It is the stuff of dreams. Marcus Rashford, born and bred Mancunian settles the derby with a well taken finish. From Argentina to Spain to the Ivory Coast, there is a whole array of nationalities on display consisting of some of the best players in the land. Yet, it was a local eighteen year old that settled the tie to give Manchester United all three points in the race for fourth place. With West Ham dropping two points at Chelsea yesterday, United knew there was a massive opportunity to close the gap as we enter the final eight games of the season.
United were good, whilst City were wasteful in front of goal. However, Sergio Aguero was unlucky not to score in the second half – striking David De Gea’s left hand post. The little Argentine was quality throughout the match, however – Chris Smalling, despite an early booking, rarely put a foot wrong and marshalled Aguero away from goal. Rashford was lively too and showcased his quick feet as he took on Bacary Sagna and Martín Demichelis on a regular basis. His goal in the sixteenth minute was exceptionally taken as he picked up a Juan Mata pass, before blazing past Demichelis, who went to ground far easily, and slotted home.
It was United’s first win at City since the 3-2 victory in 2012, when Robin van Persie scored a last gasp winner , and although the significance of the win, in terms of title chasing, has diminished – Louis van Gaal will be over moon at the thought of Champions League football at Old Trafford once again next season. City’s record against top half teams in the Premier League is abysmal and are very much in free fall – coinciding with the news of the appointment of Pep Guardiola at the end of the season. It may not be a vintage season, but it doesn’t get better than a win over City with an academy player scoring the winner.
Rashford takes Martín Demichelis to the cleaners
Many players over the years have made an almighty impact on their debut and then fizzled out, never reaching the heights of that early promise. Federico Macheda springs to mind. Scoring an unbelievable goal on his debut against Aston Villa in the dying seconds of the game, Macheda failed to live up to that wonderful moment – that helped United onto the Premier League title. Marcus Rashford has made a similar impact, although not for the riches that were on offer in 2009, in his first few games in the first team.
Two goals in the Europa League against Danish minnows FC Midtjylland was followed up with two goals at home against Arsenal. It was an electric start to his Manchester United career, which then went a little quiet – as expected, considering his age – against Watford, Liverpool, WBA and West Ham. Against City, he was exceptional – playing against Martin Demichelis, capped 49 times by Argentina, and Eliaquim Mangala – who cost City over £30million. The eighteen year old showed confidence beyond his years, with some lightning burst and step overs.
Demichelis was woeful throughout the match and went to ground far too easy to allow Rashford to burst past and score the only goal of the game. The Argentine, who at 35 will surely be heading out the door in the summer, was lucky not to give a penalty away at the end of the first half – again against Marcus Rashford, who was pushed to the ground to only be given a corner for his efforts. Demichelis was withdrawn early in the second half, having given a hospital ball back to Joe Hart, who hurried out of his goal to injury his calf against Anthony Martial.
Rashford has made a wonderful start to his Manchester United career and has not looked fazed when playing in big games. Who knows what the future holds for any player – however, with the form that he is in – Louis van Gaal should look to play the youngster as much as he can until the end of the season considering how well he links up well with both Martial and Jesse Lingard.
Louis van Gaal silences critics…again
There were reports earlier in the day that United had signed a pre-contract agreement with Jose Mourinho to take charge of the club next season. If you believed what the papers say, Louis van Gaal has been on borrowed time for the majority of the season – but continues to defy his critics by prolonging his United career and picking up important wins when he appears down and out.
Wins away at Liverpool and now City, combined with the 3-2 victory over Arsenal – are moments in recent months that show the quality United do have when they want to play, however – it has been all too rare this season. United could well finish in the top four, despite having a below par season – and qualify the Champions League. The club are still in the FA Cup and, if the club sees off West Ham – will fancy making the final.
“I’m very happy. I think it shall give the dressing room a boost and real belief. It’s also fantastic for the fans. We played a very good first half and we fought until the end to survive because a lot of players had cramp.”
-Louis van Gaal on United’s 1-0 win over City
Michael Carrick, Daley Blind and Chris Smalling all put in top class performances
With Marcus Rashford grabbing the headlines, and rightfully so, for scoring the winner in the derby – United fans will be extremely pleased with the performances Carrick, Blind and Smalling. All three were exceptional throughout the game and played a big part in the win for Louis van Gaal. Michael Carrick, who had received some criticism for his lacklustre performances of recent weeks, rolled back the years – switching the play with cross field passes, intercepting the ball and generally controlling the play when United were in possession.
Since the start of the season, many fans have questioned whether Daley Blind is a long term solution at centre half. Many have questioned his height and pace to feature alongside Chris Smalling. Blind is an exceptional technician on the ball and his distribution is top class to compliment the strength and pace of Smalling. Although his delivery from corners wasn’t of his usual quality, Blind did extremely well up against one of the best striker in Europe. His centre half partner, Smalling, was also colossal at the back, marshalling the little Argentine all afternoon – winning headers and stepping in front to intercept the ball.