Manchester United beat rivals City as reigning champions fall 14 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool

Marcus Rashford scored once again to helped Manchester United beat their rivals. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)

Manchester United continued their good week by beating fierce neighbours City 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

After helping defeat Tottenham on Wednesday, Marcus Rashford opened the scoring from the penalty spot after being fouled by Bernardo Silva - a foul spotted by VAR.

Anthony Martial added a second before half time as Nicolas Otamendi’s late strike gave Pep Guardiola’s men hope.

The result, United’s second win in a week, condemned reigning champions City to a 14-point deficit from league leaders Liverpool.

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Daniel James played a pivotal role in running City's defence ragged. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

United signalled their intent early when Daniel James forced Ederson into a save inside two minutes.

That seemed to spark their city rivals into action, with a stifled appeal for a Scott McTominay handball as the hosts swarmed the opposing penalty area.

As the Old Trafford side displayed their willingness to sit back and counter, it proved one of the most open and end-to-end matches in recent memory.

But the hosts might have scored when Raheem Sterling burst into the box and pulled the ball back for David Silva - only for the Spaniard’s shot to be blocked from close range.

At the other end once more, Jesse Lingard might have given the hosts the lead when he was played into the box - but his shot towards the far post was toed away by Ederson.

In the 13th minute, the hosts were again calling for a spot kick when Bernardo Silva picked out Gabriel Jesus, whose shot was blocked. The Brazilian forward’s effort skipped off the turf and hit Victor Lindelof’s arm, but was not deemed a punishable offence.

City pushed forward but it was United who threatened to open the scoring - with Ederson forced into another fine save, this time from Anthony Martial.

And on 20 minutes, England striker Rashford was obstructed by Bernardo. Eventually, the incident was reviewed by the video assistant referee and the spot-kick awarded.

Rashford, fresh from two goals in midweek against Tottenham, coolly dispatched the penalty to hand the visitors the lead.

Five minutes later, they should have had a second. United, lethal as ever on the break, saw Fred slide the ball across to Rashford who, attempting a first-time shot, bent an effort wide of the far post.

Not long after that the striker, with 10 Premier League goals to his name this season, hit the crossbar after calmly stopping the ball dead and flicking his boot at the ball.

The Red Devils looked the most threatening team throughout the opening half and they finally took another chance when Martial played a one-two with James before his weak left-footed effort crept in off the near post.

Anthony Martial bagged a second on the counter attack. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Red Devils entered the game fresh from beating Tottenham in midweek. (Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

City were visibly shaken, not least by the fact they were two goals down to their fiercest rivals. It did not help that Liverpool had earlier moved almost five wins clear of them.

David Silva struck a strong effort at David de Gea, but it was Jesus who should have reduced the deficit on 33 minutes.

The Brazilian flung himself at a trademark Kevin de Bruyne cross but contrived to head wide of the post.

Silva, desperate to keep his side in the match, saw a free kick saved by his compatriot in goal before he failed to properly connect with a lobbed cross to the far post, with De Gea seemingly beaten.

Just after the hour mark, as the pattern of play largely continued, Sterling won the ball from a stray Lindelof pass, cut inside the box and seemed destined to reduce arrears - before Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s tackle at the last.

But Otamendi's late header left the visitors clinging on. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

De Gea, though, had to be at his best as City started to pick up momentum. Rodri, having been rolled the ball by De Bruyne, unleashed a rocket which the Spaniard tipped over the bar.

Riyad Mahrez, on as a second half substitute, almost bundled home shortly after, sliding a deflected Sterling cross just wide at the far post.

Unsavoury scenes took place as the game headed towards its final quarter, with United midfielder Fred the subject of a number of missiles thrown by the home fans when going to take a corner.

It required the City players to plead with the crowd to stop, as play temporarily stopped.

Lingard almost flicked home a third in the final ten minutes, but Otamendi had gave the hosts hope in the 85th minute when he converted from a deep corner.

Barely 60 seconds later, De Gea had to stay strong to keep out Mahrez’s low left-footed strike as the hosts attacked with renewed vigour.

The home side bombarded forward but United’s defence held firm - despite Ilkay Gundogan almost scrambling home a last-gasp leveller - to earn Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a second big scalp in four days.

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