Ole Gunnar Solskjaer conceded Manchester United fell well short of the standards set against Manchester City at the weekend as Simon Kjaer's late header secured a 1-1 draw for Milan in their Europa League last-16 first leg. 

United were in fine form on Sunday as they brushed aside Premier League leaders City on their own ground, yet the Red Devils were well off the pace against Stefano Pioli's side at Old Trafford on Thursday. 

Amad Diallo became the youngest non-British player to score for United in major European competition (aged 18 years and 243 days), netting with his first ever attempt for the Red Devils in the 50th minute, but Kjaer scored a vital away goal for the Rossoneri deep into stoppage time.

It was the first Europa League goal United have conceded in the 90th minute or later, while they have been eliminated from six of their past eight ties in European competition when they have failed to win the first leg at home, most recently against Barcelona in the 2018-19 Champions League.

United could not complain Milan's leveller was undeserved, though, the visitors having enjoyed 15 shots to their hosts' seven, and Solskjaer could not hide his disappointment.

"I'm very disappointed to concede with one of the last kicks of the ball," he told BT Sport. "That makes it harder, of course, but it was always going to go down to the second game.

"We were a long way [from the performance against City]. Possession-wise, 50-50, we were a bit too slow with the possession, though.

"It's sometimes hard, on the back of a game like we had, but that's the learning we have to get into ourselves. We have to perform every single week because we're playing against good teams and these are definitely a good team."

While Solskjaer accepted a draw was a fair result, Harry Maguire and Daniel James were guilty of shocking misses for United.

"The one with Dan James, second half, it happens at times, you don't connect with the ball as you want to," Solskjaer added. 

"We could have scored one or two more, but they had loads of attempts, especially the header second half [from Rade Krunic], back stick, could have gone in. Probably, a draw is a fair result."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Stefano Pioli have proved critics wrong to earn the right to be at Manchester United and Milan, Massimo Taibi says.

United host the Rossoneri on Thursday in the first leg of the Europa League last 16 in what will be their 11th competitive meeting but the first outside the European Cup or Champions League.

Since they last faced one another in the Champions League last 16 11 years ago, when United won 7-2 on aggregate, each club has fallen far from their previous positions at the top of English and Italian football.

Milan's last Scudetto triumph came in 2011, while United have not won the Premier League since Alex Ferguson's final season in charge in 2012-13.

There have been signs of recovery under Solskjaer and Pioli, however. United are second in the league this term, 11 points behind leaders Manchester City after their 2-0 derby win, while Milan are above champions Juventus in Serie A and only six points behind leaders Inter.

Taibi enjoyed only brief spells as a keeper at each club, with high-profile mistakes leading to rather perfunctory exits, but he went on to make more than 550 club appearances in Italy in a respectable career.

The 51-year-old therefore knows only too well the way the Red Devils and Rossoneri can be magnets for criticism, and he thinks Pioli and Solskjaer deserve immense credit for the work they have done in restoring respectability at two of the world's grandest clubs.

Taibi told Stats Perform News: "If these two managers have managed Milan and United for a while now, it is because they deserve it.

"In football, there are no presents, let alone at such big clubs who are always in the eye of the critics' storm. They very well deserve the clubs they are managing now. They started off in sceptical environments but they proved them wrong with results.

"I spent a few months with Solskjaer and I was impressed how easy it was for him to score, even coming from the bench. I remember they called him the 'angel-faced killer' because he looked like a decent kid but in front of goal was ruthless like a killer.

"I remember he was one of the many people in Manchester who tried to help me settle. Because he was a superb player, a champion who managed to carve out his shining space among Andy Cole, Dwight York and Teddy Sheringham and ended up scoring the winning goal in 1999 final versus Bayern Munich.

"A man who started humble and became great as a player and a manager."

Milan will be without a host of key names for the visit to Old Trafford, including former United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but Taibi thinks their true strength lies in their collective endeavour.

He believes Solskjaer has fostered a similar ethos at United, with star names such as Bruno Fernandes lifting a squad of Europa League quality to a higher standing.

"Milan's strength is the collective Pioli managed to create, just like United. In these two squads that are Europa League level, I dare say, there are some individuals who are added value and lift the quality to Champions League level.

"At Milan, you have Ibrahimovic despite being 39 years old, or [Gianluigi] Donnarumma, real world-class players who would play in any club aiming at winning the Champions League.

"The same goes for my ex-colleague, because I played with Solskjaer, who can boast Bruno Fernandes and the great striker [Marcus Rashford] or [David] De Gea, a keeper I like a lot.

"Solskjaer, just like Milan, managed to create a good group with some individual talent that brings that extra bit of quality you sometimes need.

