Manchester City capitalized on two defensive lapses by Romelu Lukaku to claim a record-setting 2-1 win over Manchester United and open up an 11-point lead over its fierce rival in the Premier League. Both of Lukaku's mistakes came in United's penalty area while the forward was defending set pieces, with David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi taking advantage to score with close-range finishes. Marcus Rashford equalized for United between City's goals.
, Manchester City's Nicolas Otamendi, right, scores his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, England, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
10 of December 2017 18:39:18
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City capitalized on two defensive lapses by Romelu Lukaku to claim a record-setting 2-1 win over Manchester United and open up an 11-point lead over its fierce rival in the Premier League on Sunday.
Both of Lukaku's mistakes came in United's penalty area while the forward was defending set pieces, with David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi taking advantage to score with close-range finishes in the 43rd and 54th minutes.
Marcus Rashford equalized for United between City's goals, from another defensive mistake, in the meeting of the league's top two teams at Old Trafford.
It was City's 14th straight victory in the league, something that has never been achieved before in England's top flight in a single season. Arsenal won 14 straight games in 2002, but across two seasons.
In handing United its first loss at Old Trafford since winning there in September last year, City ended its neighbor's club record-equaling run of 40 matches unbeaten at home in all competitions.
And it gave City manager Pep Guardiola another win over his great coaching rival Jose Mourinho, his ninth in 20 meetings between them. Mourinho has won four of them.
With 16 games gone, City is still unbeaten in the league and looking unstoppable as it goes for its first league title until Guardiola. Third-place Chelsea is 14 points off the pace, with its coach Antonio Conte having already given up on defending the trophy.
The game kicked off in light snowfall and, until being caught cold by Rashford's equalizer, City overran United at times. Kevin De Bruyne and Silva, in particular, were given so much time in central midfield with opposite numbers Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera unsure whether to close down or retreat in front of their defense.
It meant City was getting quite easily to the edge of United's box before encountering a wall of red jerseys. The final pass was the only thing lacking and invariably the opening goal came from a source which United was supposed to have the advantage: The set piece.
De Bruyne's outswinging corner hit Lukaku as the United striker challenged for the ball with Otamendi, and Silva was on hand to guide the loose ball past stranded goalkeeper David De Gea from just inside the six-yard box.
City's players switched off in the final moments of the half and United made them pay. De Bruyne had already wasted a three-on-two breakaway when Otamendi failed to deal with a routine long ball forward from United center back Marcos Rojo, who was bandaged up after a clash of heads with Silva.
Otamendi misjudged the flight of the ball and succeeded only in glancing a header backward, behind his flat-footed left back Fabian Delph. Rashford was more alert, driving a first-time shot low past goalkeeper Ederson Moraes.
Both teams were forced into halftime substitutions in defense — Kompany off for City, Rojo for United — but the shape of the game didn't change.
Lukaku barely threatened up front for United but he again unintentionally made his presence felt at the other end of the field. He had time and space to deal with Silva's floated free kick in the 54th, yet managed to smash his attempted clearance into the back of teammate Chris Smalling. Just like with the first goal, the ball dropped kindly for a City player, with Otamendi this time powering home the finish.
City needed a sensational double save from Ederson in the 86th to preserve its lead, with Lukaku and Juan Mata denied by the Brazilian.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80