United shrugged off an early set back to outplay their neighbours and run out overwhelming winners in a Manchester derby for the first time in far too long. It’s hard to imagine a better illustration of the contrast between United in April 2015 and that limply seeing out the season this time last year. Not only did heads not drop after city opened the scoring, Van Gaal’s United simply took it as their cue to step up a gear and run rampant over the champions, who were quickly outclassed by United’s pace and composure on the ball. Young and Fellaini, who this time last year looked extremely likely not even to be at Old Trafford by now, once more turned in excellent team performances as the Reds opened up a four point lead over city in the most convincing manner possible.
City looked to belie their poor form of late by starting the brighter of the two sides and there were several frantic, last-ditch defensive interventions from United before the visitors took the lead in the eight minute, Silva getting behind the defence and slipping in a simple cross for Aguero to score with a tap-in.
Fortunately, United were on their toes quickly in response and it didn’t take long for an equaliser to come, although its genesis was indirect to say the least. Following a dreadful free kick from Mata, De Gea was forced to come off his line to deny Navas after an equally terrible back-pass. His clearance, however, found Herrera on the left via the head of Fellaini and his ball into the box allowed Young to stab home decisively.
United were looking far more settled at that point and Young was involved again when the Reds went ahead in the 27th minute. The winger exchanged passes with Blind on the left before delivering a perfect cross to find the head of Fellaini at the back post and the Belgian made no mistake to give United a lead that they rarely looked in any danger of losing.
Another Belgian, Vincent Kompany, looked fortunate to stay on the field after what appeared a clear red car challenge on Blind. The city captain was forced off at half-time through injury anyway as United’s dominance of the game continued into the second half. The Reds almost extended their lead when, after a Rooney free kick had been saved by Hart, a goalmouth scramble ensued in which two further United shots found city players in the way.
Soon after, a superb United build-up ended with Young failing to get sufficient power on his header and another chance went begging. It only seemed a matter of time, however, before the third goal eventually came and it duly arrived when a clever ball from Rooney found a run from Mata, whose cool finish allowed the Spaniard to add a goal against city to those two memorable Anfield goals.
It didn’t stop there. Chris Smalling got his head to a Young free kick to give United a deserved fourth goal. Unfortunately, having used all their subs, an injury forced the Reds to go down to ten when the again influential Michael Carrick was forced off the pitch through injury. The worrying longer-term implications of that was the afternoon’s one downside. In the shorter term, Aguero was able to grab his second and a consolation goal for city, but by that point there was nothing he or his side could do to take the gloss off yet another memorable afternoon for Manchester United.