It was another game to forget for the Red Devils, with braces and for Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez ensuring City took the three points, while Jadon Sancho netted for United.
It was a breathless opening 45 minutes at the Etihad, as United set up in an unorthodox 4-2-2-2 shape with Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani absent, and Ralf Rangnick opted to start with Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes up front.
But it was City who struck first when De Bruyne slotted home from inside the box after just five minutes. It was good build-up play from Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva that resulted in the latter crossing it to an unmarked Be Bruyne around 12 yards out.
Despite that setback, United responded well and were level not long after as ex-City man Sancho equalised following a breakaway from the visitors. At the edge of the area, Sancho cut inside and shimmied beyond Kyle Walker and John Stones before curling the ball past Ederson.
The open feel of the game led to plenty of chances at both ends, and Phil Foden clipped an effort off the crossbar, before the England international played a pivotal role to set up the Sky Blues’ second.
Foden flicked the ball beyond Victor Lindelof in the 28th minute and drove into the box, before shooting at goal. The ball was saved and after a quick second of pinball where Silva also had an effort blocked, it fell for De Bruyne to stroke home.
City remained on top for the rest of the first half, with Silva and Riyad Mahrez going close with efforts, while they should perhaps have had a penalty as Harry Maguire dragged back Foden in the box.
The Red Devils had offered a threat on the counter-attack, but that danger abated as the game continued, and City dominated in the opening 15 minutes of the second half.
However, it took until the 68th minute for Pep Guardiola’s men to net again, as De Bruyne picked out Mahrez at the edge of the box from a corner. The winger let the ball bounce and met it with his side foot on the half volley, and placed it superbly past David De Gea.
From there, it was easy for the champions, who retained possession with little fuss. Ilkay Gundogan and Mahrez produced good strikes which went wide, before City wrapped things up with another goal in the 90th minute, that was ruled onside after a lengthy VAR check.
Manchester City player ratings
The Sky Blues were by far the better side throughout the 90 minutes, even if they did have a spell in the first period where they weren’t quite pulling the strings as expected.
Perhaps there was even a little surprise at United’s shape, but after half an hour City took total control.
De Bruyne, Silva and even Grealish took advantage of the space in United’s midfield, and found ample room from which to launch devastating attacks.
By the end, it was routine for Guardiola’s side, who stroked the ball about with relative ease, as the Red Devils couldn’t get anywhere near it.
Ederson 6; Walker 7 , Stones 6, Laporte 6, Cancelo 7; Rodri 7, De Bruyne 9 (Gundogan 80), Silva 8; Mahrez 8, Foden 7, Grealish 8.
Manchester United player ratings
Another disappointing afternoon for United, who lose ground in the race for the Champions League spots.
The plan was clear from Rangnick who wanted to try and stretch City and take advantage of their high line, but it didn’t quite work as United were overrun in the middle and failed to launch enough attacks of their own.
There was also some shabby defending from the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof and Maguire. Fernandes also misplaced too many passes on a day he needed to be at his best.
De Gea 6, Wan-Bissaka 4, Lindelof 5, Maguire 4, Telles 5, Fred 5, McTominay 6; Elanga 6 (64;), Sancho 5; Pogba 6 (Linagrd 64;5) Fernandes 4.
Man of the Match
This was an easy choice, and De Bruyne put in one of his best performances of the campaign. He was direct with his runs, produced inch-perfect passes out wide and dictated the pace of proceedings at times. The two goals helped, and he put himself in a great position inside the box for both.