Manchester United moved within a point of the Champions League places on Sunday, as they recorded a 1-0 victory over cross-town rivals Manchester City. In a game of few real goalscoring chances, an excellent first half strike from teenage sensation Marcus Rashford made all of the difference.
City started the brighter of the two teams, and created the opening chance in the first few minutes. A chipped cross from Raheem Sterling found Jesús Navas at the back stick, though the Spaniard could only volley his effort wide of David de Gea's post. A few minutes later the United keeper was drawn into the first save of the match, getting down sharply to deny Navas from close range.
United's slow start only made it all the more enjoyable when they took the lead against the run of play after a quarter of an hour. Rashford took receipt of possession outside of the City box, before poking the ball through Martín Demichelis' legs with a burst of pace and curling a shot past Joe Hart in the one-on-one.
The opening goal served to galvanise United, and they almost added a second within moments: only a solid Hart stop kept Anthony Martial from capitalising on a clever Rashford assist. However, City remained dangerous, and Demichelis almost headed a David Silva free-kick into the back of the net soon after.
The game looked increasingly even as halftime approached, and tempers began to flare. United had reason to complain in stoppage time, when the referee turned down a very strong penalty appeal after the terrible Demichelis appeared to bring Rashford down in the box with an obvious barge.
The tone was set for an exciting second half, which United initially dominated. Demichelis' disastrous performance was, alas, brought to a premature conclusion when he was hauled off for Wilfried Bony soon after the restart, which not surprisingly coincided with heightened defensive security for the hosts.
That said, United's defence wasn't put under much pressure either. City went closest to scoring inside the final half hour, when a Yaya Touré cross was flicked against the post by Sergio Agüero. There were a couple of other half-chances, though for the most part, United's defence proved effective in keeping their hosts at bay.
With this win, United move level on points with fifth-placed West Ham United, only a point in arrears of City. The hopes of an unlikely Champions League qualification remain alive.