offside. However, this left him unable to engage in play and potentially bringing Rashford into breach of regulations. Ten Hag himself commented on the confusion that this set of rules can cause the opposition, demonstrating his understanding of the situation. It is likely that this incident will lead to a reconsideration of the regulations, although this will not be of much comfort to City.

Ten Hag will likely take caution in his reaction to the match. Yet, what cannot be denied is the unbeatable edge that Manchester United presents since the retirement of Alex Ferguson almost 10 years ago. From halftime to the equalizer, the team's performance was remarkable. In addition, the way in which Fernandes scored his goal was quite unusual. All things considered, United's spirit has manifestly strengthened since Ferguson's departure.

In this fixture, it is usual for Manchester United to succumb when Manchester City begin to pass the ball around. This time, however, Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw were outstanding, so there were no chances for Erling Haaland at all. Casemiro has presented a strong and determined middle to the midfield unit that had previously been vulnerable. Away from their dependence on Cristiano Ronaldo, the Red Devils are liberated. If they overcome Arsenal come the next weekend, then things could start to get exciting.

It seems that City may be facing a tough challenge in their bid for a third consecutive title and a fifth in six seasons. Jurgen Klopp recently commented that their duel with City last season took a great effort from his side, and the same appears to be true for the champions. While Haaland's goals have contributed to masking City's dip in form, there are still some worries about his performance here, as he showed his underrated ability to come back and link play but still struggled to make an impact. Despite having the majority of possession in the game, City's expected goals (xG) was only 0.65.

This odd arrangement of this campaign implies City must still confront Arsenal twice in the Premier League and another 'practice run' FA Cup clash at the end of the month. Unless they can narrow the gap before the February 15th trip to Emirates Stadium, matters could become challenging.

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