Manchester City 0-0 Manchester United: Marouane Fellaini sees Red in derby clash at the Etihad
Manchester City have drawn with Manchester United in a match which saw Marouane Fellaini sent off after headbutting Sergio Aguero in front of the referee.
City retain a slim advantage in their top-four battle with United following the frantic goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium.
Fellaini's moment of madness - a clear butt on Aguero as the pair clashed following a trip by the Belgian - came six minutes from time in a tense stalemate that leaves City a point in front of their neighbours and in charge of the Champions League race.
Fellaini had been booked moments before for a trip on the City striker and was in wide-eyed and animated mood as he eventually left the pitch, a stunning denouement to a match the home side dominated without getting on the scoresheet.
Aguero came closer than anyone to breaking the deadlock, hitting the base of the post from a yard in the ninth minute, and City piled on the pressure right up to Gabriel Jesus' disallowed goal in injury-time only for United's 10 men to hold out for a scrappy point.
Jose Mourinho may have been missing the likes of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juan Mata but in uniting Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera in midfield he appeared to be acknowledging his side were outgunned.
So it proved, as Pep Guardiola's side enjoyed the lion's share of possession and opportunities, though United had chances to dish out an undeserved bloody nose when Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Herrera wasted first-half efforts.
CLAUDIO BRAVO: His presence remains a talking point and he gifted Henrikh Mkhitaryan an early chance, but he had little to do until leaving the field injured. 5
PABLO ZABALETA: Returned at right-back with the Jesus Navas experiment apparently ended and gave a solid performance. 6
NICOLAS OTAMENDI: Needed to be alert and time his tackles well as Marcus Rashford's pace troubled him. 6
VINCENT KOMPANY: Commanding at calm at the back, City have looked more composed since he returned to the team. 7
ALEKSANDAR KOLAROV: Provided a good attacking option on the left, making some good crosses and not afraid to shoot. 6
FERNANDINHO: Provided good back-up to the powerful Yaya Toure, although not all of his challenges were well timed. 6
YAYA TOURE: Controlled the midfield for most of the game and exerted a huge influence. 8
RAHEEM STERLING: Threatened United with his pace but was unable to make the most of any openings. 7
KEVIN DE BRUYNE: Showed some nice touches and good vision but lacked the mastery of the absent David Silva. 6
LEROY SANE: Showed flashes of the skills that have troubled many sides in recent months, but United largely kept him quiet.
SERGIO AGUERO: Had some good chances, many of them fashioned himself as he adopted a shoot-on-sight policy, but had no luck. 6
WILLY CABALLERO (for Bravo, 79): Sent on through necessity and had little to do. 5
JESUS NAVAS (for Sane, 80): Gave City from fresh legs, but the opportunities did not come for him. 5
GABRIEL JESUS (for Sterling, 86): Thought he had scored the most dramatic of late winners on his return from injury, but it was disallowed. 6
DAVID DE GEA: Made one superb save from Aguero, but was not overly worked by City. 6
ANTONIO VALENCIA: Another strong showing from the one-time winger in the right-back role. 6
ERIC BAILLY: Read the game superbly and made some critical tackles and interceptions. 7
DALEY BLIND: Was given some awkward moments by Aguero, but stood up to the challenge well. 6
MATTEO DARMIAN: A quietly effective performance up against the pace and trickery of Sterling. 6
MAROUANE FELLAINI: Overshadowed by Toure in the first half and then let frustration get the better of him by headbutting Aguero to get a deserved red card. 3
MICHAEL CARRICK: Gave United some composure when they needed it after City enjoyed some positive spells. 7
ANDER HERRERA: City prevented him imposing himself as he did against Chelsea and spurned a great chance to head United in front. 6
ANTHONY MARTIAL: Found service limited as City kept United pushed back. 5
MARCUS RASHFORD: Looked dangerous in full flight, particularly when running at Otamendi, but service was in short supply. 6
HENRIKH MKHITARYAN: Also found it difficult to impress and was sacrificed soon after Fellaini's dismissal. 5
JESSE LINGARD (for Martial, 80): Hopes he could make a late impact were effectively dashed when Fellaini was sent off. 6
TIM FOSU-MENSAH (for Mkhitaryan, 86): Defensive reinforcement after the sending-off of Fellaini. 5
ASHLEY YOUNG (for Rashford): Came on in injury to waste a few seconds as United held on. 5A Twitter List by BelTel
We look at some talking points below ahead of the game.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFICATION
When the sides met in a hugely-hyped contest at Old Trafford in September, the clubs were battling for top spot in the Premier League. There was an expectation then that both sides would be title contenders. That has not transpired, with City's failure to mount a serious challenge perhaps the biggest surprise.
The stakes for this clash, however, are still high with Champions League qualification important to both clubs. With City fourth and United just a point behind in fifth, the occasion is likely to be a tense one.
With pressures on both sides, there are fears the game could be stifled as a consequence. The meeting has many of the ingredients of a classic. Both sides have in-form, exciting players and the rivalries on the pitch, in the technical areas and in the stands are fierce. They also have plenty to play for in terms of league position. Such pressures have had a negative effect on past derbies, however, and it could be a tight, cagey affair.
The sides differ greatly in terms of the way they have played this season. Pep Guardiola's desire to play fluid, attacking football at City with moves building up from the back has been well documented. His commitment to his philosophy is unyielding, even when defensive mistakes have undermined the gameplan and cost points.
United's approach under Jose Mourinho has been more pragmatic, with his side playing a solid but unspectacular game. City have been inconsistent while United have ground out results. It has brought them both to a similar points total. It is an interesting clash of styles that could go either way.
The rivalry between Guardiola and Mourinho is regarded as one of the most ferocious in the game. There was certainly no love lost between the pair as they clashed regularly during their times in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.
Since arriving in Manchester both have avoided stoking any ill-feeling and their two meetings this season passed without incident. It remains to be seen if the pair have called a truce or whether a high-pressure occasion could bring any underlying tension to the fore.
City have a major doubt over playmaker David Silva, whose form in the second half of the season has been superb. Top scorer Sergio Aguero might also be less than fully fit after taking a knock at Wembley at the weekend.
City could recall another exciting potential match-winner in Gabriel Jesus, but after more than two months out with a broken foot, his match fitness is uncertain. United are also without two key players in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba.
Belfast Telegraph Digital