Verdict: Manchester United 1 Manchester City 6
Goals: Balotelli 22, 59 Aguero 68 Dzeko 89, 90+2 Silva 90 for City. Fletcher 80 for United.
“Why always me?” Why not when it’s this good. Mario Balotelli opened up an initially subdued derby with a controlled stroke of the ball, raised his shirt and set City on course for an even greater victory than the 5-1 of 1989.
Mario’s next significant act was to accelerate past Johnny Evans, who foolishly got himself sent off for trying to pull back the Italian. That moment opened up space in the United half and David Silva needed no further invitation to take the game to another level.
The running and skill of James Milner provided the Spaniard with the perfect accomplice to dismantle United’s defence.
It was a sharp contrast to United’s use of possession in the opening period. As always United had sought to use the flanks, yet Richards rose to the challenge of Young while Clichy rendered Nani anonymous. Ably assisted by the midfield the City defence snuffed out the wide threat.
Through the middle there was no creative spark capable of disturbing Yaya or Barry. In recent derbies it’s often been overlooked just how well Kompany does against Rooney. Once again the captain was excellent and Lescott showed he’s no weak link, dealing comfortably with any balls into the penalty area.
This solidity was the foundation on which victory was built.
In the opening period City rarely committed numbers to attack, yet the incisiveness of our movement still posed the greater threat. Silva was elusive, Milner roaming free, Richards and Clichy providing width.
The half ended with City one goal to the good. In the Community Shield we had been two up, so there were still concerns, yet Mancini’s side has since proved themselves ruthless in the second period of games and so it proved again.
Whether the sending off changed the outcome is doubtful, but it certainly made for a more comfortable second half. City’s passing started to click and United’s defence were chasing shadows.
First Silva, Richards and Milner combined to open up the left flank for Balotelli to bag his second. Richards then repeated the trick for Aguero to demonstrate his predatory instincts.
The two goalscorers departed and United made what proved to be a mistake by scoring themselves. The home crowd sensed the chance of a comeback and players were committed forward. This simply opened the door to an astonishing finale.
A gift of a corner saw United’s defence go AWOL as Lescott returned a Barry flick-on for Dzeko to score. Silva then ran clear to make it five before Dzeko spurned one chance then took another with defenders trailing in his wake. The collapse of the United back line was astonishing with Silva given complete freedom.
City have now scored 25 times in the second half of Premier League games and just 8 during the first half. It shows our patience, then ruthlessness once we do get on top – traits which characterise the manager.
Mancini was quick to downplay the scoreline afterwards and it’s true that United have gone on to win titles in the past after heavy defeats. Yet the magnitude of the victory cannot be ignored. United’s own stats of winning every league home game this season, having only dropped two points last season, testify to the achievement.
There is also the sight of City at the top of the Premier League table, clear by five points thanks to Chelsea also losing. Staying there is what matters to Mancini. Yet for City fans, whatever happens, this is a victory to be celebrated for a long time to come.