Man United 1 Man City 2: Four lessons as Sergio Aguero settles the derby

Man United 1 Man City 2: What lessons did we learn as the Citizens close the gap to 12 points after a narrow win at Old Trafford?

Man United
1
Man City
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Giggs and Kompany errors bring Manchester derby to life

Ryan Giggs has been one of the standout performers over the past 10 Manchester derbies, scoring five goals and making four assists. The Wales international, who made his debut in this fixture two decades ago, was tasked with helping Manchester United contend with a five-man Manchester City midfield but it was the veteran’s error which resulted in the deadlock being broken in the 51st minute. Giggs’s attempted back-heel was read by Gareth Barry, with the ball eventually falling to James Milner – and the 27-year-old drilled a low finish past David De Gea. The midfielder was unbeaten in all previous 29 Premier League matches in which he has scored for his club. But initially it proved anything but a lucky omen for the defending champions. Yaya Toure needlessly fouled Rafael Da Silva and Robin van Persie’s subsequent free-kick drew Joe Hart off his line. The England No1 misjudged the flight and pace of the cross and Phil Jones’s header was deflected into the City net by Vincent Kompany – only the second own goal in this fixture in the Premier League era.

Aguero seizes his big moment

Sergio Aguero is no stranger to big goals – none bigger than that strike which sealed the Premier League crown last May – and the City substitute delivered at Old Trafford. Roberto Mancini replaced Samir Nasri with the Argentina international in the 70th minute, and it took the former Atletico Madrid man just nine minutes to leave his mark on the derby. The 24-year-old picked up the ball on the edge of the United area and darted across the area, out-foxing three opposition defenders, before lifting his shot into the roof of the net. Aesthetically much easier on the eye than his QPR winner, Aguero’s 10th Premier League goal of the season may not win the Citizens a second title, but it could give City a much-needed confidence boost ahead of the 2013-14 campaign. It was a spirited display by City, who denied United the double over their neighbours, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s men will still claim their 13th Premier League title at a canter. It highlighted that the gap between the local rivals isn’t too big but City must match United’s consistency in future campaigns.

Silva and Tevez sparkle at Old Trafford

With City playing for pride at Old Trafford, David Silva and Carlos Tevez led the challenge for the visitors against the champions elect. Silva, who was the chief architect of the 6-1 victory at the Theatre of Dreams in 2011, created an early chance for his Argentine team-mate, who was denied an easy finish by Phil Jones’s excellent block. The former Valencia man made 12 successful passes in the final third in the first half but it was a more direct approach which brought about City’s best chance before the break. Silva’s shot was deflected into the path of Samir Nasri but the French midfielder thrashed an effort wide of David De Gea’s post. Tevez always relishes taking on his former employers and the 27-year-old played a key role, pressing the United defenders and working tirelessly to win back possession. If Mancini can extract the best from that pair next season, City can make up the 12-point deficit.

Young struggles to seize his chance

Sir Alex Ferguson kept faith with Ashley Young on the left wing for the Manchester derby ahead of Shinji Kagawa or starting Wayne Rooney out wide. But the England international struggled to make an impact, with City experiencing plenty of success attacking Patrice Evra and Young, particularly in the first half. When the former Aston Villa man was relieved of his defensive duties, he lacked the confidence to take on the visitors’ formidable right-back Pablo Zabaleta. Young’s delivery was poor as he failed to provide any service for United’s attacking duo Rooney and Robin van Persie, encapsulated by a horrid free-kick in the 87th minute with the home side chasing an equaliser. Ferguson’s decision to start Young ahead of Nani was perhaps born out of the England winger’s performance in a 3-2 win at the Etihad earlier this season, but the Portugal international deserves a run of games on the basis of Young’s display on Monday night.

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