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Kelechi Fails To Lift City In Manchester Derby

Youngster fails to re-enact last month’s magic against Crystal Palace

Nigeria youth international, Kelechi Iheanacho, failed to reproduce his magic of last month in Sunday’s Manchester Derby between his Manchester United and his club Manchester City, which ended goalless at Old Trafford.

Kelechi, it will be recalled, had last month came in as a late substitute for City in a home game against Crystal Palace and as the game looked like ending in a stalemate, the youngster pulled the chestnut out of the fire by scoring the match winner for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

The scenario almost repeated itself on Sunday as Pelle, apparently looking for a game-changer, chose to withdraw Wilfried Bony for Kelechi in the 83 minute. However, this did not pay off with both Manchester clubs failing to break the deadlock in a game that yielded only two shots on target.

The point was enough to return City to the Premier League summit on goal difference above Arsenal, with United two points back in fourth place.

City had made lightning-fast starts on their two previous visits to Old Trafford — a 3-0 win in their 2013-14 title-winning season and a 4-2 defeat last April — but it was United who imposed themselves here.

Perhaps mindful of the joy that Sevilla had found on the flanks during their 2-1 Champions League defeat at City on Wednesday, United looked to move the ball wide quickly, with Antonio Valencia — preferred to Matteo Darmian at right-back — squandering two early crossing chances.

Martial again lined up wide on the left for the hosts and he offered a threat each time he took possession, drawing fouls from Fernandinho and City skipper Vincent Kompany that each yielded bookings.

At the other end, Raheem Sterling had a shot blocked by Phil Jones, while as the half drew to a close Yaya Toure saw a freekick deflected off-target and then headed wide from the ensuing corner.

Wayne Rooney, playing the day after his 30th birthday, did not get a sniff up front for United and was required to leave the pitch for treatment after a clash of heads with Kompany, who returned to City’s starting XI after six weeks out with a calf injury.

United reached half-time having failed to register a single attempt at goal, but they quickly set about rectifying that in the second period.

United belatedly tested Hart in the 88th minute, but the England goalkeeper showed sharp reflexes to claw away Smalling’s shot from Fellaini’s knockdown.

–   Oladipo Okubanjo with Agency Report

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