Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United: Rashford’s rocket, Foden the goalscorer and inevitable Haaland

Manchester City needed to win Sunday’s derby to keep the pressure on Liverpool and Arsenal at the top of the Premier League. For Manchester United it was more about local pride, particularly after a 6-3 defeat in this fixture last season.

We know what to expect from these games these days. City will have lots of the ball and plenty of shots, while United will attempt to hit their neighbours on the break. The first half was exactly that. Marcus Rashford scored one of the goals of the season (0.03 xG), Erling Haaland then produced one of the misses (0.89), one of 18 shots Pep Guardiola’s team had before the break. United had just two.

City finally scored on 56 minutes — with a Phil Foden goal that was as impressive as Rashford’s. That was his 17th of the season and his 18th, which arrived with 10 minutes of the game remaining, wrapped up a derby of great goals and possibly even greater significance, given how tight it remains at the top of the table. Erling Haaland then added some gloss to the scoreline (and made up for his first half miss) with a third in stoppage time.

Here our writers break down the key moments from today’s game.

How much did injury impact Marcus Rashford’s performance?

Marcus Rashford’s wonder strike was all the more remarkable given he has been struggling with injury since the Nottingham Forest game. Rashford got sandwiched in between two Forest defenders when running into the box during the FA Cup tie on Wednesday and took a jab to his ribs, then jammed his hip on the fall.

Rashford was able to train each session ahead of the derby but required attention from club doctor Gary O’Driscoll. In advance of the game at the Etihad, Rashford’s column for Players Tribune urged fans to understand his commitment to United and his incredible hit eight minutes was an explosive affirmation of that statement. His impassioned celebration in front of delirious away end further showed his passion.

Rashford offered a real threat on the break, but he was not perfect — failing to get the ball under control when clear in the first half with Kyle Walker in pursuit and then miscuing his shot in the box to a Bruno Fernandes cross.

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Rashford did not look fully right, though. About 25 minutes in he signalled to the bench for support, looking in some discomfort. O’Driscoll emerged and waited by the touchline for the rest of the half, but Rashford in the end did not require treatment.

In the second half he was outstripped for speed in a couple of races with Walker, including the duel that Erik ten Hag was adamant should have resulted in a United free-kick. City went up the other end and scored through Phil Foden.

A sign Rashford was not fully fit came when he was substituted for Antony on 75 minutes.

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Rashford opens the scoring (Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Laurie Whitwell

Is Phil Foden now a proper goalscorer?

Three years ago, Guardiola was asked how many goals Foden can score if he improves his composure. “A lot,” he replied. “Sometimes the last part of the last action is a little bit … But it’s normal at his age. He will get it, no doubts. I know we can trust and rely on him all the time.”

And, you know what, that composure has not yet fully kicked in! Think of his effort in the first half, of against a one against one against Brentford at the Etihad a couple of weeks ago, and even a poor finish after a dazzling run in the Champions League final and you realise there are still levels he can go to.

All of which is to say: imagine when he gets there. The progression over the past three years as been exactly as Guardiola hoped and expected and this season he is growing into City’s main man. His second goal on Sunday, especially so soon after a superbly taken hat-trick at Brentford, shows that he is really getting there on the composure front. He has missed a few chances from that angle over the years but his team needed him to get that one, and he did it. Add it to the earlier screamer and you get a “world class” player, as Guardiola called him last weekend.

Eighteen goals this season tell you in which direction he is heading.

Sam Lee

In praise of screamers

At a time when some football supporters are worrying that the emphasis upon ‘expected goals’ is depriving the game of long-range thunderbolts, here we were treated to two spectacular efforts that defied the statistics.

Both goals, from homegrown academy players, were extraordinary hits — Marcus Rashford’s opener striking the bar and bouncing in, and Phil Foden’s equaliser sailing straight into the top corner.

Of the 29 shots in the game, these attempts were effectively the two lowest in xG value. A shot from the position Rashford struck the ball from was considered to have a 3% chance of finding the net, and Foden’s attempt was a mere 2 per cent-er. Only Kyle Walker’s long-range attempt, hit straight at Andre Onana with 20 minutes remaining, was equally as speculative — another 3 per cent shot.

On the other hand, Erling Haaland managed to turn a 90 per cent chance over the crossbar, and Rashford’s other attempt — indeed, United’s only other attempt in the game — was a 0.18xG chance that he completely failed to make contact with, falling over following his air-kick. Sometimes, football can be gloriously unpredictable.

Michael Cox

How did Jonny Evans do in his first away derby since 2012? 

The last time Jonny Evans featured in a match at the Etihad for United was the game where Robin van Persie scored an injury time winner under Sir Alex Ferguson in December 2012. More than 12 years on, and aged 36, Evans was restored to the starting line-up. He had only returned to United in the summer to stay fit with the under-21s after leaving Leicester, but here he was asked to shackle Erling Haaland, a player 13 years his junior. As accomplished a player as Evans is, his selection says much about United’s injuries and squad building.

Last summer Ten Hag recognised Evans could offer United a reliable option in defence for this campaign, and pushed for a one-year contract, but he would not have anticipated using the centre-back in a situation like this. Evans also started the derby at Old Trafford in October.

Evans did much good work as City dominated possession and tried to prise apart United in the box. At one stage, living up to his nickname as the Belfast Beckenbauer, he made an interception, shimmied past his man, then burst upfield for a move that at one stage looked threatening.

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(Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

At the other end of the spectrum was Kobbie Mainoo, playing in his first Manchester derby aged 18. He was just seven for that Van Persie game.

Mainoo also showed impressive moments, notably springing to intercept during one passage of City pressure and moving past Kevin de Bruyne such that he got tugged back and won a free-kick. Mainoo also put a great pass through for Alejandro Garnacho that Ederson just about timed his intervention right for. But ultimately, United were beaten by the better team.

Laurie Whitwell

Just how important was this win for City? 

City had to win this one. If the pre-derby nerves weren’t bad enough for most fans, who cared little for the pre-match predictions of a walkover, then Liverpool’s last-gasp winner at Saturday made a victory even more imperative.

That Liverpool win in Nottingham made it feel like something had shifted, and although City have lived through even tight title races with the Reds to know that it is all about what Guardiola’s men do, a momentum-generating win for Jurgen Klopp’s men is never welcome.

And for those who were not aware, City travel to Anfield next Sunday. So yeah, this one was pretty important, and the comeback nature of proceedings make it all the sweeter for Guardiola’s champions/challengers.

Sam Lee

What did the managers say?

We’ll have post-match quotes from Pep Guardiola and Erik ten Hag here soon.

What next for Manchester City?

Wednesday, March 6: Copenhagen (H), UEFA Champions League, 8pm GMT, 3pm ET

Sunday, March 10: Liverpool (A), Premier League, 3.45pm GMT, 10.45am ET

What next for Manchester United?

Saturday, March 9: Everton (H), Premier League, 12.30pm GMT, 7.30am ET

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(Top photo: Getty Images)

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