THE Manchester derby ended in a drab stalemate in which missed sitters and moments of madness stole the show at the Etihad.
City should have taken the lead after 10 minutes when Sergio Aguero – of all people – missed a glorious chance from yards out, turning a low Kevin de Bruyne ball onto the post with the goal gaping.
Keep up to date with ALL the Premier League news, gossip, transfers and goals on our club page plus fixtures, results and live match commentary
Claudio Bravo almost did a Claudio Bravo on 27 minutes, inexplicably spilling an harmless Anthony Martial cross into the path of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who had to be thwarted by a sprawling Chilean keeper to make up for his error.
Aguero looked on a one-man mission to make up for his earlier miss, firing a curling 25-yard effort on the half-hour mark towards the corner, forcing David de Gea into a smart save.
And minutes later the Argentine nearly profited from wonderful City build-up play, but shot high and wide – before Aleksandar Kolarov had a low effort saved with United under the cosh.
The Red Devils then missed a sitter of their own on the stroke of half-time, when Ander Herrera headed wide at the far post from a Marcus Rashford free kick when it was easier to score.
In the dullest of second halves, the most notable event happened in the 75th minute when Bravo, actually catching a routine corner, injured what looked like his calf and had to be stretchered off.
Marouane Fellaini then gave Martin Atkinson the easiest red card he will ever give – having been initially booked for something else, the Belgian instantly committed another foul before headbutting Aguero to get sent off.
Gabriel Jesus came on after injury and his first act was to go in late on Marcus Rashford when the United man was clearing his lines, prompting a mini-melee and a booking for the Brazilian.
And the youngster had the ball in the net in added time – but his header from close range was agonisingly ruled out for offside.
But it ended goalless, with City still staying in fourth place one point ahead of their cross-town rivals.
FACTS, STATS, GOALS & LOLS
- This game fell three days before the fifth anniversary of the famous title sh owdown between these two clubs – when Vincent Kompany got the winner. Times have changed.
- Gabriel Jesus was back on the bench for City – just over 10 weeks after breaking a metatarsal. The initial prognosis was two to three months out.
- That being the case, it was perhaps a bad day for the in-form Sergio Aguero to miss a very decent chance early on when his close range shot hit the post.
- The tension was not getting to Jose Mourinho though, he turned round and gave the City fans who were abusing him a little wave.
- Guardiola decided early on that Aleks Kolarov was a centre back – rather than a left full-back. He was back on the flank here though and found it tough going.
- Aguero had 12 goals in his previous 12 games going into this and tried his luck on several occasions – but it just didn’t seem to be happening for him despite having eight goals in 10 Manchester derbies – he normally seems to love playing against the neighbours.
- Mourinho has won only four of his past meeting with Guardiola – – although to be fair one of those was the last one, in October.
- The only Premier League game in which United have faced more shots this season is the reverse fixture in September – when there were 18.
- Claudio Bravo had been a spectator all night – yet when he was called into action for a routine catch he managed to injure his calf and off he went, on a stretcher for some reason.
- Some City fans were calling for Jesus – and they got him….only it was Navas rather than Gabriel Jesus who was the first outfield sub for City on 79 minutes.
- Oh Marouane, you do not help yourself. A a simply horrific minute for Belgian Fellaini – booked for a foul, loses the ball, fouls again and before Martin Atkinson can even think about brandishing a second yellow, he headbutts Aguero for a straight red. What a mare, Mourinho will be fuming.
THE BIG PICTURE
Next Five Fixtures
30 April: Middlesbrough (A), PL
06 May: Crystal Palace (H), PL
13 May: Leicester (H), PL
16 May: West Brom (H), PL
21 May: Watford (A), PL
30 April: Swansea (H), PL
04 May: Celta Vigo (A), Europa
07 May: Arsenal (A), PL
11 May: Celta Vigo (H), Europa
14 May: Tottenham (A), PL
DREAM TEAM RATINGS
Manchester City: Bravo 6 (Caballero 6); Zabaleta 6, Kompany 7, Otamendi 7, Kolarov 7; Fernandinho 6, Touré 7; Sterling 6 (Gabriel Jesus 5), De Bruyne 7, Sane 6 (Jesus Navas 6); Aguero 7
Subs not used: Sagna. Fernando, Gabriel Jesus
Yellow cards: Gabriel Jesus
Manchester United: De Gea 7; Valencia 6, Bailly 7, Blind 7, Darmian 6; Herrera 6, Carrick 6, Fellaini 6; Martial 7 (Lingard 5), Rashford 6 (Young 6), Mkhitaryan 6 (Fosu-Mensah 6)
Subs not used: Romero, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah. Tuanzebe, Young, Lingard, Rooney
Red cards: Fellaini
STAR MAN: KEVIN DE BRUYNE (7)
WHAT THEY SAID
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, speaking to Sky Sports: “We got a point – it’s not so bad but we never felt like the game was difficult or they were a threat.
“It’s happened a lot this season – good games but just not the result. Rashford and Martial have got so much ability and such a bright future ahead.
“They are lightning quick and with a bit more experience can cause a lot more trouble.”
United boss Jose Mourinho to Sky Sports on Marouane Fellaini’s red card for headbutting Sergio Aguero: “I didn’t watch the Fellaini incident on TV but I spoke with Fellaini.
“He thinks it was a red card because he is Fellaini. I spoke to Martin [Atkinson, referee] – he thinks it was a red card.
“I can guess it’s a bit of a red card and a bit of a very smart, very experienced Argentinian player.”