MANCHESTER, England (AP) — It was a very good day for Manchester United, whose revival under Erik ten Hag is really taking shape.
As if victory against Manchester City in the 189th Manchester derby wasn’t enough for fans rejoicing at Old Trafford on Saturday, there was bonus news a few hours later when Liverpool was stunned by Brighton 3-0 in the English Premier League.
Beating City 2-1 strengthened the rising belief that Ten Hag is turning the fortunes around for the 20-time English champion.
It might be too soon for the Dutchman to mount a genuine league title challenge this season, but the improvement at United to record nine straight wins in all competitions is evident.
United is up to third on the table — a point behind City and six off leader Arsenal, which plays Tottenham on Sunday.
“We improved, that’s obvious,” Ten Hag said. “Still a long way to go . . . a lot of aspects in our game we have to improve, but we’re progressing.”
City took the lead in the second half through substitute Jack Grealish, but Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford secured a come-from-behind win for the home team.
United was 10 points clear of its fiercest rival Liverpool, which suffered a sixth league loss at Brighton, and first there since 1961.
Solly March scored twice and substitute Danny Welbeck added a third for Brighton.
Jurgen Klopp’s team faces a fight just to qualify for the Champions League after this latest blow, which left Liverpool seven points off fourth-placed Newcastle.
“Everything went wrong from the start to the end. Brighton were better than us in all departments. It’s a real low point as a team,” Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said. “It’s a tough moment but we need to get together, stay together, and try to change things quickly. We have to try to learn and show a reaction.”
At the bottom of the table, Southampton followed up its win against City in the League Cup in midweek by beating Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park.
Nottingham Forest boosted its chances of survival by beating Leicester 2-0, and Wolverhampton Wanderers topped West Ham 1-0 to move out of the relegation zone.
RASHFORD TOUGHENS UP
Marcus Rashford scored his 16th goal of the season and his eighth in his last seven games, but Ten Hag preferred to praise his physical durability over his finishing after the win against City,
“He knows that in football you have to suffer and sacrifice and have painful moments, especially a player like he is,” Ten Hag said. ”He is unstoppable, and opponents will go tough against him but he keeps going and he got rewarded and the team got a reward.”
DE ZERBI PRAISE
Two-goal Solly March credited Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi for his performance in the brilliant result against Liverpool.
“I love playing for Roberto de Zerbi. He’s great. He puts his arm around you and tells you you’re a good player and maybe that’s what I needed,” March said.
EVERTON TROUBLES GROW
On a day when Everton’s board of directors was instructed not to attend its home match with Southampton because of a “real and credible threat to their safety and security,” the team’s hopes of league survival took another blow after a 2-1 loss.
“We have to take responsibility, myself first. We have to do better,” Everton manager Frank Lampard said.
FOREST IS FLYING
Nottingham Forest has lost just one of its last six league games and is five points clear of the relegation zone after dispatching Leicester.
“It’s a big win. It is a local derby and you always want to do well for the supporters,” Forest manager Steve Cooper said.
WEST HAM SINKING
West Ham dropped into the bottom three after losing at fellow relegation struggler Wolverhampton 1-0.
“What we’ve found this year is that we can’t finish the chances when we get them,” West Ham manager David Moyes said.
TONEY STRIKES AGAIN
Ivan Toney scored his 14th goal of the season in Brentford’s 2-0 win against Bournemouth. The striker converted a first half-penalty, which continued his perfect record from the spot for the Bees, with 21 scored from 21 attempts.