Barclays Premier League
Manchester City vs. Manchester United
Venue: The Etihad Stadium
Date: Sunday, 20 March 2016
Kick-off: 16:00 GMT
Manchester United claimed the local bragging rights after seeing off neighbours and rivals Manchester City 1-0 at the Eithad Stadium.
Local lad and academy graduate Marcus Rashford scored the only goal of the game a quarter of an hour in, taking his respective tally to an impressive five goals in eight games.
He should have been awarded a penalty too on the stroke of half-time, but United held onto a precious three points and closed the gap on City and fourth place to just one point.
Early on, Jesus Navas shot wide before being denied by the boot of David De Gea with a low strike.
Then came the goal, with Juan Mata’s forward pass finding Rashford, who left Martin Demichelis on his backside as he skipped past the defender, before slotting a clinical finish past Joe Hart.
Looking to build on the lead, Anthony Martial saw a powerful shot parried, with Demichelis looking to atone for his error at the other end, only to glance a header wide from David Silva’s free-kick.
Captain in the absence of Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure was off-target on two separate occasions, with Rashford getting the better of Demichelis once more, only to be barged to the ground by the Argentine, but referee Michael Oliver deemed the challenge fair.
Not long after the second half began, Hart was forced off through injury, with Willy Caballero on in his place, and he was called into action from the off, denying Marcos Rojo at his near post before pushing away Martial’s deflected effort.
After that, it was City who dictated the play as United sat and dug in, with Sergio Aguero curling an attempt over the bar, as Chris Smalling expertly blocked Wilfried Bony at the near post from a Navas cross.
Another cross, this time from Toure, was met by the head of Aguero, but the post came to United’s rescue, although De Gea had his angles covered.
Aguero and Navas then fired over, with Bony seeing a shot blocked from Toure’s pull-back in-between the two aforementioned chances.
Fernando headed wide from Silva’s free-kick before the latter’s diagonal pass found Aguero inside the box in stoppage time, but despite his control allowing him to get his strike away, the ball dropped wide.
Doing everything to see out the game, Louis van Gaal’s side held on to claim a huge three points, not just given it was against City, but because they are right back in the hunt for the Champions League places, which has become even more vital after Thursday’s Europa League exit.
It is a shame that the international break has now arrived, as United would have hoped to continue the momentum created from this victory.
However, this two week diversion from club football can allow players to return from injury, with Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson in contention to return from the sidelines, where they will be needed heading into the final stages of the season.
With March ending on a high, United return to action on April 3, where Everton will be the visitors to Old Trafford that Sunday, with a 4pm kick-off commencing proceedings.
Manchester United: De Gea; Darmian (Fosu-Mensah 84), Smalling, Blind, Rojo (Valencia 63); Carrick, Schneiderlin; Lingard, Mata (Schweinsteiger 70), Martial; Rashford.
Subs: Romero, Valencia, Fosu-Mensah, Fellaini, Schweinsteiger, Memphis, Januzaj.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Manchester City: Hart (Caballero 50); Sagna, Demichelis (Bony 53), Mangala, Clichy; Fernandinho, Toure; Navas, Silva, Sterling (Fernando 26); Aguero.
Subs: Caballero, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Fernando, Garcia, Bony, Iheanacho.
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini