|Bruno Fernandes celebrates after his controversial leveler on Saturday at Old Trafford. United beat City 2-1. (Photo credit: Sky Sports)|
Lines fell in pleasant places for Manchester United on Saturday at Old Trafford, albeit with clouds unsettled around a VAR decision to allow Bruno Fernandes’ goal that leveled matters before Marcus Rashford powered home the winner late on.
Manchester City reverted to normal business with the starting lineup; Phil Foden, Joao Cancelo and Riyad Mahrez all returned to the fold while Manchester United handed Fred a special role of man-marking Kevin De Bruyne – a job he stuck to perfectly until it was time for goal to surface.
Rashford was the closest to a breakthrough in the first half as City dominated without real penetrations to hurt the hosts. Ederson in goal for the Red Devils mistimed his rush and Rashford danced round him but met Swiss defender Manuel Akanji in goal.
The second half would prove dramatic; Erik Ten Hag yanked off Anthony Martial at halftime and replaced him with Brazilian showman Antony while Pep Guardiola removed Foden before the hour mark and sent on Jack Grealish.
The latter proved to be a master stroke as De Bruyne broke free from Fred for the first time in the game, dashed to the byline and crossed in for Grealish to nod home. That goal took City to just within two points of Arsenal.
United weren’t going to settle but their equalizer came with some controversies. Casemiro sent on a through pass to Rashford in the 78th minute, the England striker attempted to play the ball but realized he was offside and left it for Fernandes to fire home.
The offside flag went up and United players circled the referee. Consultations between Start Attwell and the VAR reversed the decision and the goal stood. Four minutes later, wonderkid Alejandro Garnacho raced to the byline and cut back for Rashford to tap home.
Rashford has now scored in nine straight home games and his rich vein of form helped United to close the gap on Manchester City to just one point and the Red Devils, now in third can begin to throw their hats into the title conversations.