Rio Ferdinand highlights ‘big disruption’ that hurt Man Utd against Man City | Football

Jonny Evans impressed before coming off in the 69th minute at the Etihad (Picture: Getty)

Rio Ferdinand says Jonny Evans coming off proved a huge moment in the derby and a ‘big disruption’ to Manchester United as Manchester City ran out 3-1 winners at the Etihad.

United got off to the perfect start as Marcus Rashford hammered home a thunderous 25-yard strike into the top corner of Ederson’s goal to open the scoring in only the eighth minute.

The Red Devils managed to keep City at bay until the second half, with Erling Haaland missing a sitter from near point-blank range, before the Premier League champions equaliser through an inspired Phil Foden in the 56th minute.

Foden doubled his tally to put last year’s treble winners in front with ten minutes remaining and Haaland made up for his earlier miss to put the hosts out of sight in stoppage time.

The result meant City moved to within one point of league leaders Liverpool, while United remain down in sixth, 11 points adrift of fourth-placed Aston Villa in the table.

Erik ten Hag confirmed Evans was not ‘100 per cent fit’ in his post-match conference and Willy Kambwala came on to replace the veteran Northern Ireland international in the 69th minute, shortly before City took the lead.

Evans, starting in a Manchester derby for the first time since December 2012, put in an impressive performance alongside Raphael Varane at the back and Ferdinand believes his departure had a huge impact on the game.

Phil Foden celebrates with Erling Haaland

Foden and Haaland fired City to victory over the Red Devils (Picture: Getty)

‘Evans going off was a big disruption for our team because he’s a cool, calm, collected defender with experience,’ Ferdinand told Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE.

‘He’s pulling people about, he’s a communicator. He may not be the quickest or the most mobile but we saw against City, three or four times, he was the one putting himself in front of the ball to block shots, to block the pathway to goal.

‘The only time someone got past him, Haaland, was a free-kick on the edge of the box when Haaland rolled him but I think he was injured at that point.

Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand

Ferdinand defended Ten Hag’s cautious approach against United’s noisy neighbours (Picture: Getty)

‘That’s where we are. You look at it and you go, “Jonny Evans was probably one of our top three players today”.

‘If you said that at the start of the season he probably wouldn’t even have got a shirt and play in a Manchester derby.

‘I think he’s played in both derbies, chasing the best striker on the planet around.’

United remain in sixth place after City came from behind to seal all three points (Picture: Getty)

Ferdinand defended Ten Hag’s cautious approach, arguing that United have tried and failed to go ‘toe to toe’ with Pep Guardiola’s side in the past.

‘You can’t go toe to toe with them,’ the ex-United and England defender added.

We’ve tried that before and got beat, smashed off the park.

‘The manager was humble enough to say, “You know what? We have to sit on the back foot a little bit with a low block and try and hit them on the counter”, and that goal was a good example.

‘If you’ve got players who are quick and direct and play that ball quickly with some accuracy, you’re going to have a chance.

‘Marcus comes up with an out-of-this-world strike, a ridiculous strike.’

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