MANCHESTER, England — Manchester City maintained its supremacy over fierce rival Manchester United in unconvincing style Sunday, winning a frenetic derby 1-0 on Sergio Aguero’s second-half goal after playing with an extra man for more than half the game.
Chris Smalling’s 39th-minute sending-off for two quick yellow cards and an injury to fellow center-back Marcos Rojo at the start of the second half left United with a makeshift defense that held out until the 63rd minute.
The resistance was broken when Aguero turned home a cut-back from Gael Clichy for his Premier League-high 10th goal of the season.
United was the more dangerous side in the last 20 minutes, and the final whistle was greeted with relief by City fans, who have seen their side win four consecutive league matches against their biggest rival for the first time since 1969-70.
“We played very, very well until we scored a goal,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. “For different reasons, we dropped a little bit more than we needed, we lost the high possession of the ball we had before that. It is normal in a derby.”
City ended a three-match winless run in all competitions but is still lacking the intensity and ruthlessness it showed in winning the league and the League Cup last season. The gap to unbeaten leader Chelsea is six points, whereas ninth-place United is 13 points off the pace — with just half the points of Jose Mourinho’s side — despite a summer outlay of about $250 million.
It is United’s worst start to a league season after 10 games since 1986.
Smalling’s red card was a turning point in a typically frantic, high-tempo derby, although City already had taken command by that point with United goalkeeper David de Gea saving twice from Aguero and also point blank from Jesus Navas in a three-minute spell.
Booked needlessly in the 31st for impeding an out-of-hand clearance by goalkeeper Joe Hart, Smalling dived into a challenge on James Milner eight minutes later and knew what was coming from referee Michael Oliver.
Photo via Twitter/@heraldsunsport
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