It was a dismal derby day defeat for Manchester United as they lost 6-2 to a brilliant Manchester City, with both Erling Haaland and Phil Foden bagging hat-tricks on Sunday afternoon, much to the dismay of a shell-shocked Erik Ten Hag.
Having won four games on the bounce in the Premier League heading into the clash, United would have wanted to keep things tight and show their quality in moments throughout the game with a view of a draw or a win, but an early booking for Diogo Dalot saw the men in red start to look shaky after the 23-year-old hacked down Jack Grealish.
An opener from Foden in the 8th minute diminished any confidence for the visitors. Eriksen could be seen as guilty for not tracking the run as the Englishman brushed it beyond David De Gea, who himself could have maybe done better.Embed from Getty Images
The Blues continued to dominate the game and it eventually came to further fruition with Haaland bagging a quick-fire double in the 34th and 37th minutes. His first was a towering header that goal-line technology deemed to have crossed the line before Tyrell Malacia cleared away. His second came from an outstretched leg at the back post after a simply marvellous pass from Kevin De Bruyne.
The in-form Norwegian then turned provider in the 44th minute with a pass across goal that was put away by Foden, a strike that rounded off a dismal half of football for the Reds which also saw star defender Raphael Varane go off injured, replaced by Victor Lindelof.
There was another change at the break from Ten Hag, with Luke Shaw on for a yellow-carded Malacia at left-back.Embed from Getty Images
City certainly took their foot off the gas after the break, and Antony capitalised in the 56th minute with a delightful curling effort from around 25 yards to provide the fans who stayed for the second half with something to shout about.
However, it was not long before those same fans had their heads in their hands once more as Haaland completed his hat-trick after he met a Sergio Gomez cross with a sweeping effort in the 64th minute, before Foden completed his own treble not even ten minutes later following a powerful effort from inside the box.Embed from Getty Images
Anthony Martial – on for an incredibly underwhelming Marcus Rashford who had just won Premier League Player of the Month- scored another consolation strike with a poacher’s header after Ederson saved a Fred shot in the 84th minute.
The Frenchman was in on the action again after being hacked down inside the area by Joao Cancelo in stoppage time before tucking away the subsequent penalty in classy style. It has to be said, though, that the three consolation strikes masked what was a horrible, horrible day for the Red Devils at the Etihad Stadium.
Final Score: Manchester City 6-3 Manchester United (Foden 8’, 44’, 72’ Haaland 34’, 37’, 64’) (Antony 56’ Martial 84’, 90+1 [pen])
Man of the matchEmbed from Getty Images
Whilst Haaland and Foden will obviously coup the accolades, Reds fans can still look for the best of a bad bunch on Sunday afternoon.
Anthony Martial certainly gave a good showing for himself whilst he was on the pitch. The Frenchman had been out of action for a while after picking up a hamstring injury, playing just once this season in the league before the derby, but the 26-year-old showed no signs of rustiness with a classic striker’s goal on the rebound and a composed penalty as the game drew to a close.
You could even say that he has a better minutes-to-goal ratio than Haaland across the course of the match…
The bigger pictureEmbed from Getty Images
The defeat is a crippling blow to the red resurgence fans have seen in recent times; to concede six goals on derby day after winning four games on the bounce in the league is disappointing. Some fans will rightfully say that United have been a whole month without Premier League action, yet whilst that is a valid point, it is no excuse for going 6-1 down before the 75th minute, regardless of City’s quality.
Lots of supporters would not have even minded a narrow defeat. Many wanted to see a respectable performance that would give United credibility in the minds of the wider footballing world, but the Reds got absolutely annihilated on a global stage, sadly.
Ten Hag got things wrong for sure. McTominay and Eriksen were completely overrun in the midfield which meant the defence were outnumbered with too many runners to track. Casemiro would have been a wiser shout in hindsight. Also, the league now allows five substitutions, but Ten Hag has seemed very reluctant to change things up when his team have got outplayed in the first half against Brentford and Man City. Perhaps that is an area for improvement for the boss.
The result leaves United 6th on 12 points, with Chelsea (5th on 13 points) and Brighton (4th on 14 points) nearest ahead.
If anything, the loss comes as a reality check and a reminder of the rollercoaster that is ahead. It will not always be sunshine and rainbows- there will be defeats, and that is expected. The 4-0 demolition jobs come half-time cannot keep happening, though. There is a standard at Manchester United and it certainly is not that.
Next up for Ten Hag and United is Omonia Nicosia in the UEFA Europa League at 17:45 (BST) this coming Thursday, which is the 6th October.
It is then another away day at Goodison Park on Sunday, with United taking on Everton in the Premier League at 19:00 (BST) that day.