"They are both having great seasons in their respective leagues. United have just won their derby, which is always a nerve-racking game, although I guess City are destined to win the title... just like Inter, I reckon.

"Both Milan and United have started the season to become more solid, to secure Champions League berths, and to me, they are working very well.

Despite some infamous errors against Southampton and Chelsea in his short-lived United career, Taibi still holds the club close to his heart – and even still fits into his old training shirt.

"Of course, watching this match is special for me. I spent two years at Milan and only some months at United but it is not down to length of time, it is about feelings and memories that settled in.

"I still feel a link to Milan and even to United, although I didn't stay long. As you know, you just called me while I was training. And I was training with this 1998 United training kit, the only one big size I have now for my fat belly. All the other shirts don't fit anymore!"

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised the two appointments made by Manchester United in a major restructure at the club.

United installed former player Darren Fletcher as technical director and promoted John Murtough to the new role of football director in an announcement on Wednesday.

Fletcher, who won five Premier League titles as a United player over the course of 12 years, returned to the club as a youth coach in October before being promoted to the first-team setup in January.

He now has a new role in the structure to support Solskjaer, who was pleased to see the former Scotland international moved into a senior position along with Murtough.

"I am very happy we have made this decision and appointment," Solskjaer said ahead of United hosting Milan in the Europa League last-16 first leg.

"I have known John since I came and it is now more of a formal role. He has been working well behind the scenes - he is a cultural fit.

"Very happy with what we have. Continuity and fresh ideas.

"A few months back when we were making a final decision there were other things in pipeline for Fletcher.

"One thing I was sure of was we could not lose Darren. He has got fresh ideas. He has a bright eye for football, a really keen eye.

"Now a little bit less coaching [for him] and more influence on the other side - go speak to players and sell Man United as the club he knows."

Solskjaer was asked about how the changes would affect United's activity in the transfer market at the end of the season.

The United boss added: "It will be an interesting window.

"Of course everyone in world football is affected by the pandemic.

"The process of our recruitment is still going to be the same with new roles. Work we have been doing for years now anyway.

"The communication is very good and we are always looking to add quality to the squad."

A blockbuster tie against Milan will be the 11th meeting between the two teams, but the first to take place outside of the Champions League.

United have been eliminated from four of their five knockout ties with Milan, but go into the contest at Old Trafford on a high after their stunning 2-0 win at Manchester City in Sunday's derby.

Captain Harry Maguire senses a strong belief within the squad amid a gruelling fixture calendar.

"When you win the big games against the top teams it gives us confidence that we know we can beat anyone," he said. "We have felt that for around a year now.

"Of course you are expected to win trophies at this club. It is really important. We are playing for three competitions.

"If I need a rest I will speak to the manager, but I am used to it now. I feel good physically and the more we win the better I will feel mentally. I'll rest when I'm retired!"

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is running out of superlatives to describe Erling Haaland after the Borussia Dortmund striker sent Champions League records tumbling.

Haaland scored twice in Tuesday's last-16 second leg against Sevilla at Signal Iduna Park to help Dortmund through 5-4 on aggregate in a thrilling tie.

In doing so, Haaland became the first player to score twice in four successive matches in the Champions League as he took his tally in the tournament to 20 goals in 14 games.

That is the quickest time a player has reached 20 goals and, at 20 years and 231 days, he is the youngest player to net in six straight games in UEFA's flagship competition.

Another record was also broken as the former Salzburg star ousted Solskjaer as Norway's all-time leading scorer in the competition.

And Solskjaer, who is now in charge of Manchester United, is not surprised the player he formerly managed at Molde is continuing to reach new levels.

"It was just a matter of time before he scored more goals than me in the Champions League," he said at a news conference on Wednesday previewing United's Europa League tie with Milan.

"There are not many more superlatives to use. Whatever I want to say I will say in Norwegian directly to him."

Asked about his own scoring accolades as a player, Solskjaer said: "Unfortunately I can't play football anymore and Erling can only work on improving and keep on scoring.

"My focus is only on improving Man United so I'll gladly give away all my records to improve what I'm doing now.

"Now it’s you're the first manager to do this to win this and my focus is always on improving and getting better." 

Of Haaland's 20 Champions League goals, 15 have been scored with his stronger left foot, four with his right and one via his head, coming from 45 shots in total.

No player has found the net more times than the Norwegian since he made his debut in the competition for Salzburg in September 2019, with Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (19) next on the list and Kylian Mbappe third with 10 goals.

Manchester United will be without Marcus Rashford for the first leg of their Europa League round-of-16 tie against Milan at Old Trafford.

