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Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City: Derby ends in stalemate at Old Trafford

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Riyad Mahrez has a shot saved by David de Gea
Riyad Mahrez’s first-half effort, saved by David de Gea, was one of only four shots on target at Old Trafford

Manchester United and Manchester City played out a dismal derby stalemate behind closed doors at Old Trafford.

In a game devoid of quality and excitement, neither side were able to carve out the opportunity that could make a difference amid the eerie silence of the so-called ‘Theatre Of Dreams’.

Gabriel Jesus was off target and Riyad Mahrez brought a routine save from David de Gea with City’s best first-half chances while Scott McTominay was agonisingly inches away from Victor Lindelof’s flick as United sought the breakthrough.

United thought they had a second-half penalty when Kyle Walker fouled Marcus Rashford but the decision was overturned as VAR revealed the United striker was offside.

It led to an unsatisfactory conclusion for both sides, leaving United seventh in the Premier League and City a place below them.

Will Solskjaer be satisfied?

Kyle Walker challenges Marcus Rashford
United were awarded a penalty for Kyle Walker’s foul on Marcus Rashford, only for it to be overturned

Manchester United needed some sort of response after the despair and disappointment of their Champions League exit following the loss against RB Leipzig – defeat was not an option.

And that goal, at least, was achieved but it was achieved at the end of a real eyesore of a game and was pretty much a flimsy straw that under-pressure boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and United could clutch at.

Paul Pogba was restored to the starting line-up to little or no effect but it would be unfair to single out the midfielder who seems permanently unsettled at Old Trafford, at least according to agent Mino Raiola, because barely anyone had a positive impact on a shocking spectacle.

De Gea was under the microscope after another expensive error in Germany but he, like City counterpart Ederson, had a quiet night.

He completed two straightforward saves from Mahrez’s first-half effort and Rodri’s injury-time shot but other than that was largely unemployed.

It was that sort of game – although once more United’s £40m summer signing from Ajax Donny van de Beek was left to watch on from the bench perhaps wondering what he has to do to get a start.

Stones excels as City stay solid

John Stones blocks a shot by Paul Pogba
John Stones blocked a Paul Pogba shot from one of the few openings in the first half

Manchester City kept their sixth successive clean sheet since losing at Tottenham in November and it was a good night for John Stones in front of watching England manager Gareth Southgate.

The 26-year-old, who played in England’s run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals in Russia, has quietly rebuilt his form and confidence in the past few weeks and was impressive once again as United were kept at bay with relative ease.

Stones was comfortable on the ball but also did what he had to do when the straightforward defensive work was required as he continued the rehabilitation after his career looked to have stalled.

City manager Pep Guardiola showed faith to select Stones ahead of Aymeric Laporte, a sign of how satisfied he is with his form, and the defender did not let him down.

And while it is early days and Stones still has much work to do, the manner of his performance will not have gone unnoticed by Southgate, who has left Stones out of recent England squads but has an important vacancy to fill after the serious injury to Liverpool’s Joe Gomez.

This was a game which left few satisfied – but Stones will certainly be one of them.

What’s next?

Manchester United visit Sheffield United on Thursday (20:00 GMT) before hosting Leeds on Sunday (16:30).

Manchester City are at home to West Brom on Tuesday (20:00) then travel to Southampton on Saturday (15:00).

Player of the match

De BruyneKevin De Bruyne

Line-ups

Man Utd

  • 1de Gea
  • 29Wan-Bissaka
  • 2Lindelöf
  • 5MaguireBooked at 79mins
  • 23Shaw
  • 17Fred
  • 39McTominay
  • 6Pogba
  • 18Bruno Fernandes
  • 10Rashford
  • 11GreenwoodSubstituted forMartialat 74′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Bailly
  • 8Mata
  • 9Martial
  • 26Henderson
  • 27Telles
  • 31Matic
  • 34van de Beek

Man City

  • 31Ederson
  • 2Walker
  • 5Stones
  • 3Rúben Dias
  • 27Cancelo
  • 16Rodri
  • 25FernandinhoBooked at 87mins
  • 26MahrezSubstituted forTorresat 66′minutes
  • 17De Bruyne
  • 7Sterling
  • 9Gabriel Jesus

Substitutes

  • 8Gündogan
  • 13Steffen
  • 14Laporte
  • 20Bernardo Silva
  • 21Torres
  • 22Mendy
  • 47Foden

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