Manchester City’s title defense is imploding in a way Pep Guardiola has never experienced before.
Losing 2-1 to Manchester United left City with 32 points in the Premier League — Guardiola’s lowest haul after 16 matches in 11 years in top-flight management.
Any fading prospect of a hat-trick of titles looks to have been extinguished by City’s fiercest foe.
United tore apart City in the first half at the Etihad Stadium.
Marcus Rashford put them ahead from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute after being bundled over by Bernardo Silva. The second goal inside six minutes was created by a slick exchange of passes between Daniel James and Anthony Martial, who applied the final touch past goalkeeper Ederson.
City did not even manage a shot on target until the 34th, when United goalkeeper David de Gea denied David Silva.
Although Nicolas Otamendi’s header reduced the deficit in the 85th, City could not prevent United from claiming only a second away win of the season.
The derby defeat left City 14 points behind Liverpool after the leaders won 3-0 against AFC Bournemouth to nudge toward ending a 30-year championship drought.
“It is not realistic to think about catching up,” Guardiola said.
Second-place Leicester City are now the team to catch for City, but the 2016 champions had a chance to move six points ahead with a victory against Aston Villa, with that game to begin after press time last night.
Chelsea’s grip on fourth place weakened with a 3-1 loss at struggling Everton as Duncan Ferguson started his caretaker command with a signature success.
The goal of the day came for Tottenham Hotspur, when Son Heung-min scored a dazzling solo goal after running from one end of the field to the other in a 5-0 victory over Burnley for Jose Mourinho’s sixth-placed team.
Son’s mazy run before scoring Tottenham’s third goal reminded Mourinho of a goal scored by Brazil great Ronaldo.
“Even before this goal my son calls him ‘Sonaldo,’ and today he was Sonaldo Nazario,” Mourinho said. “The only thing that came to my mind was a goal where I had the honor to be sat next to Sir Bobby Robson in 1996 and Ronaldo Nazario scored a goal against Compostela from behind the halfway line and scored a very similar goal.”
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