Commentary

City dominates United in derby win

Updated: October 23, 2011, 2:23 PM ET
By Ravi Ubha | ESPN.com

[+] EnlargeManchester United/Manchester City
Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty ImagesMario Balotelli's first goal was a sign of things to come at Old Trafford, as Manchester City dominated the match once United went down to 10 men.

If Manchester City wins the Premier League, it might look back on Sunday's Manchester derby as the turning point for the season. City not only triumphed at Old Trafford, but embarrassed the defending champ, prevailing 6-1 to take a significant five-point lead atop the standings.

United fans will no doubt be telling themselves that five of the six City goals came after Jonny Evans' dismissal early in the second half. Nonetheless, City made the home team pay.

Player ratings: (1-10, 10 = best)

Manchester City
G Joe Hart, 6 -- Didn't have much to do. Most of the shots he faced were directly at him. Had no chance on Darren Fletcher's consolation beauty.

D Micah Richards, 8 -- It looked like it was going to be a long day for Richards. In the opening 10 minutes the right back was tormented by Ashley Young. However, he quickly adapted. Richards made driving runs, maintained possession, should have won a penalty in the second half and set up his team's third goal.

D Vincent Kompany, 7 -- Hardly did anything wrong, again. He made a well-timed challenge on Wayne Rooney in the box in the first half. He picked up a silly yellow card when central defensive partner Joleon Lescott was in a good covering position.

D Joleon Lescott, 7 -- The versatile Lescott and Kompany worked well in tandem. They were untroubled on aerial balls. The former Everton man kept his composure when confronting the slippery Danny Welbeck, who'd made a good run into the box with the score 1-0.

D Gael Clichy, 7 -- In one of manager Roberto Mancini's interesting lineup moves, he chose Clichy instead of the more offensive Aleksandar Kolarov at left back. It paid off. He still can't cross a ball, but Clichy was neat and tidy and picked his spots going forward.

M James Milner, 8 -- Mancini also decided to use Milner instead of Samir Nasri after Milner's contribution against Aston Villa and Villarreal. Again, he got it right. Milner assisted on the opening two goals and put in another solid shift. Deserved a goal.

M David Silva, 9 -- There's no stopping Silva. In possession he continues to be flawless. He made the crucial pass to Milner on the opening goal and linked up with Milner on the second. With United down a man, he beat David De Gea through the legs and set up sub Edin Dzeko with an exquisite, volleyed ball.

M Yaya Toure, 7 -- City got the better of United's midfield, with Toure playing a key role. He did more holding than attacking. Mind you, his pass sparked the third goal.

M Gareth Barry, 7 -- You hardly ever notice Barry, and that's the point. He may make too many square passes, but he doesn't give away the ball, either. Won a header off a corner, leading to the fourth goal.

[+] EnlargeAguero
Laurence Griffiths/Getty ImagesSergio Aguero worked well with Balotelli and was on the score sheet once again for City.

F Mario Balotelli, 8 -- Should we no longer call Balotelli a gamble? He scored for the fifth straight game, coolly finishing to the far corner for 1-0, and he forced Evans into hauling him down for the red. The second was a tap in. No problems with his temperament.

F Sergio Aguero, 8 -- Aguero's work rate is exceptional. He had a good understanding with Balotelli, didn't give away possession and his through ball got Evans in trouble on the sending off. Wasn't about to miss when teed up by Richards for City's third.

Notable subs:
F Edin Dzeko, 7 -- Two goals in 20 minutes. Can't ask for more than that. Then again, Dzeko had to throw in his usual miss.

Manchester United
G David De Gea, 5 -- Beaten six times, but couldn't be faulted on any. And he didn't flap at a corner or free kick.

D Patrice Evra, 4 -- A tough week for Evra after he alleged that he was racially abused by Liverpool's Luis Suarez. Didn't get any protection in front of him at left back, and City took full advantage.

D Rio Ferdinand, 5 -- Yes, Ferdinand's lack of pace is clear to see. But up until Evans' dismissal, the middle of the defense was fine.

D Jonny Evans, 3 -- The game changer was Evans' red. Once it became 11 men against 10, the rout began.

D Chris Smalling, 5 -- Lost Balotelli at the far post on City's second goal. Didn't have a chance to get forward with City dominating possession.

[+] EnlargeRooney/Glichy
Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty ImagesWayne Rooney was among the few United players battling until the end, but he didn't receive much service throughout the match.

M Ashley Young, 5 -- Subtract the opening 15 minutes and a brief spell early in the second, and he was a non-factor. Threw in his dive and left his fullback exposed. But offered up more than most of his teammates.

M Anderson, 4 -- Was no match for Silva. Chased, chased and chased more. Could have been shown two yellow cards and was fortunate not to get sent off when he tangled with Richards in the box.

M Darren Fletcher, 4 -- Scored a brilliant, one-touch goal, finding the top corner. But he's not paid to score. He's paid to neutralize the other team and start the transition from defense to offense. Did neither. Was beaten on a header by Barry on City's fourth goal.

M Nani, 4 -- Had his quietest game of the season. You could count the number of times he touched the ball.

F Wayne Rooney, 6 -- Rooney got no service. Yet he still had several shots on target, firing directly at Hart. With the game out of reach, he kept his cool instead of losing it.

F Danny Welbeck, 6 -- Like Rooney, didn't have much of an opportunity to shine. Made a good run early in the second half, eventually shackled by Lescott. Never stopped trying.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com.

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