Manchester United received another setback in their bid for a top four finish as Manchester City handed them a 2-0 defeat on Wednesday.

To the surprise of many, Manchester United started in disciplined fashion, denying Manchester City the space they need to make the desired impact. But, their defensive outlook meant chances came few and far between, with Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard coming at the hand of half chances that weren’t converted.

On the other end, David de Gea was largely comfortable, making a couple of regulation saves, with Raheem Sterling coming the closest to finding the back of the net. Manchester United did make a strong start to the second half, but the game turned on its head after Leroy Sane replaced the injured Fernandinho.

In no time, Manchester City had the lead, as Bernardo Silva outfoxed Luke Shaw and beat De Gea at his near post. Twelve minutes later, Pep Guardiola’s men dealt a hammer blow to Manchester United, with Leroy Sane finishing off a counter-attacking move with a thumping strike, although De Gea should have arguably done better to keep the effort out.

With a comfortable lead secured, the Premier League champions sought to see the game out, which they did without much of a fuss. Manchester United though, slumped to their third successive defeat and remain sixth, missing another chance to have their top four hopes in their own hands. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.

David de Gea: 4/10

The struggles continue for de Gea. (Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

The struggles continue for de Gea. (Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

As we had mentioned in our preview, De Gea needed to be at his best to inspire Manchester United to a positive result. But, after a solid first half where his positioning was exemplary, normal services (as has been the case this season) resumed.

The Spaniard was twice beaten at his near post, with the second shot particularly being the one that should have been saved. The errors continue to creep into De Gea’s game, and something has got to give soon enough.

Matteo Darmian: 5/10

A surprise selection by Solskjaer, with Darmian starting in a back-three. The Italian though, did not show any signs of rustiness in his game, defending well against the threat of Raheem Sterling for the most part and making a number of key clearances. But, he should have done better against Leroy Sane for the second goal, having been caught out of position.

Chris Smalling: 5/10

Smalling was solid for the most part on the night, organising the backline smartly, while keeping a check on Sergio Aguero’s output. But, as City piled on the pressure in the second half, the Englishman found it increasingly difficult to deal with the intensity of their attack. Did not make any individual errors, though.

Victor Lindelof: 6/10

Back into his favoured role of being a centre-back, Lindelof was much more assured in his performance than he was against Barcelona and Everton. Handled the threat of Bernardo Silva quite well and made a game-high five clearances. Not at fault for either goal his side conceded. Should not be moved around now.

Ashley Young: 5/10

Young returned to the side in place of Diogo Dalot, starting as the right wing-back. Surprisingly, the Englishman showed a lot of discipline at the back, hardly putting a foot wrong on the defensive side. Looked good on the ball in the first half as well, sending in a couple of dangerous crosses into the box. But, he faded post the break, with wastefulness creeping in. Still, much better than his recent failures.

Andreas Pereira: 6/10

With Nemanja Matic dropped and Scott McTominay not even in the matchday squad, Pereira was the only alternative. And, the Brazilian international gave a good account of himself, showing a lot of energy while pressing and winning the second balls. But, he was rather sloppy on the ball, which meant Manchester United could not build-up efficiently.

Fred: 4/10

With Matic not playing, Fred started as the holding midfielder. The Brazilian was diligent in completing his defensive duties. But, where he was severely lacking on the night was his composure when he had the ball, as he was easily hurried into making wasteful passes. Needs to put in a lot of work on that account.

Paul Pogba: 6/10

Valiant in defeat. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Valiant in defeat. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Pogba has come under a lot of scrutiny lately, from fans and pundits alike. But, the Frenchman was the least of Manchester United’s problems. He meant business on the rare occasion he had the ball. But, with very little movement in front of him, the star midfielder was unable to create as many chances as he would have liked.

Still, Pogba created the most number of chances for Manchester United, while also looking for early passes in order to create the space that Manchester United needed in the final third. A little casual at times when tracking back, that was perhaps his only undoing on a night when he fought valiantly for his side.

Luke Shaw: 5/10

Back from suspension, Shaw essayed a restricted role, defending for the most part on the night. Posed a threat on the odd instance when he charged forward and defended well whenever called into action. But, he switched off a tad bit, and did not get close enough when Bernardo Silva broke the deadlock. Largely faultless otherwise.

Jesse Lingard: 4/10

Lingard started as part of a two-pronged attack on Wednesday and while he showed a lot of desire and energy, he was found wanting in terms of providing the finishing touches. The Englishman was supplied with the two biggest chances on the night for Manchester United, but his finishing was horrendous. Did attempt to put Rashford through on goal, but the weight on the pass was too heavy.

Marcus Rashford: 4/10

Rashford failed to deliver again. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Rashford failed to deliver again. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Another of several Manchester United superstars who has been far from his best levels, Rashford did have some joy against Vincent Kompany when he made use of his pace. But, after the early onslaught he too faded and struggled to impose himself on a vulnerable Manchester City defence. Created a chance for Lingard and came close with a long-range effort, but needs to do much more.

SUBSTITUTES

Romelu Lukaku: 5/10

Given 18 minutes on the pitch, Lukaku failed to create any sort of impact. Showed decent hold-up abilities, but could never get on the end of a chance.

Alexis Sanchez: N/A

On for the final few minutes, Sanchez did not get much of an opportunity to make an impression.

Anthony Martial: N/A

Like Sanchez, Martial did not have any time to make an impact.

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