Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his side looked like the old Manchester United as they inflicted a damaging derby defeat on champions Manchester City.
United boss Solskjaer hailed the best performance of his reign as first-half goals from Marcus Rashford, from the penalty spot, and Anthony Martial set up a 2-1 Premier League win at the Etihad Stadium.
It was a thrilling encounter, although the game was marred by crowd problems including an alleged racial gesture from a City supporter towards a United player and the throwing of missiles.
Can’t beat a derby win. Stood up to EVERYTHING thrown at us & got what we deserved.
Manchester = 🔴 pic.twitter.com/al5nnmkCd3
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) December 7, 2019
While City were left to rue a defeat that left them 14 points behind leaders Liverpool, it was a result that breathed further life into United’s campaign after their midweek victory over Tottenham.
Asked if it was the best his side had played, Solskjaer said: “If you consider who we were playing against and where we were playing them, yes, I think so.
“We were playing against a team with some top players and they’re going create chances against any team, but we did our best to make this an entertaining game because the chances we created were massive.
“I was so happy with the way we started the game. The way we created big chances, we looked like we’d score every time we had the ball.
“The intent was there to go forward, it was not about keeping it or slowing it down, we’d go for the goal, go for the kill.
“We should have had three or four up but, then again, we were playing against the best team in the world, so you have to defend well because they are so good. I’m very pleased with how our boys dealt with everything.”
Both of United’s goals came in the first half during a spell of counter-attacking football that also saw Rashford shoot wide when well placed and hit the bar. Ederson was also forced to make a number of saves.
UNITED! ❤️🔴🔥 pic.twitter.com/B4kMFRWQ1k
— Daniel James (@Daniel_James_97) December 7, 2019
City boss Pep Guardiola claimed his side’s approach was no different than normal but on this occasion they were punished by a clinical United.
He said: “I like my team, how they played. We conceded a little bit more than usual but we knew the pace they have with (Daniel) James, Martial and Rashford.
“Sometimes it is not possible to control it because when you lose the ball it is difficult.
“In general we did what we liked, we arrived in the final third many times. Unfortunately we cannot finish a little bit more but I like to watch my team like this.
“We conceded four or five counter-attacks, that’s all. I think all the teams know it happens.
“Normally we are able to control it but today we struggled a little but in the first half. Sometimes this can happen, especially for the quality of the opponents.”
With Liverpool beating Bournemouth earlier in the day, City’s hopes of winning a third successive title are receding rapidly.
Guardiola said: “If we were only five points behind, 10 points, 14, 20 – we would have to continue.
“I have said many times in the last weeks we have to continue. If we are not able we are going to try next season.”