By Barry McEvoy.
Clinical. Probably the apt word to describe the first half. Neither side had many chances, but the chances that they did have were turned to goals. City started the better side and deservedly went one – nil up after twenty-seven minutes with a well worked goal finished off by Jordi Hiwula. Denis Suarez carved the United midfield open with a pass to Albert Rusnak who then set Hiwula off with a nicely weighted through ball. The City striker kept up his excellent recent scoring record with that being his seventh goal in as many games.
United barely had time to gather themselves before the ball flew past Liam Jacob again to make it two – nil to the Blues. A long pass up the field found Rusnak and he then brushed past Charni Ekangamene with ease to slot the ball into United’s net. Suarez made a nuisance of himself again as he was taken down illegally by Declan Dalley on the edge of the box, but thankfully the free-kick, taken by Suarez, flew over the cross bar.
Manchester United captain, Luke McCullough, was forced to come off after a clash of heads with Hiwula gave him a nasty cut on his eye, he was replaced by Ben Pearson. The Reds pulled one back minutes after the substitution with a composed finish preceded by some tidy passing on the wing between Joe Rothwell and Jack Barmby made an opening for Rothwell to get in a cross to the unmarked Gyliano van Velzen who made the scoreline 2-1. McGuinness’ team had the best of the end of the first half, but on the overall balance of play City deserved to have the lead at the break.
The second-half left a lot to be desired. It was very much a midfield battle. United perhaps had the best of the play, but couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard. City’s Suarez showed some great examples of his technical ability and drew a foul from Tyler Blackett and the United player received a booking for his troubles. The momentum started to shift back into City’s favour and their work was eventually rewarded. Rusnak won a very dubious penalty from Luke Hendrie on the edge of the box. Rusnak stepped up and slotted the penalty home on seventy-three minutes.
The rest of the game fizzled out into nothingness as both sides made numerous substitutions and neither team had any real attempts at goal. Among the subs for City was Devante Cole, son of United legend Andy Cole. Despite Rusnak playing a part in all three City goals, scoring two and assisting one, Suarez was the most impressive player on the pitch for me today. Perhaps a lazy, but unavoidable player comparison is David Silva. They both play in the same kind of free-role position and ping the ball around the field at ease. City deserved their win, there can be no arguments about it, they took the chances they got and were the better team for large periods of the game. It will take a good side to beat them this season.
Team: Jacob; Hendrie, McCullough (Pearson 35), Dalley, Blackett; Barmby, Rothwell, Enkangamene, van Velzen (Gorre 82); Lawrence (Daehli 74), Byrne.
Subs not used: Coll, Rudge.