Pep Guardiola enjoyed victory over his old nemesis Jose Mourinho as his Manchester City side won 2-1 at Manchester United in yesterday’s eagerly anticipated derby at Old Trafford.
First-half goals by Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho put City in control and despite new goalkeeper Claudio Bravo’s gaffe allowing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to hit back for United, City held firm. It was the first encounter between Guardiola and Mourinho, former El Clasico sparring partners since 2013, and gave the former Barcelona coach an eighth win in 17 clashes with the ex-Real Madrid manager.
“We are happy. I think the spectators enjoyed it because it was open until the end,” Guardiola told the BBC.
“First half we were better. In the second half it was difficult. We had counter-attacks and we didn’t finish.”
City’s win, their 50th in competitive derby matches, saw them end United’s perfect start to the season.
It left Guardiola’s side and Chelsea, who visit Swansea City today, as the only teams in the Premier League with 100 % records. Mourinho was angered by referee Mark Clattenburg’s decision not to award the home side a penalty after Bravo committed a wild challenge on Wayne Rooney inside the City area.
“Claudio Bravo is a penalty and a red card,” he said.
Mourinho withdrew full debutant Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard at half-time and strongly criticised some of his players’ performances.
“In the first half we were below the level to play this match,” he said.
“We lost easy balls and let them recover the ball. We paid for our mistakes.”Mourinho’s decision to start Mkhitaryan and Lingard in place of Anthony Martial and Juan Mata was a surprise and it backfired as City took a deserved 15th-minute lead. Aleksandar Kolarov’s high ball was flicked on by Iheanacho — in for the suspended Sergio Aguero — and De Bruyne beat Daley Blind to the ball before clinically wrong-footing David de Gea.
United had barely had a kick and Rooney’s frustration showed as he grappled with Guardiola for the ball at a throw-in before catching Fernandinho late. There was worse to come for the United skipper as City made it 2-0, Iheanacho tapping in from six yards after De Bruyne’s low curler struck the base of the left-hand post.
Mourinho wore a face of thunder on the touchline, but Bravo gifted his side a lifeline three minutes before half-time.
The Chilean allowed Rooney’s deep free-kick to slip from his grasp and Ibrahimovic produced an athletic volley to spear the loose ball into the net.
It was an unexpected foothold for the hosts and they finished the first half strongly.
Rooney crossed for Ibrahimovic to head at Bravo and the Swedish striker then saw an effort blocked by John Stones after the City goalkeeper failed to field a stray ball.
Mourinho repaired his error at half-time, introducing Ander Herrera and terrace darling Marcus Rashford for Mkhitaryan and Lingard.
Bravo’s jitteriness gave the home fans renewed belief and he was extremely fortunate to avoid conceding a penalty in the 56th minute.In turning away from Ibrahimovic, he overran the ball and launched himself into a lunging challenge on Rooney. Rooney was left writhing in pain, but Clattenburg waved play on, apparently deeming Bravo to have won the ball cleanly.
Guardiola responded to Mourinho’s changes by bolstering his own midfield, with Fernando and debutant Leroy Sane coming on and De Bruyne taking up a central forward role.
A beautifully poised game swung from end to end thereafter.
United had a goal disallowed when Rashford’s shot clipped Ibrahimovic, who was standing in an offside position, and beat Bravo.
Manchester United’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho (L) and Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (R) watch from the touchline during the EPL clash between the two teams at Old Trafford in Manchester yesterday.