Manchester City humiliated Manchester United 3-1 at Old Trafford to put themselves in the driving seat of their Carabao Cup semi-final.
The Citizens became the first team to score three first-half goals away to United since 1997 and simply need to avoid a second-leg collapse to book themselves another Wembley final.
If anything, United had reason to feel the more confident side after winning the two clubs’ only Premier League meeting this season at the Etihad Stadium.
On that occasion, Fred dropped one of his best displays in a United shirt, but his disappointing goal-scoring record continued with a desperate misfire during the opening exchanges this time.
And there was no such complacency from City as they took the lead through a wonderful strike from Bernardo Silva.
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Quick-fire three goals
The Portuguese, who was in Ballon d’Or contention last year, ended a two-month drought in front of goal by smashing home a sensational strike past David de Gea from fully 20 yards.
It clearly alleviated the pressure from Pep Guardiola’s men, too, as they proceeded to double their lead after the half-hour mark and this team Silva inherited the role of provider.
Riyad Mahrez made a break behind the United backline, rounded De Gea and finished into an open net after Victor Lindelof was caught woefully out of position.
Then, things got even worse for United as their city rivals launched a deadly counterattack, which culminated in Kevin De Bruyne sitting down Phil Jones with the simplest of skills.
His resulting shot was deflected away by De Gea, but it ricocheted into the feet of Andreas Pereira and the academy project duly put through his own net. 3-0 before half-time; seriously.
United emerged from the break with a little more volition – Brandon Williams opening up with a rare shot on target – but City quickly traded back as Mahrez struck the upright from a title angle.
Rashford pulls one back
However, hope eventually arrived in the 70th minute as Marcus Rashford, so often Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s saviour, pulled one back for the Red Devils.
The club’s top scorer found the bottom corner with a tidy finish after picking up the ball from Mason Greenwood, but it ultimately proved the last goal on the night.
The Red Devils will now travel to the Etihad on January 29 in need of a miraculous comeback to book themselves in the final of a competition they last won in 2017.
‘#OleOut’ trending on Twitter
However, whether or not Solskjaer will be in the dugout for the second leg remains to be seen, because United fans are growing increasingly impatient with their manager.
In fact, that was the case to such an extent that ‘#OleOut’ started trending on Twitter in the United Kingdom with over 8,000 posts in the matter of a few hours.
The Norwegian will certainly have to keep everything crossed when comments like ‘Get this s*** out of my club, f***ing clueless’ are being bounded about on social media.