After Rashford was found not to be interfering with play despite plainly being in an offside position, Bruno Fernandes equalized in the 78th minute.
Although Rashford advanced towards the ball as it was passed through, he did not touch it and thus was not offside until Fernandes scored.
It caused furious protestations from City players both after the goal was awarded by VAR and after the final whistle, with Rashford’s winner from Alejandro Garnacho’s cross minutes later bringing United to within one point of Pep Guardiola’s side.
Casemiro delivered a pass in behind the City defense from the right side, prompting several of the home side’s forwards to follow it, with Rashford obviously offside in his pursuit.
The forward appeared to be poised to grab onto the pass but instead stayed beside it, smartly ensuring that he did not get a touch on it to keep the play alive.
As a result of his involvement, both Manuel Akanji and Kyle Walker were pulled to an oncoming England forward, allowing Bruno Fernandes to steal a march and wind up on the receiving end of the ball.
Rashford passed the ball to Fernandes, who converted emphatically past Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson, who was sprinting off his line to close down the 25-year-old.
After playing a key role in the first goal’s setup, Rashford scored the second to make it nine consecutive games with a goal at Old Trafford.
He showed wonderful poise to finish inside the six-yard box from Garnacho’s cross over the penalty area to make it 2-1, and United held on for a remarkable derby victory from a losing position.
As a result, United is now only one point behind City and six points behind leaders Arsenal, who have a game in hand on both Manchester clubs.
Following the game, Pep Guardiola argued that Rashford’s role harmed his defenders, saying: ‘Marcus Rashford is offside, Bruno Fernandes is not. Rashford diverted the attention of our goalkeeper and center defenders. That’s all there is to it. We know where we’re going to play. The referees have a difficult job in large stadiums.’
And United manager Erik ten Hag stated that the rule made it easy to understand his opponent’s stance on the matter.
‘I can see it from the other side,’ he continued. The rules, it’s a tricky moment for the opponent’s back line. Marcus did not touch the ball and was not interfering, according to the rules. Bruno approached from behind, but I can see him from the other side.’
And fans and experts were eager to express their thoughts on the goal, with the great majority of viewers emphasizing that the wrong judgment was ultimately made.
‘That goal has to be offside,’ Chris Perry said, adding that if Rashford isn’t there, Kyle Walker challenges Fernandes. Walker returns to goal as Rashford appears to be preparing to fire.
‘Manchester United wonderful result, but they get away with it like they have over the years with rulings going for them at Old Trafford,’ Chris Sutton agreed.
‘Rashford must be tampering with the game. In that situation, any defender in the world would expect Rashford to be called offside…’
‘I hope in this new era of transparency PGMOL admits they’ve got that wrong,’ wrote Richard Keys. Rashford has an impact on the game simply by being present.
‘Akanji comes to a halt. Rashford defends the ball. It’s incorrect. It’s absurd to claim he didn’t touch the ball. The city should be upset.’
Another fan was clearly irritated by the decision, writing: ‘Walker and Akanji slow down because Rashford is in their way. Rashford is on the wrong side. HORRIBLE choice.’
Another chose to see the lighter side of things, saying, ‘That’s an offside, lol, but I’m not complaining. Rashford was clearly offside, and he had an impact on the flow of play.’
‘We can banter, but Rashford was OFFSIDE,’ said a third. Man United was LUCKY. The goal altered the tone of the game.’
According to a fourth Twitter account, the goal should not have counted since Rashford was protecting the ball after coming from an offside position. The laws state unequivocally that the goal should not have stood.’
‘The purpose was a pass to Rashford who was clearly offside, Rashford blatantly interfered with the play, amazing,’ said a fifth, followed by a laughing emoji.