Marcus Rashford lit up Manchester once again as United beat City at the Etihad Stadium to narrow the gap on fourth place. After a high tempo start, Rashford’s lightening pace saw he through to give the Red Devils the lead after only 16 minutes. England boss Roy Hodgson will also be saying a prayer for goalkeeper Joe Hart who was stretchered off just after half time. Sergio Aguero hit the post in the second half but United held out to close the gap between the two sides to just one point. Manchester City started the derby the stronger of the two sides with winger Jesus Navas missing with a volley early on before firing a shot straight at the feet of David De Gea minutes later. However, it was United who struck first when, against the run of play, Juan Mata fed Rashford, whose quick feet and turn of pace left Martin Demichelis on his backside before calmly slotting past Joe Hart.
The game became quite frantic with City commanding the majority of possession but United looking frightening on the break with their pacey attacking triumvirate of Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial.
And it was Rashford who should have been awarded a penalty on the stroke of half time when he skinned Demichelis before the Argentine stepped across him to bring him down but referee Michael Oliver controversially shook his head to dismiss the protests of the United players.
A loose backpass from Demichelis – who had a torrid afternoon – left Hart stretching for the ball and while clearing the ball from the threat of Martial, he injured his calf and was consequently stretchered off.Aguero had an opportunity to pull back an equaliser at the front post on 65 minutes but his header from Yaya Toure’s cross hit the outside of the post. And Aguero had another chance moments later but this time his looping header was just wide of the target. Questions will continue to be asked of City’s decision to announce Manuel Pellegrini’s departure so early while Rashford’s goals continue to ease the pressure on Louis van Gaal. –