Rashford limped off during the second half of Sunday's 2-0 derby victory over Premier League leaders Manchester City having suffered an ankle injury.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not counting on the England forward for Thursday's showdown and believes he remains a doubt for the weekend visit of West Ham.

"I don't think he will be available," said Solskjaer. "He didn't join in training today.

"I think he is out of [the Milan game] and still a doubt for the weekend."

Rashford has 18 goals in all competitions this season, while his 10 assists are already the most he has managed in a campaign for United.

Although it ultimately had unfortunate consequences, Solskjaer felt the sight of the 23-year-old sprinting back to dispossess City winger Riyad Mahrez when incurring the injury demonstrated his overall value to the Red Devils' cause.

"That 60- or 70-yard recovery run showed the hunger, appetite, desire and humility in the team, so it was worth it, but you never like to lose players to injury," he said.

Edinson Cavani is also a doubt, having sat out the Manchester derby.

Quotes from the Uruguay striker's father emerged this week, suggesting he has decided he does not want to stay at Old Trafford beyond the end of this season and has his heart set on a move to Argentinian giants Boca Juniors.

But Solskjaer was not keen on being dragged into the debate.

"I can't comment on what has been said. I can only say that we are very pleased with Edinson when he is here. Day in and day out," Solskjaer said.

"He is proving his personality, his professionalism. He is really helping the young kids - as we wanted him to.

"He will make his decision. He knows we are very fond of what he has given to the club even if he has played less than he wanted to."

Milan arrive in Manchester with a depleted squad, without the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Hakan Calhanoglu and Theo Hernandez through injury.

It looks like Solskjaer will have to contend with similar selection headaches, after revealing Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw are nursing knocks after their starring roles in the derby victory.

Midfielders Donny van de Beek and Paul Pogba remain sidelined by muscular complaints, while David de Gea is absent once more having returned to Spain for the birth of his child. Dean Henderson is set to continue in goal.

Edinson Cavani's father has claimed his son is unhappy at Manchester United and wants to leave at the end of this season, with Boca Juniors his preferred destination.

Uruguay international Cavani has proved a popular addition to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad this term, scoring seven goals and supplying two assists across 25 appearances in all competitions.

Solskjaer recently said an extened stay at Old Trafford was possible for the 34-year-old, but Cavani's father Luis told TyC Sports that a return to South America could be on the cards.

"My son is not happy in England and wants to return nearer his family. He wants to play in South America.

"I want Edinson to play for a team which fights for important trophies. He has had many conversations with [Boca vice-president Juan Roman] Riquelme and would like to play for Boca.

"At the halfway point of the year, he'd like to return to South America. My son’s idea is not to continue there [in Manchester]. He wants to return.

"I think he's going to come back in June this year."

Cavani Sr cited his son's punishment by the Football Association for using a racially insensitive word in a social media post as a factor in his unhappiness.

Cavani was handed a three-game ban for bringing the game into disrepute by the Football Association (FA), although CONMEBOL and the Uruguayan FA came out in defence of the player.

"There are things which sometimes annoy us as humans, as people. The whole ban issue annoyed him," Luis Cavani added.

"That has been playing on him, sometimes players can't find form either. These things can weigh heavy on you. Sometimes mentally you can get dragged down."

It remains to be seen what impact this development has upon Cavani's future, with Solskjaer having previously stated United were open to taking up an option of a further 12 months with the former Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli star.

"I can only say Edinson has done well," the United manager said. "I've been impressed by him, he's really gelled in the group and we’ll sit down and speak with him in the near future to see his plans and our plans.

"It's a good discussion to have. We always speak to the players, and with his contract situation at the moment we’re very pleased with what he’s done."

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire paid tribute to the "brilliant" job Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is doing as manager, adamant he has overseen an improvement in their fortunes.

Maguire is in his second season at United, having joined in 2019 in a reported £80million deal, making him the most expensive defender of all time.

Solskjaer guided United back into the Champions League last term, though their third-place finish with 66 points was still seen as somewhat underwhelming given the significant amount of money spent on the team and the fact title-winners Liverpool ended up with 99 points.

Although the Red Devils failed to get out of their Champions League group, with Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig going through instead, United do look likely to improve significantly on their haul of 66 points – after 28 Premier League games, they have 54 following the weekend win over leaders Manchester City.

That 2-0 victory probably came too late in the season to do any real damage to City's march towards the title, with Pep Guardiola's men still 11 clear at the summit, but Maguire believes there are clear signs of progress under the Norwegian.

"We have a great relationship," Maguire told UEFA about Solskjaer ahead of Thursday's Europa League last-16 first leg visit of Milan.

