Manchester United fought back for a dramatic 2-1 win over Manchester City that angered their arch-rivals with VAR’s controversial decision to allow Bruno Fernandes’ equaliser, while troubled Liverpool slumped to a shock 3-0 defeat at Brighton on Saturday.
In a dramatic day of Premier League action, Everton boss Frank Lampard was pushed close to the sack as his struggling side were beaten 2-1 by relegation rivals Southampton.
With just 12 minutes remaining at Old Trafford, United trailed with Jack Grealish’s 60th-minute header in the second Manchester derby of the season.
But City’s title defense suffered a devastating blow when Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes equalized in highly debatable fashion before Marcus Rashford grabbed United’s 82nd-minute winner.
Fernandes’ goal was the turning point and City boss Pep Guardiola and his players were fuming after the flag went up for offside when Rashford ran onto Casemiro’s pass.
Rashford did not touch the ball and was deemed by VAR not to have interfered with play, but City maintained that the England forward had clearly distracted the defenders and goalkeeper Ederson.
Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring the team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on January 14, 2023. | Photo Credit: AFP
“The first goal was a joke that it could be allowed,” City defender Manuel Akanji told BBC Sport.
“He’s running 30 meters, he’s chasing the ball. In the situation, I played him (Rashford) offside. I understand he’s not moving the ball, but for me it’s clearly offside.”
Guardiola insists there is no doubt that Rashford’s run affected the reactions of Akanji and Ederson.
“The decision is the referee, the VAR, but our defenders made a line for Rashford,” he said.
“If we know that Fernandes we are not making the line, we follow the action, and after the action the intervention for Ederson.”
Third-placed United are just a point behind second-placed City, who risk losing significant ground in the title race this week.
A win for leaders Arsenal at north London rivals Tottenham on Sunday would move the Gunners eight points clear.
While City splutter, United are in fine form following their ninth successive victory in all competitions.
Asked if they are in the title race, boss Erik ten Hag said: “The fans can dream, but not us. We have improved, obviously. We still have a long way to go.”
Sad Liverpool in ninth
Liverpool’s hopes of salvaging a top four finish from a difficult campaign suffered a major hit as Brighton triumphed on the south coast.
After dominating the first half without making a breakthrough, Brighton deservedly took the lead in the 47th minute.
Joel Matip carelessly conceded possession to Alexis Mac Allister and he found Kaoru Mitoma, whose cross was perfectly weighted for the unmarked Solly March to tap home.
Liverpool were in disarray and six minutes later, March crashed a fine finish into the far corner from just inside the area.
Danny Welbeck wrapped up the win, flicking March’s pass past Joe Gomez and volleying home.
Defeated by Brentford in their previous league game, Liverpool languish in eighth place, seven points adrift of the top four, and look a shadow of the team that nearly won the quadruple last term.
Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals Everton are in even more trouble after Southampton’s 2-1 win at Goodison Park.
Everton’s board of directors did not attend the game due to a “real and credible threat to their safety”.
Everton chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale was reportedly manhandled by a fan and had her car attacked after last week’s 4-1 home defeat to Brighton.
Everton have won just one of their last 13 matches in all competitions and banners and flags calling for the board to leave were unfurled before kick-off.
Southampton pulled one back in the 39th minute when Amadou Onana headed home from Demarai Gray’s corner.
But less than two minutes into the second half, James Ward-Prowse collected Che Adams’ knock-down on the edge of the area and drilled home Southampton’s equaliser.
Ward-Prowse inflicted more pain in the 78th minute when he curled one of his trademark free-kicks past Jordan Pickford.
Southampton remain bottom of the table but they are now only behind second bottom Everton on goal difference
West Ham filled the final spot in the bottom three after a 1-0 defeat at Wolves saw the hosts move above the hapless Hammers.
Daniel Podence netted in the 48th minute to leave West Ham without a win in their last seven league games.
Brennan Johnson struck twice as Nottingham Forest beat midlands rivals Leicester 2-0 at the City Ground.