Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists his Manchester United side are up for the fight to catch Chelsea in the battle for a top-four finish after beating defending champions Manchester City at Old Trafford. United took the lead through a brilliant piece of imagination from Bruno Fernandes midway through the first half.
The Portugal international stepped up for a free-kick and cutely chipped over City’s defensive line for the onrushing Anthony Martial, who duly finished under the body of Ederson.
The Red Devils were then defending for most of the final hour left in the game as City looked for an equaliser.
But United’s defensive unit frustrated the likes of Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling as Pep Guardiola’s side failed to find a way through.
Pushing forward for an equaliser in the dying seconds left United open but it was a costly error from Ederson after he left the goal wide open having miss-kicked a clearance straight into the feet of Scott McTominay, who expertly placed his effort into the empty net.
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Old Trafford was bouncing at the final whistle with United moving back to within three points of Chelsea.
That final Champions League qualifying spot is proving to be one of the most interesting battles in the table with teams such as Wolves, Sheffield United Tottenham and Arsenal all still within a chance of clinching that fourth place.
United though fancy their chances with the win over City stretching their unbeaten run to 10 games in all competitions.
And Solskjaer insists the team is fully focussed on catching Frank Lampard’s side, with one eye also on Leicester in third.
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“With all the clean sheets we have been getting it’s impressive, we are getting better,” he said.
“With Brandon Williams and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the flanks we looked aggressive as a 3-5-2, but in the second half we were made to look more like a 5-4-1. City are so good on the ball, but we kept them at bay.
“At any moment they could score so I was always looking for a second goal. We had three chances to square with only the goalkeeper to beat. That’s one thing to improve – our decision-making – but we are learning.
“It’s a privilege to be their manager. They give absolutely everything. They know they are all good players but they want to learn as well.
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“We feel we are improving as a squad and a team. We feel the fans want us to do well and they see what we are doing, so it is getting better and better.
“But we are still fifth. We need points to catch Chelsea and Leicester, so need to keep plugging away.”
United return to action in the Europa League on Thursday night when they travel to Austria to take on LASK.
They will then have a quiz turnover with a crucial game against Tottenham on Sunday in what could prove vital in United’s hopes to clinch a top-four spot.
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