x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

David Moyes suffers humiliating first Manchester derby defeat

Manchester City routed their bitter rivals 4-1 in a dominant display at Etihad Stadium.

David Moyes was unhappy with his players. Darren Staples / Reuters
David Moyes was unhappy with his players. Darren Staples / Reuters

MANCHESTER CITY 4

Aguero 16’, 47’, Toure 45’, Nasri 50’

MANCHESTER UNITED 1

Rooney 87’

English football correspondent

MANCHESTER // For the final 40 minutes, the big screen contained a big scoreline. Manchester City had hit Manchester United for four. A result to ring around the world was executed in East Manchester and made in South America, the plans of the Chilean Manuel Pellegrini implemented by an Argentine.

Yet as Wayne Rooney set a record with his 11th goal in all-Mancunian meetings, his City counterpart rendered this a demolition derby. It has become a theme that Sergio Aguero is the scourge of United. But for his injury-time heroics on the final day of the campaign, they would have been champions in 2011/12. But for his superlative winner at Old Trafford in April, Sir Alex Ferguson’s final derby might not have ended in defeat. But for his double yesterday, David Moyes’s derby debut may not have been the embarrassment it was.

The smiling assassin was at his rampant best as Pellegrini cemented his position. The City supporters celebrated and serenaded his predecessor, Roberto Mancini, for his derby victories. Pellegrini, who oversaw a clinical dissection of United, has a win as comprehensive as any Mancini managed. It did not finish 6-1, as the Italian’s most famous triumph did, but neither did City have the cushion of a four-goal lead after 50 minutes that day.

“Normally you don’t expect to win 4-1 against Manchester United,” Pellegrini said. “Normally derbies are more equal.”

Thanks in a large part to a player with wonderful balance, this was anything but equal. Aguero’s opener was a goal fashioned on the City left and finished exquisitely with a left foot. Samir Nasri released the overlapping Aleksandar Kolarov, whose cross was volleyed in beautifully by Aguero.

His tally was doubled with another volley; this time Alvaro Negredo was the provider, the Spaniard swivelling to cross for his unmarked strike partner.

In between, the dominant Yaya Toure turned the ball over the line after Negredo rose above Chris Smalling to flick on Nasri’s corner. The coup de grace was applied by Nasri when Jesus Navas picked out the Frenchman to sweep home the fourth. It was a cathartic moment for Nasri, faulted by Mancini for United’s winner at Etihad Stadium nine months ago, but who played a part in all four goals.

Yet the derby decider last year was absent. United have entered two defining games without striking focal points; Rooney’s gashed forehead ruled him out at Liverpool while Robin van Persie’s groin problem yesterday prevented him from returning to the scene of his most significant United goal.

“Obviously you miss Robin Van Persie,” Moyes said. “He is a huge miss to anyone.”

Minus his sidekick, Rooney scored a delightful, but largely irrelevant, free kick. For much of the match, United’s double centurion cut a frustrated figure. He was cautioned after jostling with Vincent Kompany once too often and irritated by his teammates’ failings.

“He didn’t deserve to be on the losing team,” Moyes said. “He was outstanding.”

His colleagues stood out, but for the wrong reasons.

“We conceded poor goals,” Moyes said. “I am disappointed we didn’t perform. We never got a grip of the game and we could never really stop them.”

It was an indictment of his ageing defence and his over-run midfield.

“We got better as the game went on, but it was too late,” he said.

And so Moyes, whose three meetings with potential title rivals, in Chelsea, Liverpool and City, have produced meagre tallies of one goal and one point, has it all to prove in the major matches. Pellegrini has the victory that served as a resounding endorsement of his appointment. Mancini now belongs in City’s past.

sports@thenational.ae