The score might have been 0-0, but it was an enthralling game at the Etihad, as both sides had to settle for a point
THE point for Manchester City and rivals United tonight means both sides face a battle for a top-four finish in the Premier League.
But while City pressed for the full 90 to carve out an opening, United seemed happy to grab an away point.
The game really livened up in the last five minutes, when Marouane Fellaini saw red for headbutting Sergio Aguero, but United managed to hold on for what they look to have come for.
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Here are five things we learnt.
Marouane Fellaini is a liability
This may be pointing out the obvious after his mad 20 seconds that resulted in the Belgian being sent-off for a headbutt on Sergio Aguero.
His side were trying desperately to repel attack after attack, and playing the role of the enforcer in the middle, it was the last thing his boss Jose Mourinho needed.
But in the 85th minute, Fellaini completely lost his head. He had just been booked, and was looking like collecting a second yellow just 20 seconds later.
Then he headbutted Aguero, and the referee had an easy decision to make – a straight red.
His football isn’t the greatest, his discipline clearly not what a top Premier League side need. It’s time to ship out the ex-Everton man.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is CLEARLY missed
The talk pre-game was how Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s loss through injury wouldn’t be felt because of the emergence of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Sure, Martial had a fine game last time out as United beat Burnley 2-0 away, but the influential Swede was ALWAYS going to be a huge loss.
Toni8ght, when United needed to ease some of the pressure, the ball kept coming back at them. There was no presence up front to unduly worry City’s centre-halves.
There’s no doubting Rashford and Martial had the pace to worry Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi. But without the unpredictability of Zlatan, United were clearly lacking.
Man United were pleased to bag a point
They have have gone with the attacking trio of Rashford, Martial and Mkhitaryan, but it was clear, especially in the second half, that United were happy with a point at the Etihad.
Maybe they believe, at just a point behind City, they can overtake them for fourth in the remaining games.
But either way, it was often a case of defence vs attack tonight, with Rashford providing United’s only out-ball on the counter. And even then he had no support whatsoever.
Raheem Sterling’s form has reversed
Admittedly, the former Liverpool man didn’t see enough of the ball, which is strange considering the second half was defence vs attack.
But when he did get the ball, he was often running into a blind alley, or looking to attract that lazy challenge that could lead to a free-kick or penalty.
Sterling was said to be low on confidence at the start of the season, but Pep Guardiola seemed to have gradually got the best out of the winger.
But now, whether it’s tiredness or City relying on using Leroy Sane as the support for Sergio Aguero, Sterling was often a passenger.
Footballers need to toughen up
Manchester City keeper Claudio Bravo fell to the ground in the 78th minute. He had apparently picked up an injury catching the ball.
Many Manchester City fans seemed happy at the thought of Willy Caballero coming on in his place.
But it was the sight of the Spanish keeper getting strapped into a stretcher and taken off the pitch that was the most telling.
Just a day after Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez was slammed for his theatrical reaction after a ball hit him in the shoulder, the sight of Bravo going off had commentator Gary Neville in uproar.
“Please no, please no, he’s not getting a stretcher for a calf strain!”
Yes, Gary, that was exactly what he was getting.