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Manchester United were consigned to their worst Barclays Premier League start in nine years as they suffered a 4-1 defeat to Manchester City.
Manuel Pellegrini was an emphatic winner in the battle of the Manchester derby debutants in the dugout on Sunday, as his side ruthlessly took apart David Moyes' reigning champions at the Etihad Stadium.
Sergio Aguero opened the scoring in impressive fashion with a volley early in the first half, before Yaya Toure forced the ball over the line just before the break to put City firmly in the ascendency.
And, after another well-taken goal from Aguero – his fifth in six derby appearances – Samir Nasri completed the rout with 50 minutes gone as he sent a side-footed effort past the helpless David de Gea.
A late consolation goal from Wayne Rooney, which came courtesy of a brilliant free-kick, will have done little to lighten the mood among the United camp ahead of a midweek League Cup clash with fierce rivals Liverpool.
The absence of Robin van Persie from the visitors' squad made headlines, with the prolific Dutchman omitted with a groin strain. And, although United were boosted by the return of Danny Welbeck, they were faced with the unenviable task of keeping an opposition pairing of Alvaro Negredo and Aguero quiet at the other end.
Their chances of doing so appeared slim in the opening exchanges, as City began with impressive fluency despite the frenetic nature of the occasion.They were rewarded for their endeavour after just 16 minutes when Aguero opened the scoring with a fabulous left-footed finish from inside the box. The Argentinian had plenty of work still to do after Aleksandar Kolarov had picked up the ball from Nasri on the overlap before crossing, but he controlled his volley beautifully to give the hosts the lead.
United’s hopes of taking anything from the game were severely dented on the stroke of half-time, as Negredo rose highest to flick on a corner and the unmarked Toure reacted quickly to divert the ball in off his knee from close range.
Moyes could at least take solace from the fact that the interval offered an opportunity to disrupt City's dominance, but just two minutes into the second half the hosts grabbed a third. Negredo was the provider again, the Spaniard holding up the ball brilliantly under the attentions of Nemanja Vidic in the box before turning and teeing up Aguero for a close-range volley he could hardly miss.
City fans already in dreamland saw their day get even better just three minutes later, as Kompany's rampaging run from the back ended in a lofted cross that Nasri emphatically turned home at the back post.
The hosts were happy to concede possession to United and attack on the counter given the size of their lead, but a long-distance effort from Marouane Fellaini, which Joe Hart easily kept out, was the best the visitors could muster despite controlling the ball for long periods.
United's day was perhaps best summed up by a flurry of activity in the opposition goalmouth that saw Patrice Evra hit the post and Rooney somehow denied by the legs of Hart when his well-struck effort from inside the box looked bound for the back of the net.
The former Everton striker would get his goal eventually, however, curling in brilliantly from a set-piece to add some respectability to the scoreline for the visitors and take his personal tally in Manchester derbies to a record 11 goals.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: "It was a very important result. Normally you don't expect to win 4-1 to Manchester United but the most important thing is the way we played and I'm very happy.
"Normally, derbies are more equal but today we had a very good day and that allowed us to have the superiority. Maybe [United] couldn't play better because we played very well. We had good possession, we tried from the beginning to make space and we did it. I also think that in defence we played well, we didn't give them space to do damage."
"I would be very happy if we win all the games 4-1, we wouldn't need to improve! But I think we must improve every day. Not every game is the same, we don't have the same day. We are just starting another style, another way to play, and I hope we will improve."
Manchester United manager David Moyes: "We didn't play well; they were better. They started much stronger and much quicker than us, but we'll get better – it's a long season to go. We'll put this behind us and move on.
"I thought Manchester City were very good. We weren't, but City started the game really well. We really could have done with coming in at half-time 1-0 – losing the second goal just before half-time changes it a little bit. Nevertheless, they came out strong again in the second half.
"I think they got a grip of the game very early on, and we didn't. We never really got to grips with their midfield players in the early part of the game.Because of that, they started to get domination. We had to be stronger, but we weren't. But great credit to the lads that they kept going, kept working away and got a goal back. Whatever manager loses the game, you try and win the next one – nothing changes."
"I would say Wayne Rooney's performance today was outstanding. He certainly didn't deserve to be on the losing team; he was first class."
|25 Mar 2014||v Man Utd (A)|
|05 Oct 2013||v Everton (H)|
|26 Dec 2013||v Liverpool (H)|
|03 Feb 2014||v Chelsea (H)|
|12 Jan 2014||v Newcastle (A)|
|02 Nov 2013||v Norwich (H)|