HESTER UTD (1) vs MANCHESTER CITY (6)
SHELLSHOCKED Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson reflected on “the worst result in my history, ever” after his side were subjected to their heaviest home defeat since 1955 by their bitter rivals.
Two goals apiece from Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko plus strikes from Sergio Aguero and David Silva humiliated the 10-man Premier League champions and extended Manchester City’s lead at the top of the table to five points.
Darren Fletcher’s fine curling goal brought United back to 3-1 and gave them hope of a late fightback, but the second-half sending-off of Jonny Evans left them exposed and the visitors scored three more in injury time.
“It was our worst ever day,” said Ferguson. “It’s the worst result in my history, ever. Even as a player I don’t think I ever lost 6-1. I can’t believe the scoreline.”
City manager Roberto Mancini refused to gloat, insisting United remained “one yard above us, still” despite a victory that removed any lingering doubts that the club are now serious title challengers.
He added: “I think we can only change this after we win the title in the end. After, maybe it will be different, but now United are better than us.”
Talk of Balotelli dominated the build-up, after firefighters had to tackle a blaze at the Italian’s home early on Saturday morning caused by fireworks being lit in the bathroom.
But Mancini resisted calls to omit the flamboyant youngster, instead starting him, and Balotelli repaid him with two goals that effectively settled the contest before Evans’ red card turned it into a free-for-all. His first came on 22 minutes when the outstanding Silva cut back to the edge of the area, where a lurking Balotelli nonchalantly steered a low shot first time into David de Gea’s far corner. In a nod to his history of controversy, Balotelli celebrated (below) by revealing a T-shirt with the slogan ‘Why always me?’ – and sure enough it was him again wreaking havoc on United after the break.
First, Evans’s foul on him brought the red card and then, on the hour, he arrived at the far post to tap in James Milner’s superb drilled cross from the right.
When Aguero scored an almost identical third, from a Micah Richards delivery this time, it was all over, although Fletcher’s effort on 81 minutes hinted at more goals to come.
The floodgates opened as the final whistle loomed, substitute Dzeko tapping in before he and Silva ruthlessly finished counter-attacks.