Manchester City returned to their ominous best with a one-sided derby win over city rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
The 3-0 victory was the treble winners’ third in eight days, but before that City had suffered three defeats in four games.
However, their worries paled into insignificance compared to their near neighbors, with the gap between the two teams on full display here.
Erling Harland scored twice – the first from a penalty and the second from a beautiful Bernardo Silva cross – and then ensured the scoreline was correct with an assist for Manchester-born Phil Foden.
The win closes the gap between Pep Guardiola’s side and leaders Tottenham Hotspur to two points with 10 games to go before the end of the season.
Silva, who was named man of the match, said: “It was a great game for us. We didn’t give them too many chances to fight back, except for a few simple goals. We played well for the first 30 minutes of the second half. The way we pressed was what we lacked against Arsenal and we were great.
“When we come to places like Anfield and Old Trafford, we know what teams are waiting for – waiting for us to concede the ball and then fight back. What we have to do is build up an advantage, not concede simple balls, control the game and slow down in the first few meters of the half and when we shoot. The next step is to break through the offense. It’s never easy to come here and beat this team.
“This is definitely one of the best wins. To win 3-0 away from home in front of such a big crowd, I think it’s definitely one of the best performances.
United made three changes to the team that beat Copenhagen in midweek. Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans came on for Raphael Varane and Sergio Regillon, while Christian Eriksen, who came on as a substitute against Denmark, came on in place of Christian Eriksen. came on as a substitute against Denmark, replacing Anthony in a reshuffled midfield.
Meanwhile, Guardiola has completely reshuffled his line-up against the youth teams, rearranging it to look more like his strongest line-up. This meant Foden, Silva, Josco Guardiola, John Stones, Julian Alvarez and Kyle Walker all started.
United started the game in some spirit but the visitors had the upper hand by the 20th minute but were soon in trouble when a penalty was awarded after Rasmus Hoylund pulled Rodney back from an attacking move.
Hoylund had a chance to redeem himself when he met Foden’s free-kick cross but failed to shoot under pressure from the returning Stones.
Scott McTominay tested the Brazilian keeper with a half-volley from the edge of the box.
Almost simultaneously, at the other end, Andre Onana outpaced Ederson as he darted through the defense to repel a powerful header from Harland.
City fans needn’t have worried, however, as they created a chance early in the second half, this time with Harland parrying Silva’s cross.
In a testament to their local dominance, City’s leading homegrown player was awarded a third place finish.
Rodney released Harland and the Norwegian striker scored a hat-trick, unselfishly bringing home Foden to leave hosts United in a state of frustration and disappointment.