MANCHESTER – Long after the final whistle blew, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Pep Guardiola stood on the touchline, arms wrapped around each other.
Deep in conversation, the managers of the Manchester rivals had a rare moment of respite in this chaotically congested season to debrief a derby that left United the victorious spoiler but City the only team with the Premier League trophy in its sights.
Manchester United's 2-0 victory on Sunday halted City's winning run at 21 matches in all competitions. Guardiola's side will have to settle for having the English record streak. The pursuit of the world-record 27-game mark is over.
The most important number to Guardiola is 11 — the points advantage City holds over second-place United.
City running away with the title seemed unimaginable in November when it lost to then-leader Tottenham. So too, perhaps, when it was United topping the standings less than 50 days ago.
United's challenge has crumbled but not as spectacularly as Liverpool's title defense.
A sixth successive home defeat — losing 1-0 to Fulham on Sunday — left Liverpool in eighth place. Champions by 18 points last season, Liverpool is now a remarkable 22 points behind City.
Even qualifying for the Champions League could be slipping from Liverpool's reach with Chelsea four points ahead in fourth ahead of Monday's match with fifth-place Everton.