"I feel he's done brilliantly – he's cool, calm, but he's also got the side of him where he can turn when he needs to and when the players need a little telling-off.

"We're close. We speak a lot before training, before games. I give my ideas to him and how I feel the group is and the mentality of the group and what we can improve on and where we can go as a club, and he's exactly the same.

"We've definitely improved. I joined two years ago, and people didn't think we'd get in the top four. We got in the top four, and then you start the next season and people don't think you'll get in the top four [again].

"But then when you find yourself, let's say, sitting second in the table, people then say: 'Well, Manchester United should be second in the table; they should be challenging for the top.' So, everything… it's just the demands, the demands, the demands.

"The mentality has changed. We're more consistent now. Obviously, it was disappointing to get knocked out in the Champions League, but we've found ourselves in a position in the Premier League where now we've got to kick on."

United are in the knockout phase of the Europa League for the second successive season – in 2019-20 they made it to the semi-finals but were beaten by Sevilla.

The omens are not great for United this time around, either – they have been eliminated from four of their five knockout ties with Milan, with no team knocking them out of European competitions more often.

Nevertheless, Milan's recent record in the last 16 of European tournaments is poor, being defeated at this stage in six of seven previous occasions they have gone this far into a continental competition.

All good things must come to an end, and that proved the case for Manchester City on Sunday.

Their remarkable winning run of 21 games in all competitions came to an end with a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United in the derby.

City hold an 11-point lead over their neighbours at the top of the Premier League, however, and the real battle seems set to be for Champions League places.

Tottenham boosted their hopes with a 4-1 thrashing of Crystal Palace, with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min combining for a record-setting goal, while Liverpool's dismal form continued as they suffered a sixth successive home defeat. Fortress Anfield is well and truly a thing of the past.

At the bottom, West Brom and Newcastle United played out a goalless draw. We take a look at the best Opta facts from Sunday's games.

 

Manchester City 0-2 Manchester United: Winning streak grinds to a halt

If there was one team City did not want their incredible run of wins to come to an end against, it would have been United.

It was the first time City have lost since November, when they went down 2-0 at home to Spurs, ending a run of 28 games without a defeat across all competitions. Pep Guardiola's team had won their last 21 in total, including 15 in the league, though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to have the better of his counterpart.

United have won three consecutive away games in all competitions at City for the first time since a run of four between November 1993 and November 2000, and among the managers Guardiola has faced more than three times across all competitions as a top-flight boss, Solskjaer is the only one to have beaten the Spaniard (four) more often than he has lost to him.

Solskjaer is also the first manager in United's history to win each of his first three away meetings in all competitions with City. Since the start of the 2019-20 season, three of City's five home defeats in all competitions have come against United.

The Norwegian is now the only manager to have won three away games against sides managed by Guardiola.

Bruno Fernandes scored the opener from the penalty spot inside two minutes. Since his Premier League debut in February 2020, he has scored 12 of the 13 penalties he has taken in the competition. 

After just 101 seconds, Fernandes' penalty was the earliest goal that City have ever conceded in a Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, and the first they have conceded within two minutes at home in the competition since Steed Malbranque's strike for Fulham at Maine Road in January 2003.

Liverpool 0-1 Fulham: Reds' Merseyside misery rolls on

It is hard to believe that before their defeat to Burnley on January 21, Liverpool had not lost a league match at Anfield since April 2017. 

Liverpool have now lost six home games in a row, their longest ever such streak, while they are the first side to lose six in a row on home soil in the Premier League since Huddersfield Town in February 2019 (seven).

The Reds' six league defeats at Anfield this season is their most in a single campaign since 1953-54 (also six), when the Reds finished bottom of the top-flight, with Fulham the first promoted team to win away at Liverpool in the top flight since Blackpool Town in October 2010.

Jurgen Klopp's side are winless in their last eight league home matches, only embarking on a longer winless top-flight run at Anfield once before – 10 games between October 1951 and March 1952. They have won just one of their last seven matches in the competition.

Fulham, on the other hand, are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League away games (W2 D6) – their longest run without defeat on the road in their top-flight history – and are now level on 26 points with 17th-placed Brighton and Hove Albion.

Excluding penalties and own goals, Liverpool have failed to score with each of their last 115 shots at Anfield in the Premier League (including 16 against Fulham). This is the longest such scoreless run of shots on home soil by any side.

Tottenham 4-1 Crystal Palace: Bale and Kane rampant as Spurs boost top-four hopes

Only leaders City (35) have earned more points at home in this season's Premier League than Tottenham (24), and Jose Mourinho's men were in fine form against Palace.

