MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester United lost for the seventh time in nine games as Manchester City won 2-0 at Old Trafford on Wednesday to take an important step toward the Premier League title. Second-half goals from Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane earned City their sixth win in their past eight league visits to United to leapfrog Liverpool and move back to the top of the table with three games remaining.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side started brightly just three days after their capitulation at Everton, but City had taken control by the time Bernardo opened the scoring on 54 minutes. Sane, on as a second-half substitute, doubled their advantage 12 minutes later after another mistake from David De Gea to leave Pep Guardiola's team three wins from retaining their title.
United started well. They did more running about in the first 15 minutes here than they managed in a full game against Everton as Solskjaer got the reaction he was looking for after the debacle at Goodison Park. He will at least know most of his players care despite watching City's quality tell in the end.
Solskjaer has been worried about the fitness of his players since he arrived in December, and after a positive, energetic start, they had tired by half-time. The pressing that forced City into early mistakes tailed off toward the break and it was little surprise that the visitors took the lead shortly after half-time. Solskjaer needs a preseason with his team and, after they failed to score for the third consecutive game for the first time since 2015, he needs to find goals from somewhere.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- The United manager sprung a huge surprise with his team selection by picking Matteo Darmian and Andreas Pereira. It was Darmian's first league start since Jose Mourinho's last game at Liverpool on Dec. 16, while Pereira was thrown in from the start for the first time for six weeks after Scott McTominay failed a late fitness test. The setup seemed to work initially, but United couldn't keep up the energy levels of the first 30 minutes and City took control in the second half.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 4 -- Made saves from Bernardo and Raheem Sterling, but he should have done better with City's two goals, particularly Sane's finish that went straight through him.
DF Ashley Young, 6 -- Asked to play at right wing-back to look after Sterling on City's left. Did well enough that Sterling had to swap sides in the second half.
DF Luke Shaw, 5 -- Back in the team after missing three games through suspension. Didn't get close enough to Bernardo as he cut in to score City's opener.
DF Matteo Darmian, 6 -- Began the game as the third centre-back in a back five in his first league start since December. Didn't let anyone down.
DF Victor Lindelof, 6 -- Great positioning to make a crucial clearance from under the nose of Aguero early in the second half with the game still goalless.
MF Fred, 5 -- The Brazilian was doing all right until he gave the ball away in midfield, then failed to stop Sterling racing away in the buildup to City's second goal.
MF Andreas Pereira, 6 -- Started for the first time since the win in Paris. Covered a lot of ground in a positive start despite being guilty of occasionally giving the ball away.
FW Jesse Lingard, 6 -- Tried to set the tone early on by chasing City's defenders as high up the pitch as possible. Had a good chance to equalise at the back post from Marcus Rashford's cross.
FW Romelu Lukaku, 5 -- Had one miscued effort in his 18-minute cameo.
FW Alexis Sanchez, N/R -- Replaced Darmian for the final seven minutes.
FW Anthony Martial, N/R -- Came on with Alexis and had too little time to make an impact.