Benjamin Mendy revealed Manchester City’s players issued themselves with a half-time warning to prevent a repeat of last season’s derby collapse.
Pep Guardiola’s side beat Manchester United 3-1 on Sunday after being a goal up through David Silva at the interval.
But left-back Mendy said that they were conscious of their previous meeting in April, when Jose Mourinho’s team trailed 2-0 after 45 minutes and recovered to win the game – and were eager to avert a sequel.
“In the dressing room at half time, we had spoken about what happened in the derby last year, and we were telling each other not to let that happen again,” the France international said.
“We remember it went 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, so we had to stay focused, keep trying to play and make chances. Every player was saying the same thing: ‘OK, guys, don’t do the same as last year; be careful; pay attention.’ So when we came back on the pitch, we played better than the first half, so won the derby.”
Sergio Aguero added a second goal three minutes into the second half, and after Anthony Martial gave United hope of mounting another memorable comeback with a goal from the penalty spot, substitute Ilkay Gundogan clinched victory for City.
“Kun [Aguero] scored and then Gundogan and it was perfect,” Mendy said. “We stayed focused. We know it was a derby, and for the fans, and for us, the team and the city it’s very important.”
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Goalkeeper Ederson argued United were fortunate to only lose by two goals, such was City’s superiority, and argued that they could have extended their advantage.
“We did a great game and [got] a deserved win,” the Brazilian said. “We were way better than United – if we had pushed more we could have got a larger result.”
City had not conceded a league goal since September 1, until Ederson was beaten from the penalty spot on successive Sundays.
Both spot kicks – the first was both won and scored by Southampton’s Danny Ings – were conceded by Ederson, who is encouraged to come off his line by Guardiola, but erred again when he fouled Martial.
“I haven't watched the penalty yet,” said the goalkeeper, 25. “I tried to retract my hands, but had no time to do that. There was contact between us, but I don't know if it was enough for a penalty. It's a quick decision in a moment of the game. I tried to get the ball, it happens. When a goalkeeper makes a mistake, there is no one to save the goal. A striker can miss three or four chances and still score the fifth. It's different for a goalkeeper.”
Defeat leaves United in eighth place and with a negative goal difference, and City midfielder Bernardo Silva, who set up his side’s first and third goals, suggested they are almost out of the title race, as he warned their neighbours they now have no margin for error.
United are 12 points behind City, and the Portuguese said: “It won't be easy. Not only Man City – 10 points from Liverpool, a lot of points from the other ones as well. They need to be almost perfect and wait for the other ones to lose a lot of points.”
United substitute Juan Mata said they have to reflect on what went wrong, as what had been an encouraging week, including a Uefa Champions League victory over Juventus, ended on a sour note.
“If after Turin we returned home happy and positive, after the Manchester derby we obviously felt the complete opposite,” the Spaniard wrote in his blog.
“It is a tough defeat to take because it is a special fixture. It is the time to analyse what we are doing well and where we have to improve, to make sure we’re at our best for the barrage of games that awaits us between now and the end of the year.”