City in danger of missing out on Champions League, says Gary Lim
With Hart, Sterling, Kompany and Otamendi injured, City's top-four hopes now hang by a thread
MAN CITY 0
MAN UNITED 1
(Marcus Rashford 16)
One word summed up Manchester City's performance: Woeful.
The 1-0 loss to Man United was exactly what they deserved for an uninspiring display at the Etihad Stadium this morning (Singapore time).
Worse still, they were dealt a double injury blow (goalkeeper Joe Hart and midfielder Raheem Sterling) they could do without with stakes this high now.
In a match they desperately needed to win to keep a ferocious chasing pack at arm's length, they churned out amateurish stuff that at times beggared belief.
Starting the season looking firm favourites for the Premiership title, they now look unworthy occupants of the coveted fourth spot.
At this rate, they won't stay there for much longer.
Plucky West Ham, fresh from a 2-2 draw with Chelsea, are now just a point behind.
So are Man United, after picking the three gift-wrapped points in a Manchester Derby that lacked its usual intensity.
If City manager Manuel Pellegrini remains hopeful that they can still muster a grandstand finish to the campaign, he's kidding himself.
Sterling hobbled off the field early in the first half to add to City's woes.
Soon after the break, Hart, by far their most consistent performer this season, was stretchered off after making a last-gasp clearance that came about as a result of Martin Demichelis' appallingly casual backpass.
With centre backs Nicolas Otamendi and skipper Vincent Kompany also crocked, City now find themselves without their first-choice centre-back pairing and their No. 1 goalkeeper.
Not to mention Kevin de Bruyne, one of City's best players this season, is still in the treatment room.
Going by this performance, if the 35-year-old Demichelis is going to be the answer to their defensive woes, then City are in deep trouble. His 53rd-minute substitution said it all.
In the end, it was left to a schoolboy almost half his age to show everyone the way.
Marcus Rashford, still only 18, took his chance in the 16th minute with the aplomb that City fans are more accustomed to seeing from their striker Sergio Aguero.
One deft feint from him was all it took to leave Demichelis for dead, before he calmly slotted the ball beyond Hart to give United the lead.
From there, the Red Devils grew in confidence and controlled the first half with a vice-like grip.
Moments later, Anthony Martial could have made it two, but Hart was equal to the task with a fine save from his effort.
City improved after the break but, even then, they never looked like they would score.
The closest they came to equalising was in the 66th minute, when Aguero headed the ball against the post following an outstanding cross by Yaya Toure.
In the final moments, they tried to move up a gear, but to no avail.
City are collapsing and, with fresh injury worries to contend with, don't be surprised if they miss out on a Champions League spot.
That would be unthinkable for incoming City boss Pep Guardiola.
- Newcastle 1 Sunderland 1
- Southampton 3 Liverpool 2
- Tottenham 3 Bournemouth 0