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Manchester United attempted to imitate their heroic Paris-Saint Germain comeback from last year when they visited Manchester City in their Carabao Cup 2nd Leg encounter, having lost the first one 1-3 at Old Trafford. They won the game 1-0, but ended up losing the tie by the slightest of margins. David De Gea’s heroics saved the Red Devils from going behind early on and that rejuvenated the side.
United took the lead in the 35th minute when Nemanja Matic’s emphatic strike blasted into the net, making it 2-3 on aggregate. The hosts just couldn’t seem to score legal goals and encouraged the Red Devils to force penalty-shootouts but they were unable to get beyond that one goal.
City’s consecutive goal-scoring record is broken and while United will be gutted not to get the win, they’ll be pleased to have outwitted their rivals once again at their own yard.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (7.0) –
To Ole’s credit, he did everything possible to get out a positive result which whatever at his disposal. Of course, United were a bit fortunate at times, but OGS’ set-up his backline to be an absolute unpenetrable wall today. Unfortunately, his side weren’t as clinical in their counter-attacks as the last time they visited the Etihad.
Maybe he should’ve started Dan James instead of Greenwood to trouble City’s wobbly backline more often. Still Ole managed to outwit Guardiola and end his side’s dominant form once again.
David de Gea (7.0) –
DDG was forced into action early on, but made a few stunning reflex stops before the 10th minute. Denies Aguero with a stunning one-handed stop in the 16th. Saved Lindelof from embarrassment by beating Aguero to the punch when he went through on goal just before half-time. Keeps out Walker’s piledriver with a strong parry in the 71st.
Bit lucky to see Sterling & Aguero’s goals being disallowed, but De Gea deserved his clean-sheet after those brilliant saves.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (6.0)-
Wan-Bissaka looks eager to romp forward in the swift-breaks. Makes a surging run in the 14th, but unable to deliver the final product. While defensively not as incredible as he was last month at the Etihad, he still kept Sterling relatively quiet and clamped him down with vicious tackles. Still bit lacking in possession and offered very little heading forward.
Harry Maguire (7.0) –
Played with fire bringing down Sterling inside the box in the 9th minute but lucky to see it ignored. Redeems that with a goal-saving tackle on him in the 30th. Just couldn’t keep his powerful header on target in the 49th. Almost shot himself by giving away possession INSIDE his own penalty area, but redeemed himself with a clutch block to stop City from scoring seconds after.
But overall, he was rock-solid at the back. Thwarted crosses with confidence, made strong challenges and marshalled his troops superbly. Tried inspiring a goal late on, even winning a crucial free-kick, but unable to win the tie.
Victor Lindelof (6.5) –
Lindelof looks the most composed figure in United’s backline today, making decisive clearances early on. He almost undid his own good work with an awful backpass to allow Aguero through, but lucky to see it cleared. Lost all track of Sterling allowing him to blaze through on goal in the 58th, but fortunately, he botched his chance.
But Lindelof was confident with his work, making crucial challenges to fend away trouble and moving the ball forward pretty well for his side.
Luke Shaw (6.5) –
Yet again playing in the role as he did at Anfield. Being outwitted at times by City’s quick-passing style. But he did cover for Williams very well, keeping out threat through his side. Made a few important last-ditch challenges to stop his opposition on their tracks and thwart away danger.
Brandon Williams (6.5)–
The gritty young defender has a tough task facing Riyad Mahrez today. Making blazing forward runs, but indecisive in the final third. However, his composure on the ball was impressive to see and he worked his socks off right till the end. Defensively dogged but ousted on a few occasions.
Fred (7.0) –
Fred’s maintained his hard-working regime, chipping into City players with a few crunching tackles in the first half-hour. His 35th-minute set-piece was dangerous, leading to Matic’s wonder goal. Again puts in a sumptuous set-piece after half-time. Fred was a livewire in midfield, pressing City cleverly and winning back the ball in the right areas.
He maintained his cool under pressure and inspired United forward on counter-attacks, only to see them mostly wasted. Another pretty good day at the office for the ever-improving Brazilian.
Nemanja Matic (6.5) –
Matic is asserting himself really well in a crowded midfield, making a few fancy interceptions early on. Proves he still has that vicious strike in him, scoring an inch-perfect volley to score his first this season. He turned back the years for a while, bossing the midfield, bullying the opposition and winning back the ball.
But his overaggressiveness cost him as he was booked twice for cynical fouls in the second half and sent off in the 76th minute to sum up a very topsy-turvy performance.
Jesse Lingard (5.5) –
Doing a lot of running in the initial stages. He nutmegged BOTH Kyle Walker & Rodri leading to the set-piece causing the opener. Lingard worked tirelessly and made some clever movement, but again lacked productivity in the final third.
Mason Greenwood (5.0) –
Greenwood is being crowded out by the experienced defenders, but trying to link together whatever move possible. Couldn’t offer a whole lot of goal-scoring threat and had very few touches. Subbed at half-time.
Anthony Martial (5.5) –
Martial needs to work harder to influence his side’s attack. Made some incisive runs in the first half, but nobody could find them. Struck a weak left-footed drive straight at Bravo in the 54th. Moved deeper into midfield to create stuff but unable to do so with conviction. Not as efficient as he should’ve been in testing Bravo either.
Daniel James (6.0) –
James’ brought more width to his side, using his electric runs to unsettle City. He did put in a few inviting crosses, only to see them float over.
Andreas Pereira (5.0) –
Pereira added an extra body in midfield, but unable to put his creativity to good use. Did nothing noteworthy in a quiet cameo.
Juan Mata (N/R) –
Mata barely had a few promising touches of the ball, being unable to create anything. Should’ve taken that late free-kick from outside the area.
Matic was having an amazing game before his sending-off. I would’ve given him the MOTM if he didn’t see a red-card, so I’ll give this one to Maguire for remaining strong and inspiring his side to a rare clean-sheet against a fully strengthened City side at home.