Men's Team

Vassell and James sound salute to City's derby set piece special

Vassell and James sound salute to City's derby set piece special
Darius Vassell and David James believe the manner and execution of City’s stunning set piece third goal in Sunday’s emphatic 4-1 win over Manchester United epitomised a dominant derby display.

With Pep Guardiola’s side 2-1 ahead at the Etihad thanks a Kevin De Bruyne first half brace, City were awarded a 68th minute corner and conjured up a brilliant passage of play straight off the CFA training field.

Supplied – inevitably – by the gifted boot of De Bruyne - the Belgian delivered a pinpoint corner to the edge of the United box for Riyad Mahrez to direct a sweetly struck half-volley – via a slight deflection off Harry Maguire – past David De Gea to extend City’s lead.

With Mahrez then adding a fourth on 90 minutes to take his own tally of goals for the season to 21, it sealed the derby deal and extended our lead at the top of Premier League to six points.

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And for former City and England duo Vassell and James – who were our special guests on Matchday Live – that first Mahrez strike summed up a day to remember.

“The third goal was really well worked. The corner went in and I’m thinking where is he kicking it? They worked the ball to Mahrez and the technique was what I was most impressed with,” said former City striker Vassell.

“When you are not on your game you tend to lash at these things and try and power it into the net.

“But he side footed it as if it were a pass to a team-mate into the corner of the goal.

“Yes, it took a deflection, but the fact that he went with control meant that he could put enough power on the ball to get it to the destination and it was a great time for City to score I think.”

Former City and England keeper James was equally taken with the effort, pointing to the planning and work that had gone into the ploy.

“If you look, KDB gestured to John Stones to run into the six-yard box and it drew a few United players,” added James.

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“Then the ball goes out and it’s like ‘OK’ but then Laporte ducks out of the way to allow Mahrez to shoot and all of that had to be perfectly organised and in synchronisation and it was.

“Yes, there was a little deflection but the quality of the strike, the quality of the ball out in the first place…

“You work on the training field for that special corner and the amount of times it doesn’t work, so for the time it does like on Sunday it is perfect.

“That’s 3-1 and that is the game pretty much done. It was absolutely perfect.”

One other facet of City’s display that earned the duo’s universal praise was City’s incredible work rate.

To a man the City players’ commitment to the cause was exemplary with Bernardo Silva alone covering 12.8km – more than any other player in either Manchester derby this season.

“City’s work rate was insane,” Vasell added.

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“The players work to get back into positions for each other and whenever you work that hard and get that result it means you are motivated even more for the next game.”

“It’s all the other things around work rate too,” James continued.

“The position of players and when everyone is on the same page you get performances like that.”

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