Pep Guardiola emerged victorious from his first Premier League battle with old adversary Jose Mourinho as Manchester City secured a fully deserved win in a frantic Old Trafford derby.
It is worthy of note that Mourinho has only won just three of his 17 meetings with Guardiola.
Kevin de Bruyne’s cool finish and Kelechi Iheanacho’s tap-in after the Belgian hit the post put City in complete control as they outclassed Mourinho’s Manchester United for most of the opening 45 minutes.
United were handed a lifeline just before the break when City’s debutant keeper Claudio Bravo summed up his desperately uncertain display by dropping a free-kick to allow Zlatan Ibrahimovic to pull a goal back.
They mounted an aerial siege in front of the Stretford End but City held firm to maintain their position at the top of the table, coming closest to scoring when De Bruyne struck an upright from Leroy Sane’s pass.
The long-time rivalry – and acrimony – between Mourinho and Guardiola meant this fixture was ringed on the calendar from the moment it was announced.
And coming so early in the season, it was an opportunity for the pair who clashed when they were in charge of Real Madrid and Barcelona in La Liga to put down an early marker in this season’s pursuit of the Premier League title.
A truce was called in the build-up to the game as Guardiola announced he would accept an invitation for a post-match glass of wine with Mourinho and there was an embrace when they met before kick-off.
Guardiola was out last from the tunnel at the Stretford End, receiving a warmer greeting from Mourinho than from Manchester United’s fans.
And when the game started Guardiola stalked his technical area, micro-managing every moment of City’s approach, while Mourinho crouched and made notes as the game progressed.
Guardiola will have been delighted to see such early superiority, a magnificent first 40 minutes of clinical passing and movement leaving United’s midfield, including £89m world record buy Paul Pogba, as virtual passengers.
It was only that moment of indecision from Bravo that disrupted City – and Guardiola’s congratulations for his players at the end was also an expression of delight for their resilience when the going got tough late on.
The Catalan showed his willingness to shore things up when he sent on Fernandinho for Iheanacho – but it was not such a good day for Mourinho.
He gave summer signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan his first start in an unfamiliar right flank role and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Marcus Rashford after a nightmare first half.
Mourinho also brought on Ander Herrera for Jesse Lingard for the second half but City survived an improved United showing to maintain their flawless start to the season.
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