Gareth Bale scored either side of Christian Benteke's equaliser – since the 2012-13 season, only Olivier Giroud (32) has more headed goals in the competition than the Belgian – with both of the Welshman's goals teed up by the brilliant Kane.

Bale has scored in each of his last three home appearances in all competitions, the first time he has done so since September 2018 for Real Madrid (four in a row), and first time for Spurs since May 2013.

Kane then curled in a sensational third goal, before he headed home a fourth from Son Heung-min's cushioned cutback.

Son and Kane have now assisted one another for 14 Premier League goals this season, breaking Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton's all-time competition record of 13 set in 1994-95 for Blackburn.

Kane's second goal was also Spurs' 100th strike in all competitions this season, seeing them become the second club in Europe's "top five" leagues to reach that tally in 2020-21, after Bayern Munich (106).

Spurs talisman Kane is the first Tottenham player since Jurgen Klinsmann in May 1998 to score twice and provide two assists in a Premier League match, while he has been directly involved in 40 goals in 36 games in all competitions this season (24 goals and 16 assists), the most of any player for a top-flight club.

West Brom 0-0 Newcastle United: Bore draw does little for survival hopes

There was not so much in the way of entertainment in the day's early kick-off, as strugglers West Brom and Newcastle shared the spoils.

West Brom are unbeaten in three home league games against Newcastle (W1 D2) for the first time since January 2005, while only Southampton (seven) have gained fewer Premier League points in 2021 than the Baggies (10) and Newcastle (nine).

Newcastle have won just one of their last nine Premier League away games (D1 L7), failing to score in six of those matches.

West Brom had 13 shots at goal in the match, their joint-most attempts without scoring in a Premier League game this season (also 13 v Burnley in October).

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lauded Luke Shaw, labelling the full-back "absolutely incredible" after his performance in the derby win over Manchester City.

Shaw scored as United upstaged runaway Premier League leaders City 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty after just 101 seconds before Shaw doubled the lead five minutes into the second half away to City, who had their 21-match winning streak snapped and a run of 28 games unbeaten across all competitions.

Solskjaer hailed Shaw – who joined from Southampton in 2014 – following his impressive display as the England international continues to impress at Old Trafford after his rocky start to life in Manchester.

"Absolutely incredible," Solskjaer said of Shaw. "He was a massive doubt until after the warm-up. He needed to do the warm-up to be cleared to play. So Alex [Telles] was ready but Luke's performance [was] top.

"He's aggressive, he's hard to play one against one. When he goes forward on those on runs he's unstoppable.

"He's just improved so much and he's improving all the time and delighted for him."

United have won three consecutive away games in all competitions against City for the first time since a run of four between November 1993 and November 2000.

The Red Devils are also 22 matches unbeaten away from home in the Premier League, though they remain 11 points adrift of City atop the table.

United star Marcus Rashford limped off with 17 minutes remaining against City and he is set to undergo a scan on his ankle.

Rashford's assist for United's second goal was his 10th across all competitions this season – the first time he has reached double figures for assists in a single season in his club career.

"It's something with his ankle. When he sprinted back about 60-70 yards to save a goal. Just shows the attitude of the boy, and his pace and how he sacrificed himself," said Solskjaer, who became the first manager in United's history to win each of his first three away games against City.

"I think, maybe he went over on his ankle or something, but we need to do a scan. I've not had time to sit down and speak to the doctor yet."

Despite United's success against Pep Guardiola's side, Solskjaer is refusing to look beyond Thursday's Europa League last-16 first leg against Milan.

"All we have to think about is Thursday," he added. "Every game, one game at a time and see where we're at. We want to improve. I want the player to improve. We want to learn from this experience. We want to learn from Wednesday's experience against [Crystal] Palace. We need to improve on so many things to get our consistency better.

"Of course, they're 11 points ahead of us if I'm not wrong, with 10 games to go, so that's a long, long way. So we need to focus on ourselves and just be a better Man United and I feel we're a better Man United now than we were 12, 13, 16 months ago."

Manchester City can learn important lessons from Sunday's 2-0 derby defeat to Manchester United, according to Pep Guardiola.

Bruno Fernandes' second-minute penalty and a fine Luke Shaw effort shortly into the second half gave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a third consecutive victory at the Etihad Stadium.

It brought City's record-breaking run of 21 consecutive wins in all competitions to a shuddering halt, although their lead over their neighbours at the Premier League summit is still a healthy 11 points.

With ambitions to taste elusive success in Europe this season, Guardiola acknowledged his in-form side might have been handed a timely reality check.

