Manchester United’s defence was exposed by a rampant Manchester City in a one sided first half performance at Old Trafford.

United maintained some credibility with an improved second half display, in large part to Nemanja Matic coming on to steady the ship.

The makeshift defensive partnership of Victor Lindelöf and Phil Jones was really poor.

Harry Maguire’s reputation was enhanced without him even playing.

The £80 million man is not perfect, and critics are keen to point out his faults. But he was badly missed last night.

(Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Organiser

City’s opening goal was from a moment of magic from Bernardo. But he was able to pick his spot in the top corner because nobody was closing him down.

Maguire is a lot sharper to those situations and he would likely have been out quicker to the advancing City man.

The second goal was a real mess. Victor Lindelöf made a weak clearance, and then got back too slowly, and Phil Jones offered little resistance.

Maguire may have been able to mop up Lindelöf’s mistake had he been on the pitch.

City’s third goal saw United caught on the counter, and Jones dived in on Kevin de Bruyne instead of standing up to him.

 

Maguire is a leader, and an organiser, and he would have helped United out last night had he been fit.

(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Imperfect, but improved

City were very good last night, and we are not saying Maguire would have kept a clean sheet.

But he almost certainly would have prevented United from conceding three, and we would be entering the second leg with more of a chance.

It was unfortunate that United had Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo also out injured.

Phil Jones was the bottom of the barrel in terms of United’s options, but Victor Lindelöf was just as poor.

Between them, the pair managed to highlight just how important Harry Maguire is to United’s backline.

His performances this season have been taken for granted at times.

Sometimes you don’t notice what you have until it’s gone. And United without Maguire for one game was not a pretty sight.

He’s not perfect, but he’s the best we have. And his reputation was enhanced last night without him even playing.

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