Guardiola’s men falter yet again after a disastrous second half against a resilient Manchester United side which saw City give away a 2-0 first half lead to lose the tie 2-3 at the Etihad after Paul Pogba’s crucial brace coming in just under 90 seconds broke City hearts as they now wait a couple of weeks more to be crowned the Premier League champions.
City needed just 3 points to widen the gap to 19 points which would mean they couldn’t be eclipsed by second placed United with 6 matches to go. However, Saturday’s loss now equates to City now need two more wins to mathematically win the league provided United don’t lose points on the way.
The 176th Manchester derby lived up to it’s expectations as fans saw an open game with both sides trying to win the tie and challenge for the title. Here’s 5 talking points of the tie:
●Guardiola unhappy with City defence:
The defense was again to blame after the hosts looked completely clueless in the second half as they conceded two goals in a span of 2 minutes early in the second half, both by ex-Juventus man Paul Pogba and later on by Chris Smalling in the 67th minute. Nicolas Otamendi made some costly errors in the second half and with the forwards unable to add to the score, the visitors took full advantage and added 3 points in their kitty.
●Pogba influence crucial for United:
Paul Pogba undoubtedly had his best match in United colors and too against local rivals and runaway champions Man City. On a night when it mattered the most, Pogba delivered and his two quick fire goals in the 53rd and 55th minute shifted the momentum to the United side. His brilliant run for the second goal was completely misread by Otamendi as Pogba walked home with the MOTM.
● Refereeing errors by Atkinson a spoilsport:
Yesterday’s match referee Martin Atkinson denied a clear penalty to Sergio Aguero who received a two-footed slide tackle by Ashley Young just inside the box in the dying minutes of the game which could have brought down the tie to a 3-3 scoreline. There were widespread discussions regarding the poor officiating the league as the group leaders slumped to thier first home loss for the season.
●David de Gea a savior for the Reds:
Against a deadly City frontline including Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling, de Gea produced some sensational saves in the dying minutes to stop City from getting crowned the champions. City had six shots on target compared to United’s four which just proved how crucial de Gea is for the United side. A right-handed save against a bullet Aguero header coming towards his left and an injury time save off Sterling’s mistimed shot cost Blues the tie.
●City’s frontline flop yet again:
Raheem Sterling had a night to forget as the English forward missed quite a few chances to seal the match. After a dreadful outing against Liverpool last week, Leroy Sané had a poor match too as the front pairings of Sané, Sterling and Bernardo Silva failed to capitalize on any chance created forward. With Jesus and Aguero coming off the bench in the dying minutes, it was all but over for the Blues as de Gea made sure the 2-3 scoreline remain stagnant till the end.