"Today we are going to talk about it because we lost and that is the news," he said. "But the news is 21 victories in a row. This is the news.

"This result is going to help us a lot to know how difficult it is.

"We knew it but sometimes you have to not win one game to realise. The important one is the next one.

"There are still many games to play, 30 points to play for and in the next game we have the opportunity to do it."

City are back in action against Southampton on Wednesday and Guardiola did not feel his players did too much wrong in a game where Gabriel Jesus' clumsy challenge on Anthony Martial inside the first minute left them fighting an uphill battle.

"We played a fantastic game, a lot of shots," he said. "Starting in that way punished us a lot against a team who, for many years, defends sitting back for the counter-attack.

"They made incredible high pressing, but when you break this action they defend far back.

"On the counter-attack they are so fast. Like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said, the history of Man United is about the counter-attack, the pace.

"We played good, apart from the first 10 minutes. Fortunately we could not be clinical up front and congratulations to United."

Rodri rattled the crossbar shortly before Shaw extended United's advantage – something Guardiola conceded was a pivotal passage in the match.

"It's tough. We had a shot against the crossbar from Rodri and after they did the goal. That's football, you have to overcome," he added.

"After the goal there were five minutes where we were not [good] but after we take the game [to United] and we were really good at the normal level that we are playing.

"We played to continue [the run], we played to do it and it will be a good lesson not to concede the goals we conceded.

"When we lost here to Leicester 5-2, we conceded three penalties. Here, another penalty. It was not a dangerous situation [before the foul], always you have the keeper to save it.

"Apart from this, we played really well. Even after 2-0 we played really well. We conceded a few counter-attacks, but it is normal.

"United are really good at this. The moment we start to attack and they defend deep they are a fantastic, incredible team."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was delighted to see Anthony Martial back to his best in Manchester United's derby win, particularly as the forward nearly missed Sunday’s game at the Etihad Stadium.

Martial was an injury doubt right up until kick-off after not featuring in the 0-0 draw away at Crystal Palace in midweek due to a knee problem.

However, the Frenchman produced an outstanding display against Manchester City, including winning the early penalty that allowed Bruno Fernandes to fire the visitors in front after just 101 seconds.

Luke Shaw doubled the lead in the 50th minute having also been doubtful to play himself, with the Red Devils putting an end to their neighbours' 21-game winning streak in impressive fashion.

"I thought Anthony was absolutely superb today, more like the Anthony of old," Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

"And to think he was a doubt this morning. He was until two hours – or after the warm-up, to be fair. I wasn't sure he was going to play or not. It was the same with Luke. 

"Today he [Martial] rediscovered himself, I feel. He was really strong on the ball, positive, and we have to be a positive team.  

"We want to play at a high tempo, of course we do, but we had to defend well. You’ve got to defend so you can attack the spaces that appear."

Martial played in a central role with Edinson Cavani unavailable, completing 95 per cent of his attempted passes as he consistently caused problems to City's previously stingy defence.

The only disappointment was his failure to convert a glorious opportunity to score himself in the second half, a goal his performance richly deserved.

"When you come away with a 2-0 win and another clean sheet, and a performance like this, you're delighted," Solskjaer said of his team's display against the runaway league leaders.

"We knew it was a challenge. Of course, the first goal dictates a lot of what happened out there.

"We could play more on the result, I didn't like us coming into half-time as we played too much on the result, because we were winning.  

"In the second half we got on the ball a bit more and the second goal was fantastic."

Pep Guardiola's side had not lost in their previous 28 games in all competitions, a run that stretched back to a 2-0 reverse away at Tottenham in November 2020. 

However, Solskjaer has developed a welcome habit of winning at the Etihad. The Norwegian is the first manager in United's history to win each of his first three away meetings in all competitions against City, who still remain 11 points clear at the Premier League summit. 

"They are too far ahead to think we can catch them," Solskjaer said. "Last year, we caught up 15 points up to Leicester, but those are different propositions. 

"Even today, they do put you under so much pressure that you can see you’re playing against a very, very good team."

Anyone concerned that famous old fixtures like the Manchester derby are becoming devoid of emotion without supporters need only have looked at Gabriel Jesus' expression as Ederson just failed to keep out Bruno Fernandes' second-minute penalty.

Manchester City's Brazil forward netted a midweek brace in the 4-1 win over Wolves to persuade Pep Guardiola to keep him in the line-up on Sunday.

One of Jesus' big calling cards is his work rate, never one to shirk defensive duties that plenty of attackers dread.

Even so, haring back into his own area to clumsily foul Anthony Martial after mis-controlling a throw-in was taking that trait to unhelpful extremes.

