Manchester United won their first Manchester derby in five attempts this afternoon as goals from Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata and Chris Smalling cancelled out two strikes from Sergio Aguero.
United legend Gordon Hill told RetroUnited.com, “It was a really quality performance and a good step to taking a European spot for next season where we belong.”
Former United player and leading pundit Danny Higginbotham gave us his choice for Man of the Match.
Below are our ratings to coincide.
David De Gea – 7 – Blameless for either goal (in fact, it was an outstanding attempt to prevent the second), De Gea’s timing for interceptions and clearances was spot on.
Antonio Valencia – 7 – Perhaps at fault for a couple of City attacks in the first half, and was one of four players caught out for the opener, but solid and strong going forward.
Phil Jones – 7 – Struggled with the pace of City’s attack early on but managed to recover and put in a committed display.
Chris Smalling – 8 – Redeemed himself after his Etihad horror show to score his fourth league goal of the season. Polished performance from the defender who continues to improve.
Daley Blind – 8 – Like Jones, looked like he may struggle early on with the pace of his opponent, but recovered to nullify the threat of Jesus Navas and form part of a combination that City struggled to deal with in the first half.
Michael Carrick – 9 – For too long, Michael Carrick has been the unsung player in United’s midfield. For too long, United supporters have not seen their number 16 dictate and influence the play of a game of this importance. Today, the waiting was over – and the transparency of his influence is perhaps thanks in large part to the manager.
Ander Herrera – 7 – A relatively quiet game for the Spaniard, compared to the loud ones of recent weeks. Nonetheless, a good performance from a player who is now surely a mainstay in the Reds starting XI.
Juan Mata – 8 – The nicest man in football grabbed the crucial goal in this encounter, putting the distance between the sides which decided the game. Demonstrated the class and composure that was crucial to United’s victory, despite not being involved for large portions of the first half which saw the host’s comeback.
*Marouane Fellaini – 9 – Just over a year ago, United legend Gordon Hill told the Retro United podcast how he walked out of Old Trafford with his former side staring a heavy defeat against Liverpool in the face and the Belgian coming on as a substitute. Today, Fellaini added yet another performance to his unlikely resume as major game changer for United, in performances that are as exciting if not more than anything supporters have seen at the club for years to boot. RetroUnited.com columnist Danny Higginbotham declared Fellaini his joint man of the match. “For movement and creating space for runners,” says Danny. “City couldn’t handle him.”
*Ashley Young – 9 – The other star man for Danny, for his set up play, Young was outstanding – his return to prominence has seen him more assured of a starting spot at the club than at any other time – even after when he first signed – and this performance was up there with his best ever at Old Trafford. Young was influential in United’s last league win against City and was again today, grabbing a vital goal at a vital time.
Wayne Rooney – 7 – So often City’s tormentor on derby day, today was a quiet day for the captain, who was often on the periphery, but created enough of a nuisance to keep City’s defenders busy. Today was simply a day where others shone brighter.
Subs : Rojo (7), Di Maria, Falcao