Sunday’s Manchester derby had an electric atmosphere filled with frenetic actions, as the two Premier League rivals showed their best in what they are best known for.
Manchester United emerged winners after their 18-year-old striker became the fisrt youngster derby scorer in the Premier League era as his cool finish put the Red Devils back in pursuit for a top four finish.
The youngster struck after 16 minutes, becoming the youngest player to score a goal in the history of the Manchester derby. City increased the pressure throughout the second half and had their chances to equalize, but they couldn’t find a way past David De Gea.
Rashford might also have added a penalty to his 16th-minute goal as he ran the error-prone Martin Demichelis ragged and City again cracked under the pressure in their now apparently doomed Premier League title bid.
United sit just a single point behind City after the win, as the race for the fourth and final UEFA Champions League spot grows ever more intense.
Here’s what we learnt from Sunday’s Manchester derby.
The new Red Devil’s attacking line is working.
With Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard in attack, United clearly fancied their chances against City’s back-up central defensive pairing and home fans’ fears were soon realized.
With Juan Mata providing a good backup for the young attackers, United could have a better chance of rekindling their top-four hopes.
Juan Mata burst through a gap and slipped in Rashford, who took the ball in his stride and showed a little panache to skip past Demichelis and fire a low shot past Hart.
United might have had another moments later as Martial connected with a powerful shot from distance but Hart saved well.
Marcus Rashford continue to flourish as a natural center- forward.
Almost a month ago United were lacking a natural center-forward who could help them score goals and earn them points. Now, the Old Trafford outfit has Rashford who was handed a starting role in the Europa League eight games ago.
Rashford scored the winning goal for United, just 16 minutes into the game, and Van Gaal praised him for as a “real striker” after his derby winner.
“He is a real striker and that’s why I let him stay in that position because he can make goals,” Van Gaal told Sky Sports.
“But he is also an attacking point and runs the channels. I like him very much. But he is 18 years old so we have to wait and see how consistent he is.”
Martial is excellent playing United’s left.
Martial has proven he is growing in statures since he was moved to the left after the emergence of Rashford. The French starlet’s running ability as served as a big boost for United’s attacking line, making him a vital part in Van Gaal’s attacking plan.
He nearly doubled United’s lead minutes later (after Rashford’s 16th minute goal), as Demichelis once again struggled to keep up with United’s quick forwards.
Chris Smalling continues to lead United’s central defense.
United’s defender Chris Smalling put in another excellent performance during the Sunday’s derby, and United fans are already sure they have a strong defense in him.
Michael Carrick, David De Gea and Morgan Schneiderlin also proved their worth as grate members of Van Gaal’s squad. Schneiderlin’s box-to-box role was excellent as he contributed to attacks and showed good technical abilities.