Bruno Fernandes lights up Old Trafford as Manchester United secure derby win over City

The Red Devils completed the double over their rivals for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement

Ole Gunnar Solakjer: Manchester United will suffer not being in Champions League

As the rain returned, pelting down over Old Trafford, the home crowd were up to applaud their new maestro. It will not be remarkable news that Bruno Fernandes once again delivered a decisive performance for Manchester United.

That he was luminary on an evening when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side completed a league double over Manchester City for the first time since Alex Ferguson retired, a feat last achieved in 2009-10, was more distinguishable.

The terraces thundered at the final whistle, the noise not only signifying the importance of the result, but the magnitude of the performance.

In keeping with the other episodes of this season’s Manchester derbies, there were shades of the unexpected – none more so than Pep Guardiola’s men being thoroughly outplayed.

The tone was set early on through Anthony Martial’s excellent defensive header inside his own six-yard box under pressure from Nicolas Otamendi. Fred followed up that unforeseen piece of play by nutmegging Oleksandr Zinchenko and the shredding of the script continued on the half-hour mark.

United celebrate taking the lead against City

In the build-up to Sunday’s showdown, it was emphasised that no player has made more errors leading to a goal in the Premier League than David De Gea’s seven since the start of 2018-19. Instead, it was Ederson uncharacteristically erring at Old Trafford.

Fernandes was felled by Ilkay Gundogan and while City protested the strength of referee Mike Dean’s decision to award a free-kick, the Portugal international was plotting a way to be instrumental. With the visitors still settling in to defend the deadball, he chipped an intelligent pass to Martial. The striker’s first-time volley squirmed underneath a passive Ederson and inside the near post to earn United a deserved advantage.

In the closing minutes, there was an increase of misery for the Brazil international. Fred’s overhit pass rolled to the goalkeeper, who picked it up and threw it out only for Scott McTominay to cover spades of ground as he sped to the ball first and directed his 35-yard effort into an empty net.

The midfielder called it a “sweet moment” and a “beautiful feeling,” but it was also the silver lining to a massive statement. United didn’t just beat City, they bettered them.

The League Cup victors lionised the ball at Old Trafford, but in another facet of play that could not be predicted, they failed to be threatening with it or control the shape of the game.

United swarmed them and never afforded Guardiola's charges the chance to be comfortable in the encounter. City managed just one shot in total during the first half and were fortunate to enter the break having conceded only once. At the end of the match, it will have been a relief to them that the scoreline wasn’t greater than 2-0.

"The desire, attitude, commitment, connection between fans and players pleased me most," Solskjaer said.

"At times we pressed them, pushed them back, we tried to be aggressive. We made them make mistakes and we are happy with the result.

"It is a privilege to be a manager of a squad with this attitude. You can't ask for more. They are going to improve as players as well.

"To beat a team like Manchester City is fantastic, I am delighted for them."

Guardiola was unsure of what system Solskjaer would employ, but he correctly forecasted that United would be combative rather than risk averse. City have now lost seven league matches this season, which is one more than both Wolves and Arsenal.

United celebrate taking the lead against City

“It was a bad game for us. Not acceptable,” Bernardo Silva admitted.

“We know how good the Manchester United players are on the counter-attack, very aggressive. So our performance was not acceptable.

“We will have to watch the game back and listen to what Pep has to say. But a team like ours cannot lose this many games. We need to check what’s not going right and try not to make so many mistakes.”

Solskjaer, by contrast, will be reflecting on the encouraging elements for United. He believed that “all the ingredients” were present for his side to finally claim a derby victory on their own turf and in the midst of all that was unexpected on Sunday, the Norwegian’s credence was spot on.

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