Manchester City defeated Manchester United 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday as Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez each scored twice in the derby win.
Ralf Rangnick’s team fought back well during the first half, falling behind 2-1 at the break, but City showed their quality after the break, and they looked increasingly demoralised.
Liverpool have 63 points from one game fewer than City with 69 points from 28 games. Manchester United have fallen to fifth place, a point adrift of Arsenal, who beat Watford on Sunday and have three games remaining.
De Bruyne made an outstanding contribution, running the game from midfield and then presenting a threat in the box.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani were both injured, so Rangnick opted to play Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes up front.
After overloading the left side, De Bruyne slotted in a low pull-back pass from Bernardo Silva to open the scoring in the fifth minute.
United leveled through a superb curling shot from Jadon Sancho, who took his time, cut inside after a quick break and then beat Ederson with his confident strike.
The Belgian striker restored City’s lead after Phil Foden had seen David De Gea parry his shot following a run into the box.
It was City who dominated after the break and made it 3-1 when De Bruyne struck a corner deep to the edge of the box, and Mahrez shot first-time that took a slight deflection off Harry Maguire.
Mahrez sealed the victory with a goal that was initially ruled offside but VAR determined that Alex Telles had played the Algerian onside before he pounced on an Ilkay Gundogan pass and rocketed into the net off the shoulder of De Gea.
Pep Guardiola was full of praise for his team after the win, which reflected City’s dominance.
“It was excellent from the first minute. We played really well and had to be patient in the first step,” said the Spaniard.
“Football is emotions. It’s tactics, definitely, but it’s also emotions. Without the ball, we are a team with desire and passion to regain the ball from the first minute to the 90th,” he added.
Rangnick believed that his tactics had been the right thing to do against City before the gulf in class became apparent.
“It was working. For us, it was clear if we want a chance to win the game we have to do a lot of running. You have to be in attacking and hunting mode and we did that in the first half. The third goal killed us off in the end,” he said. “It’s difficult, if we attack them very high there is a lot of negative running you need to do. The third goal is a brilliantly taken corner and it is almost impossible to defend that. The second half they were the better team and they showed the quality they have. We struggled especially after they scored the third one.”
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