Friday, April 27, 2018

Man United 1-0 Man City: Juan Mata saves the day and sends clear message to Jose Mourinho

Mata's goal a difference on the night at Old Trafford / IMage via

Mata’s goal a difference on the night at Old Trafford / IMage via

Manchester United have managed to recover from the battering at Stamford Bridge with a significantly improved performance against much-changed Manchester City side.

Juan Mata scored the only goal in the game to give Jose Mourinho plenty of reasons to celebrate and to send his manager a clear message over his position in the team.

Manchester City have continued their winless run as they failed to register a single attempt on goal which last happened back in 2012.

Read our in-depth match report:

Form Guide & Team News

Manchester United headed into the EFL Cup clash against Manchester United on the back of a disappointing 4-0 loss to Chelsea, which was Red Devils’ heaviest away defeat in last 17 years. Jose Mourinho’s tactics and system have endured heavy criticism of late, but the Portuguese tactician has decided against resting his first-team stars for a match against local rivals Manchester City.

Marcos Rojo started the game in the centre of defence replacing injured Bailly, while Juan Mata was given a rare start on the right hand side of the pitch alongside Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, who completed a supporting line to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Citizens are without a win in their last five games in all competitions and despite Guardiola’s men remained top of the Premier League table after the weekend it was an imperative to gain the second successive triumph over the neighbours.

Manchester City boss made a couple of changes to his line-up putting young Iheanacho upfront in the centre of attack ahead of Sergio Aguero who started on the bench, while Leroy Sane was also given a rare start for his club. The biggest surprise in the starting team was perhaps the right back Pablo Maffeo, whose inclusion was a forced choice to great extent due to injuries to Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta.

First Half

Sunday scenario at Stamford Bridge almost repeated for Manchester United after only two minutes in the game against City.

Having fell behind after 30 second to Chelsea, Red Devils nearly conceded (too) early against their local rivals as well with Iheanacho picking up Navas’ superb cross with a header which went over the crossbar.

This opportunity turned out to be the biggest moment of a cagey first half during which both teams failed to make their presence known, much to disappointment of the anticipating crowd.

We have witnessed an interval intercepted by foul play, plenty of misplaced tackles and yellow cards which sadly proved to be the most entertaining moments in the first 45 minutes. The encounter at Old Trafford opened with a rather low-quality play from both sides, despite the calibre of players involved in a tussle.

Hosts tried to get close to breaking the deadlock through Ibrahimovic in the closing stages of the match, but it was young Iheanacho who grabbed the spotlights with a couple of chances of his own, thus giving credit to Guardiola’s decision to start him in front of Sergio Aguero.

Second Half

Both manager had plenty to say to their players at half time and their players have apparently understood the message and emerged from the tunnel determined to make a difference after the interval.

The game gained pace quickly as Manchester United displayed a much braver play against Manchester City, gaining possession and building plays nicely towards Caballero’s goal.

Red Devils could have gotten their necks in front after only five minutes inside the second half. Ibrahimovic worked well to play up Pogba, who fired a great shot towards the bottom corner but Caballero flinged a hand to tip the ball on the post and clear a good effort from the hosts.

United’s pressure paid off five minutes later with Zlatan Ibrahimovic recording his first-ever assist for Manchester United.

The towering Swede was unselfish to slip a ball inside the box to Herrera who decided to allow the pass to run through to Mata, who was composed and secure with a strong finish and even stronger celebration to a goal that clearly meant a great deal to Manchester United midfielder.

Having conceded a goal for the eighth time on the trot, Manchester City decided to try and get back in the game with Pep Guardiola making a couple of changes like introducing the Argentine dynamo Sergio Aguero.

Despite their efforts to close down toward David de Gea’s goal, Manchester City for the most part of the second half failed to prevent Manchester United from winding the clock down. Citizens were pushing and probing but a make-shift backline consisting of Blind and Rojo did a fairly good job on the night for Manchester United.

Untypically for Jose Mourinho and his last couple of defensively-oriented performances, Manchester United continued to push forward despite taking a lead. Red Devils were making a lot of pressure on Manchester City players in the final third of the pitch making Citizens nervous and unable to carry the ball out of their own half.

The game clearly served as clear message from Jose Mourinho who is clearly stating that he is here to stay and that loud criticism will not affect him.

Statistical Overview

  • Four yellow cards were shown in an evenly dominated match at Old Trafford
  • Man City failed to keep a clean sheet in last eight matches
  • Citizens failed to register a single shot on target against Man United
  • Guardiola’s team are winless in last six matches in all competitions
  • Mourinho has now won 4 direct duels against Guardiola in 18 games in total

MAN UNITED: de Gea 6.5 – Valencia 6.5, Blind 7, Rojo 7, Shaw 7 – Carrick 7, Herrera 7.5 – Mata 8 (Schneiderlin 6), Pogba 6.5, Rashford 7 (Lingard 6) – Ibrahimovic 6.5

Unused subs: Darmian, Depay, Fellaini, Romero, Young

MAN CITY: Caballero 6.5 – Maffeo 6.5, Otamendi 6.5, Kompany 5.5 (Kolarov 6), Clichy 6 – Garcia 6.5, Fernando 6, Nolito 6 (Aguero 6) – Navas 7, Iheanacho 6.5, Sane 6 (Sterling 6.5)

Unused subs: Adarabioyo, Gundogan, Gunn, Fernandinho

REFEREE: Mike Dean

Other results this evening

Southampton 1-0 Sunderland

West Ham 2-1 Chelsea


Milos Markovic

Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently and His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.



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