Ederson got a firm hand to Fernandes' strike but could not prevent City from conceding their earliest ever Premier League goal at the Etihad Stadium. Jesus hit his head with his hands and howled in frustration.

At that moment it was easy to remember the eye-opening quotes the 23-year-old supplied during a goal drought last season

"Always I think, 'Wow I have to score' because I'm playing for a big club in big competitions with big players," he said.

"I think it happens with other players. I cannot talk about other players I can only talk about me when I'm not happy with me I want to shoot myself in the head because it's difficult for me."

If City's collective demeanour had been one of swaggering confidence fuelled by inevitable triumph during their 21-match winning run, it was never one Jesus could comfortably tap into.

He now has no goals in 10 derby appearances, but you won't need to tell him that. Sergio Aguero's expiring contract and the likelihood of City bringing in an elite forward replacement probably weighs heavily, too.

Nevertheless, Jesus led from the front as Guardiola's side sought to recover from a shambling start.

He was lurking when Harry Maguire cleared a dangerous Kevin De Bruyne cross – despite a patchy performance, City's midfield talisman created eight opportunities for team-mates – and a running battle before half-time saw the United centre-back booked for a foul on his opponent.

Jesus had two shots blocked and concluded a half he began clattering into Martial by clattering into the post in a vain attempt to convert Riyad Mahrez's cross-cum-shot.

In the opening stages of the second period, it was Jesus' lay-off that saw Rodri hit the crossbar. An equaliser felt close, but then the roof caved in on Guardiola's men.

Joao Cancelo has been a revelation in his hybrid full-back/midfielder role, but Martial and Marcus Rashford's tirelessly penetrative running offered a reminder he can still lack when it comes to purely defensive duties.

The Portugal international veered into no-mans land under Dean Henderson's throw, allowing the excellent Luke Shaw to start and finish a wonderful counter-attack.

For a spell in the middle of the second half, a defence breached only 19 times in the Premier League this season appeared to be wearing an 'all through traffic' sign. Cancelo was spared from himself as Kyle Walker entered the fray to shore up City's right-hand side before a dejected Jesus made way for Phil Foden.

The lead at the top of the Premier League is 11 points and this result – Solskjaer's third win in succession at the Etihad Stadium – should count for little beyond bragging rights. But Europe's elite will have taken note.

As City strained to get back into the match, ghosts of other Guardiola setbacks returned. Raheem Sterling, like Jesus still without a goal in this fixture, spurned glorious chances; players did not get shots away in a crowded penalty area; individual errors piled up and counter-attacking routes were left wide open.

A marque signing like Erling Haaland would solve some of Sunday's problems in the opposition penalty area, but little of what unfolded in other areas of the field.

Speaking at his pre-match news conference, Guardiola rejected any notion of a reality check perhaps being useful for his side. Such questionable logic is unlikely to feature in his forensic analysis of the game.

However, the last time United bloodied a City team bound for the title in April 2018, they did so after Liverpool had ransacked them in the Champions League quarter-finals. This lesson is at least more handily timed.

City's rock-solid look for large parts of this season was entirely absent and that will concern Guardiola, as it is their key point of difference from unsuccessful tilts at European glory.

Their collective loss of heads can only be partially explained by Jesus shooting himself in the foot.

Gabriel Jesus got the nod to lead Manchester City's attack in the derby against Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium, with Phil Foden having to be content with a place on the bench.

Jesus took his tally in all competitions to 11 goals this season with a midweek brace in the 4-1 win over Wolves, which extended City's winning streak to 21 matches and allowed the Premier League leaders to head into Sunday's fixture with a 14-point lead over third-placed United.

That performance against Wolves persuaded Pep Guardiola to retain Jesus in his XI, despite the fact his team have often operated without a specialist centre-forward during their record-breaking run.

Foden was joined among the substitutes by Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva, as Kevin De Bruyne was named as captain in midfield on his 250th City appearance.

Both Jesus and De Bruyne were looking to improve their individual records against United. The Brazil striker has not scored in nine derby appearances, while none of De Bruyne's 77 Premier League assists have come with United as the opponents.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was aiming to become the first United manager in history to win his first three away derbies and selected a front three of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Daniel James.

Edinson Cavani returned from injury during the midweek 0-0 at Crystal Palace – United's third consecutive goalless draw – but the veteran striker was not part of the derby matchday squad.

Bruno Fernandes is convinced the signing of Alex Telles is the key component behind Luke Shaw's dramatic improvement at Manchester United after the left-back won the club's Player of the Month award.

It was not so long ago that Shaw's United career appeared to be petering out to an underwhelming conclusion, particularly during Jose Mourinho's ill-fated reign.

