Manchester United fought back for a dramatic 2-1 win against Manchester City that left their arch-rivals fuming over a controversial VAR decision to allow Bruno Fernandes’ equaliser, while troubled Liverpool crashed to a shock 3-0 defeat at Brighton on Saturday.
On a dramatic day of Premier League action, Everton boss Frank Lampard was pushed closer to the sack as his struggling side were beaten 2-1 by relegation rivals Southampton.
With just 12 minutes left at Old Trafford, United were trailing to Jack Grealish’s 60th minute header in the season’s second Manchester derby.
But City’s title defence suffered a damaging blow as Portugal midfielder Fernandes equalised in hugely debatable fashion before Marcus Rashford bagged United’s 82nd minute winner.
Fernandes’ goal was the turning point and City boss Pep Guardiola and his players were seething after the flag went up for offside when Rashford ran on to Casemiro’s pass.
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Rashford did not touch the ball and was deemed by VAR not to have interfered with play, but City were adamant the England forward clearly distracted the defenders and goalkeeper Ederson.
“The first goal is a joke that it can be allowed,” City defender Manuel Akanji told BBC Sport.
“He runs for 30 metres, he’s chasing the ball. In the situation, I played him (Rashford) offside. I understand he doesn’t touch the ball, but for me it is clearly offside.”
Guardiola insisted there was no doubt Rashford’s run impacted the reactions of Akanji and Ederson.
“The decision is the referee’s, the VAR, but our defenders make a line for Rashford,” he said.
“If we know it’s Fernandes we don’t make the line, we follow the action, and after the action the interference for Ederson.”
Third placed United are now just one point behind second placed City, who are in danger of losing substantial ground in the title race this week.
A win for leaders Arsenal at north London rivals Tottenham on Sunday would put 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 may dream but we are not. We have improved, that is obvious. There is still a long way to go.”