MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City kept the destination of the Premier League title in its own hands by beating Manchester United 2-0 on Wednesday to climb back above Liverpool with three games left this season.
United slumped to a seventh loss in its last nine matches under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thanks to strikes in a 12-minute span from Bernardo Silva and substitute Leroy Sane, with United goalkeeper David De Gea partially at fault for both goals.
Bernardo Silva cut inside and shot inside De Gea’s near post in the 54th minute, with the goalkeeper slow to get down to his left.
De Gea then failed to keep out with his legs a low shot from Sane at the end of sweeping counterattack led by Raheem Sterling.
City moved one point ahead of Liverpool and will become the first team to retain the Premier League title since Manchester United in 2009 if the team wins its last three games — against Burnley, Leicester and Brighton. Liverpool’s last three games are against Huddersfield, Newcastle and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Pep Guardiola’s side cannot reach the milestone of 100 points like last season but it continues to break records. Sane’s strike meant City has 157 goals in all competitions for the season, beating the English record for a single top-flight campaign that the team held from the pre-Guardiola era in 2013-14.
United was well beaten in the end, like it was in a 4-0 loss at Everton on Sunday, but can at least take solace from Arsenal’s 3-1 loss at Wolves on Wednesday. In the four-team fight for the top-four finish to get into next season’s Champions League, United stayed in sixth place, two points behind Arsenal, three behind Chelsea and six adrift of third-place Tottenham.
United plays Chelsea on Sunday, when City visits Burnley.
There was plenty of pre-match talk about United fans being in a quandary over who to support in this derby, with Liverpool — historically its biggest rival — set to benefit from any slip-up from City.
But there was no doubting who the home supporters inside Old Trafford were behind, with every tackle and attack by United vociferously cheered.
There was early danger for City, too, as captain Vincent Kompany struggled to deal with United’s counterattacks and got booked after 10 minutes for blocking off Marcus Rashford. Jesse Lingard then volleyed wide off Paul Pogba’s deep pass.
Solskjaer had begun the match with a five-man defense — Matteo Darmian was making his first start under the Norwegian in an unfamiliar center-back role — and it quickly became a case of United soaking up City’s attacks and attempting to hit on the break.
Only in the final few minutes of the first half did City find some rhythm and Sterling missed the first great chance when he got on the end of a passing move, drifted past Chris Smalling and shot weakly at De Gea.
Fernandinho was forced off with a leg injury early in the second half, seemingly picked up after tackling Pogba, and that brought Bernardo Silva into a central role as winger Leroy Sane came on as a substitute.
Moments later, Bernardo collected a pass from Ilkay Gundogan, drifted inside and took an early shot that crept inside the near post.
If De Gea was perhaps culpable for that goal, he certainly could have done much better for Sane’s 66th-minute effort that was powerfully struck but virtually straight at the Spain goalkeeper. The ball glanced off De Gea’s legs and into the back of the net.
City has bounced back from its agonizing Champions League elimination by Tottenham last week with successive wins over Spurs and United, taking the team’s run of league victories to 11.
Source: FOX Sport