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November 02, 2014

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Sergio Aguero's second-half goal earned Manchester City a 1-0 victory over 10-man Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday, taking the team's winning run in the derby to four games.

United played with 10 men from the 39th minute after center back Chris Smalling's sending-off, and Aguero broke down stubborn resistance from the visitors' makeshift defense when he turned in Gael Clichy's cross in the 63rd.

City survived some nervy late moments to end a three-match winless run in all competitions and stay six points behind unbeaten leader Chelsea. After 10 games, United is 13 points off Chelsea and in ninth place.

The blue half of Manchester has won four straight derbies in the league for the first time since 1969-70 and owns the league's top scorer in Aguero, who has 10 goals in 10 games.

Smalling's red card was a turning point in a typically frenetic, high-tempo match, although City had already taken command by that point with United goalkeeper David de Gea saving twice from Aguero and also point blank from Jesus Navas in a three-minute spell.

Booked needlessly in the 31st for impeding an out-of-hand clearance by goalkeeper Joe Hart, Smalling dived into a challenge on James Milner eight minutes later and knew what was coming from referee Michael Oliver.

United has been in a defensive mess all season but by the end of the first half, it had a back four containing two midfielders — substitute Michael Carrick, brought on as a center-back replacement, and Antonio Valencia — and two offseason signings in Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw.

The visitors survived until halftime, somewhat fortunately as last man Rojo appeared to foul Yaya Toure in the final seconds. But their situation became even more critical at the start of the second half when Rojo was carried off on a stretcher with a shoulder injury in the 55th following a challenge with Martin Demichelis. He was replaced by 19-year-old Paddy McNair to give the defense an even more unfamiliar look.

It was always going to be a struggle for United to hold out and Aguero was not to be denied.

A searching pass from Toure found Clichy — a last-minute call-up after Aleksandar Kolarov picked up an injury in the warmup — and the left-back's cut-back from the byline was steered in by Aguero, who moved beyond Diego Costa as the league top scorer.

It was only then that United started to create chances, with Angel Di Maria bringing a sprawling save from Joe Hart and Marouane Fellaini heading wide when meeting a cross from Di Maria.

Navas struck the post at the other end but it was United pressing more when the full-time whistle was blown.

Despite a summer spending spree of about $250 million, United has half the points of Chelsea and is nearer the bottom three than the top three.

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