MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Manchester City’s relentless march towards the Premier League title was interrupted as their 21-match winning streak in all competitions was ended by a surprise 2-0 home defeat to rivals Manchester United on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola’s side could have few complaints as a second-minute penalty converted by Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw’s fine finish early in the second half earned United a surprise win.
While City still lead the table by 11 points with 10 games left, second-placed United showed there are chinks in the armour of Guardiola’s side as they ended a disappointing run of results against the so-called big six.
Victory for United put them in a reasonably healthy position in their quest to ensure a top-four finish as they are eight points ahead of fifth-placed Everton who play fourth-placed Chelsea on Monday at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool’s horrendous run of form continued as they lost a sixth successive home league game — this time 1-0 against relegation battlers Fulham — to drop to eighth.
Ordinarily Fulham’s first win at Anfield since 2012, sealed by Mario Lemina’s goal on the stroke of halftime, would have been a huge shock but such is Liverpool’s current malaise it became just another sad statistic for the crumbling champions.
“This team is an extreme team. We were extremely successful and now we have an extreme situation as well but we will fight through,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said.
Fulham’s win moved them level on points with 17th-placed Brighton and Hove Albion and only one point behind Newcastle United, who could only manage a 0-0 draw with second-from-bottom West Bromwich Albion.
“It’s a big win. There’s a lot of emotion and I am very proud,” Fulham boss Scott Parker said.
Gareth Bale and Harry Kane combined in exhilarating fashion with two goals apiece in Tottenham Hotspur’s 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace to move into sixth spot, two points behind Chelsea. Kane claimed assists for both of Bale’s goals taking his total for the season to 13, as well as his 16 goals.
“He’s fantastic, an incredible striker. He showed that again tonight. It was a fantastic performance again from him and we are lucky to have him here,” Bale who has scored six goals in his last six games, said of the Tottenham skipper.
Manchester United had not beaten any of the so-called “big six” this season until Sunday, but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is starting to become something of a nemesis for his City counterpart Pep Guardiola after a fourth derby victory since he took over at Old Trafford in December 2018.
City were stunned after 34 seconds when referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot after Gabriel Jesus brought down Anthony Martial just inside the box and Fernandes converted.
Shaw drove home United’s second and despite loads of possession City could not penetrate United’s red wall.
Fernandes said United had not given up hope of reeling in City. “The league is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. We have to do our best and not think about others,” he said.
Guardiola was generous in his assessment of his cross-city rivals. “It was a fantastic game. United make incredibly high pressing and they are so fast on the counter. We played good. Unfortunately we couldn’t be clinical up front so we congratulate United,” he said.
“We will be the news because we lost. But the news is 21 victories in a row. There are still 30 points to play for and we have to start to win again.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)