Manchester United’s narrow victory over fierce rivals Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium will rank as one of the sweetest moments of Louis van Gaal’s reign.
Boy wonder Marcus Rashford scored the winner in the first half in a result that will now spark fears for City’s quest to provide Champions League football for incoming manager Pep Guardiola.
For Van Gaal, much has been said and written about his team’s poor performances but the Dutchman will now be confident of ending his second season at the club on a high.
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Here are three other fine moments of Van Gaal’s reign and memories the former Bayern Munich manager can hold on to if he leaves the club in the summer.
LIVERPOOL 1-2 MANCHESTER UNITED
Few expected United to win at Anfield last season given the way Brendan Rodgers’ side were mounting a late bid to finish in the top four.
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However, Juan Mata struck a sensational brace to give United all three points and signal the start of their successful attempt to qualify for the Champions League.
His first goal was a straightforward finish past Simon Mignolet, but his second was an acrobatic effort that would later be voted as the club’s goal of the season.
Daniel Sturridge struck a late consolation for the Reds on a day where Steven Gerrard was dismissed, with United claiming all three points in the fixture for the first time since 2012.
MANCHESTER UNITED 4-2 MANCHESTER CITY
Nothing quite beats derby day and, having lost the game against City earlier in the season, United exacted their revenge with a brilliant display at Old Trafford last year.
Sergio Aguero opened the scoring for Pellegrini’s side, but goals from Marouane Fellaini, Ashley Young and Mata gave Van Gaal’s side a commanding lead.
It was stretched to three goals when Chris Smalling sent a bullet header flying past Joe Hart though the lead was cut in the closing stages with Aguero doubling his tally for the afternoon.
The victory meant United went four points clear of their city rivals, but Pellegrini’s men would respond to finish above Van Gaal’s side at the end of the season.
MANCHESTER CITY 0-1 MANCHESTER UNITED
Despite losing three of their previous five games, many expected City to ease past United given the way they tamely exited the Europa League during the week.
But what Pellegrini’s men did not count on was Rashford, with the youngster ending his goal drought of five games to score the winner in his first ever derby appearance.
City threatened through Sergio Aguero on numerous occasions, but the defensive rearguard led by Smalling stood tall to claim an important victory.
How important is something that will only be clear once the season ends in May.
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