Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United's Old Trafford is now the Theatre of Nightmares

By Steven Beacom

Just 43 seconds. Not long is it? A kettle takes longer to boil. That's all the time Manchester City needed, though, to exert their authority, assume control of a fixture they needed to win in their quest for Premier League glory and to burst the tiny bubble blown up by Manchester United over the past week.

When City boss Manuel Pellegrini commented recently that there was only one team in Manchester many United fans considered it a cheap shot.

Watching last night's action at Old Trafford, however, you'd have to say the Chilean had a point.

Five places separate the Manchester clubs in the table but right now the rampant Blues are in a different league to the stuttering Red Devils.

United may be able to overcome lightweights like Olympiakos and West Ham. Throw them in against a heavyweight and they crumble.

Just like when United were hammered by Liverpool earlier in the month, this was another crushing 3-0 defeat for David Moyes against fierce rivals.

It wasn't quite as humiliating, yet the home side still lacked the dynamic and devastating qualities of the opposition who dominated and could have scored a few more.

Moyes needed victory over Olympiakos in the Champions League to keep United's season alive, but supporters will be fearing what a brilliant Bayern Munich outfit, who won the Bundesliga last night, will do to them in Europe next week.

Defensively United were a shambles again.

Discipline and organisation must have left with Sir Alex Ferguson.

Rio Ferdinand was a fine player some time ago. There was once a reliability surrounding him. No longer. He's a liability these days, illustrated perfectly in the second half when he allowed Edin Dzeko the freedom of Manchester to volley home Samir Nasri's corner on 56 minutes.

That was Dzeko's second of the evening. The first had come before the crowd had settled in their seats.

With United's defence all at sea after just 43 seconds, the stunning skills of David Silva created the opening with Dzeko pouncing to score from Nasri's shot which had rebounded off the post.

David De Gea denied the Bosnian before the break but, as proved the case, there was always a sense that with City a constant threat Dzeko, filling in for the injured Sergio Aguero, would strike again.

United huffed and puffed in between Dzeko's double though never had the power to blow City's house down. It was built out of Vincent Kompany stone. They had no pace or poise to trouble the ‘noisy neighbours' either, with Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney comfortably handled as Moyes and his players suffered a sixth home defeat in the Premier League and 10th loss overall this season.

City's outstanding midfield of Yaya Toure, who hit number three in the dying seconds, Fernandindo and Silva were much too good for Marouane Fellaini — fortunate not to be red carded for an elbow — Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick.

Pellegrini's men are now three points behind leaders Chelsea with two games in hand and one ahead of Liverpool with a match to spare. Continue to perform like this and they'll take some stopping.

Mind you they were only playing Manchester United. Any team worth their salt beats them at Old Trafford these days!

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