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  • Writer's pictureBruno Asoka

Rashford paints Manchester Red

Pep Guardiola’s 500th top-flight game as a manager ended in a dramatic Manchester derby defeat as Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford turned the match on its head after Jack Grealish opener’s at Old Trafford, meaning the Red Devils are now only a point behind their bitter rivals, who remain five points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal.

Guardiola was eager to see a comeback from his squad after their disastrous Carabao Cup loss to Southampton in the middle of the week, and this was one of Manchester United's greatest chances to defeat their neighbors while he was in charge. Right after the game started, it picked up a respectable pace. The hosts launched an attack as a result of Bernando Silva's careless pass, but fellow countryman Fernandes' shot missed the target.

Before this game, Kevin De Bruyne hadn't scored or assisted in the Premier League since October 29, so Fred was doing an excellent job of keeping him in check, and the Belgian was finding it difficult to make an early impact. Before Ederson experienced a heart-in-mouth moment as he ran out to meet Rashford and the striker rounded the Brazilian, Manuel Akanji made a crucial save on the line. Erling Haaland's first shot in fury from the edge of the box was blocked with 25 minutes played.

Rashford was then put through again, but Ederson smothered effectively as the 25-year-old bore down on goal. However, the England international was soon in pain after appearing to pull up injured, but soldiered on until the break. Rashford was able to continue at the start of the second period, but Anthony Martial was instead taken off, Antony taking the Frenchman’s place.

On the 54th minute mark, De Bruyne was able to extend his legs and hang up a cross for Silva, but Raphael Varane crucially prevented Silva's header back across goal. However, Grealish powered another dangling ball into the danger zone because the creator supreme could not be restrained. In an effort to change the momentum, Erik ten Hag substituted 18-year-old Alejandro Garnacho, and United equalized 12 minutes from the conclusion of normal time when Fernandes swept home Casemiro's inch-perfect through-ball. Rashford was initially suspected of being in an offside position when he touched the ball, which led to the effort being initially disallowed. However, the goal was awarded when referee Stuart Attwell conferred with assistant Darren Cann.

Then, as the home crowd went wild, United miraculously completed the comeback. Fernandes started the breakaway with an excellent reverse pass to Garnacho, who scampered forward and had a cross blocked by Akanji. However, the 18-year-old regained possession and spun Nathan Aké to produce a fizzing cross that Rashford tucked between Ederson's legs. Due to that heartbreaking loss, City must now pray that Arsenal loses the Sunday north London derby. However, a win for the Gunners would put Mikel Arteta's team eight points in front.

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