MANCHESTER, England — Pep Guardiola got the better of old rival Jose Mourinho as Manchester City used a fast start to beat Manchester United 2-1 in an early-season clash of the Premier League title favorites on Saturday.
Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho set each other up for goals in the first 36 minutes, during which Guardiola’s City team gave a footballing clinic in passing and movement at Old Trafford.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic replied for United in the 42nd minute, volleying home after City debutant Claudio Bravo dropped a cross, to set up a thrilling second half of furious, end-to-end action during which De Bruyne struck the post.
City ended United’s winning start to the season with its fourth straight victory and it will be the sweetest of them all for Guardiola, coming at the expense of Mourinho in the latest instalment of their coaching rivalry.
Mourinho said United’s “bad” first half cost his team.
“What I told them at halftime was that for some of you, it looked like you are trying to do what I told you not to do,” Mourinho said. “Some of the boys, they felt the dimension of the game. Everything around the game: the derby, the big game, the focus, the attention. Some of the guys, they felt it.”
After three years of bitterness and spats in their years in Spanish football with Real Madrid and Barcelona, Mourinho and Guardiola have established a cordial relationship now they are together in the same city in England.
Guardiola greeted Mourinho with a handshake and a hug before kickoff. Then his team set about delivering a footballing lesson to United in the first half.
And much of it was instigated by a player jettisoned by Mourinho in the coach’s days at Chelsea.
De Bruyne was at the heart of City’s dominant start that showcased the team’s technical prowess and movement that is the hallmark of Guardiola’s teams down the years. Dovetailing with fellow playmaker David Silva in central midfield, De Bruyne kept finding space to hurt United with his strong running and through balls.
“Kevin had an amazing, amazing game,” Guardiola said.
The Belgium midfielder also showed a clinical side, running onto Iheanacho’s flick-on from a long clearance to poke the ball past Daley Blind and beat goalkeeper David de Gea from the edge of the area.
Wayne Rooney was among the United players looking off the pace and frustration got to the United captain when he gave Guardiola a little push as he attempted to take the ball off the City manager, who was holding onto the ball at a United throw-in.
De Bruyne was the provider for Iheanacho’s goal, finding space in United’s area to drift on to his left foot and drive a low shot against the post. The ball rebounded out to Iheanacho, a replacement for the suspended Sergio Aguero, to sidefoot into the net from six meters out.
Ibrahimovic’s reply settled United — and it sprang from an error from Bravo, who dropped Rooney’s free kick while being impeded by his own defender John Stones. Ibrahimovic was clinical with his reaction, volleying first time into the net from just inside the area.
Mourinho mixed things up for the second half, throwing on Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera and later Anthony Martial and taking a more direct approach in search of an equalizer, but City still looked more dangerous on the counter-attack and De Bruyne nearly restored the two-goal cushion when he ran onto Leroy Sane’s pass and shot against the inside of the post.
It was Guardiola’s eighth win in 17 meetings with Mourinho, who has won only once against his rival in their last 10 head-to-heads.
“We go to one of the best stadiums in the world and win the game,” Guardiola said. “These guys have heart.”