In two-and-a-half years playing for the Portuguese coach, Shaw only made 33 Premier League appearances. While he did have injury and fitness problems, the manager's attitude seemingly did little to endear himself to the player.

Mourinho criticised Shaw publicly on several occasions, yet the left-back kept his head down and – to the surprise of very few – ultimately outlasted the 'Special One', kicking on brilliantly under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

His five assists this season is already a personal high for a Premier League season, having only managed seven in total in previous campaigns, but that's just the tip of the iceberg – Shaw's chance creation frequency of 2.44 per game is almost double his previous best of 1.3 in 2016-17, and that was from just 11 appearances.

The only defender to lay on goalscoring chances at a better rate than Shaw is Ryan Fredericks (2.45), though his marginally improved record comes from 13 fewer games than Shaw's 23.

Liverpool's Andrew Robertson has previously been held up as something of a standard-bearer for full-backs in the Premier League, yet Shaw's 31 key passes from open play is just one less than his 32 from four fewer outings. Joao Cancelo leads the way (36), though he does count set-piece deliveries as among his strong points – the United man does.

Statistically, this season is an outlier for Shaw in almost every regard and highlights just how much of a step forward he has taken, but Fernandes is convinced there has been one major catalyst for this resurgence.

Speaking to the United website ahead of Sunday's derby clash with Manchester City, Fernandes said: "[Shaw]'s been playing really, really well in the last few months. I think he started a little bit slow like everyone did because at the beginning of the season we didn't start good.

"I think the competition between Alex and Luke has given both of them the chances to be better and to improve. This is really important because you know if you are not performing well you will be out of the team.

"I think Luke started to perform well when he had that pressure from Alex. At the same time, Alex when he plays has played really well because he knows that Luke is on the bench.

"So, the pressure between them is good but the relationship between them is better, I have seen that in the stands. Alex is always pushing to help everyone and I remember when I came off against Real Sociedad it was Luke in the stands and I saw a lot of times Luke pushing to help Alex.

"This is what we're about. You can be fighting for the same place, but you are fighting for the same achievements, you know.

"This has to be like that in every position in the team, we have to understand that whoever is playing it's because the manager thinks he's better for the team in that moment and the most important thing is the team.

"I think everyone is happy for Luke to win this Player of the Month award and I'm happy too because he deserves it, and I hope he can continue this form until the end of the season because he knows Alex is there to take his position."

Sunday's trip to City will see Fernandes go up against some familiar faces in Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva and Cancelo, all of whom are colleagues of his at international level with Portugal.

All three have enjoyed fine campaigns individually and, as a collective, have helped City embark on a club-record winning streak of 21 games across all competitions.

Avoiding defeat again on Sunday will mean City are unbeaten in 29 matches, another new club record, and Fernandes made no secret of wishing his compatriots were not doing so well as a team.

"I speak with them regularly, we have a good relationship, but the relationships stay out of the game. They know me and they know that on the pitch we are not friends anymore," he said with a grin.

"At the same time I enjoy seeing them play and every one of them is doing well individually and I'm happy for them. As a team I was hoping to see them do a little bit worse than they are doing, but individually I am happy for them because they are good people and they deserve to be in the positions they are and playing in the way they are playing."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident Manchester United can halt Manchester City's astonishing 21-game winning run if they are at their very best at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

City look certain to regain the title and remain in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple following a run of 28 matches without defeat.

Third-placed United trail their neighbours by 14 points ahead of the derby and really need a repeat of their victories at the home of their rivals in the two previous visits if they are to have any chance of being crowned champions.

United boss Solskjaer has full faith that this side can stop City's record-breaking streak.

He told the club's official website: "We have to be the best possible Man United, no matter who plays on the other side.

"When we're the best possible Man United, I back my team in any game against any team. That's the key. Of course, they'll cause us problems, but we have to find the solution and try to give them other problems to worry about."

Solskjaer says the Red Devils can have no complaints about such a demanding schedule this season.

The former Norway striker added: "It's a challenge for the team. The most successful Man United teams over the years always used to have this.

"Maybe once in a while we'd get a midweek off, but we haven't and we haven't had any easy cup draws either to rest players. The only way to improve, get better and get used to this is to go through it.

"The players are getting more and more robust, physically and mentally, and I've been impressed by them and they recover [from games] really well.

"Of course, once in a while you don't really hit your best form, that's natural and we understand that.

"Everyone goes onto the pitch to do their best and now it's a derby and of course everyone is going to be fired up and any mental or physical fatigue is not going to come into play, that's for sure."

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