18-year-old wonder kid Marcus Rashford contributed to the revival of Manchester United’s hopes of playing in the Champions League next season, with a 16th minute winner in the Manchester derby.
Rashford became the youngest scorer in the history of the fixture, as his winning goal took Louis van Gaal’s team to within just a point of fourth place Manchester City. The teenager demonstrated his lighting pace and quick feet as he skipped past Martin Demichelis, before threading the ball through the vice-like grip of England’s No.1 Joe Hart.
It was a catastrophic day for City and Manuel Pellegrini, now United and West Ham United queue up to condemn them to the Europa League. Not only did they lose the derby, but they also saw Joe Hart carried off early in the second half as he rescued City from a treacherous Demichelis back pass.
The news is especially damaging upon considering the fact that Vincent Kompany is sidelined for the foreseeable future. Raheem Sterling also departed the action early, as he picked up a groin injury in the first half.
Sergio Agüero appeared threatening as always and was unfortunate to see his acute header rattle the post. The Argentinian might also feel aggrieved at the fact that Chris Smalling could have been sent off for multiple fouls, as the pair battled it out for the 90 minutes.
However City only have themselves to blame for the flat and insipid performance on Sunday and Pellegrini will have to remedy the club’s issues before they are leapfrogged by their biggest rivals. The absence of Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne was clear in the encounter as City struggled to maintain width and creativity.
Despite Smalling’s occasional mistimed tackle United’s centre back received man of the match, and was instrumental in defying the likes of Agüero and Yaya Touré. At the other end of the pitch, Jesse Lingard occupied the central attacking midfield position with great adequacy as Anthony Martial continued to be a menacing outlet for United.
The Red Devils will have undoubtedly gained great confidence from the derby win, but van Gaal and his team have a lot more work to do if they are to avoid the inconsistent pattern of their season perpetuating.
TNT Sport Billy Rooney