MANCHESTER – Success for Manchester United these days is being the spoiler as Manchester City goes on to eventually claim the league titles.
City manager Pep Guardiola's pursuit of a world-record winning streak ended after United won the derby 2-0 on Sunday.
A penalty won after 36 seconds when Gabriel Jesus tripped Anthony Martial was converted by Bruno Fernandes, and Luke Shaw netted five minutes into the second half to end City's 21-match winning run in all competitions.
“Scoring in the first minute is perfect," Fernandes said after scoring his 17th penalty in 13 months at United, “because City have to try a little bit more, we have more space to counter and the big threat we have is the counter.”
The complexion of the Premier League has drastically changed since City's last defeat 106 days earlier at Tottenham left the team in 11th place — eight points behind the London club at the top.
After a club-record 28 matches unbeaten, losing now is more a matter of pride for City as well as missing out on catching the mark of 27 consecutive wins set by Welsh side The New Saints in 2016. City has not only climbed to the summit but built a lead that meant its second-placed neighbor only trimmed the gap to 11 points with victory at the Etihad Stadium.
“Today we lost and we will be the news, but the news is 21 victories in a row," Guardiola said. “This result is going to help us a lot to understand how difficult it is. We knew it, but sometimes you have to not win one game to realize and the next one is important."
With such a commanding lead and only 10 games remaining, United has probably only just delayed the moment City dethrones Liverpool as champion. Just like three years ago when Jose Mourinho's derby win prevented City sealing the title that April day.