Sunday 25 August 2019

City underline their superiority

Leicester City 0-2 Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne scores the second goal for Manchester City Photo: REUTERS/Darren Staples
Kevin De Bruyne scores the second goal for Manchester City Photo: REUTERS/Darren Staples

Paul Wilson

Hard to believe now that Manchester City lost this fixture 4-2 a year ago, putting in a shambolic performance that fatally undermined any pretensions they might have had of a title challenge.

Pep Guardiola's side arrived here 18 points ahead of the Foxes and deservedly increased the gap to 21 with an impressive display of control, even with two centre-halves who were rusty through lack of games. Leicester City did not play badly; they might have taken something from the game against most opponents, but the whole point about Manchester City these days is that they are not any old opponents.

Leicester City's Christian Fuchs in action with Manchester City's Raheem Sterling Photo: Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
Leicester City's Christian Fuchs in action with Manchester City's Raheem Sterling Photo: Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

This was their 10th league win in a row, their 16th of an all-competition sequence, and it could have been even more emphatic, with Leroy Sané in particular finding space and running past defenders at will. When Pep the perfectionist puts together his weekly mistake compilation for training ground analysis he will probably point to a couple of occasions in the second half when his side were grateful to see offside flags raised against Jamie Vardy, but will mostly be wanting to know why his forwards did not finish with the sort of precision they showed in their build-ups.

Making his first start in more than two months, Vincent Kompany was nearly in trouble after a couple of minutes for a professional foul on Vardy. The home fans clearly felt Graham Scott took the easy option in producing just a yellow card, for although it was hardly the clearest of goalscoring opportunities, it was just the sort of chance Vardy thrives on.

In what was turning out to be a busy return for the Manchester City captain, Kompany almost turned the ball past his own goalkeeper in cutting out a cross from Riyad Mahrez moments later.

The first real goal chance arrived midway through the first half, when Kasper Schmeichel had to be alert to tip a David Silva shot over his bar.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola Photo: REUTERS/Darren Staples
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola Photo: REUTERS/Darren Staples

A Manchester City backline already missing the suspended Nicolas Otamendi was further depleted on the half-hour, when John Stones had to come off with a hamstring injury. The England defender pulled up in evident pain after chasing the elusive Demarai Gray down the left, and was replaced by Eliaquim Mangala, making only his second league appearance of the season. Guardiola was worried about the pace in Leicester's frontline even before he lost both his first-choice central defenders, so a goal on the stroke of the interval must have come as a relief.

The only surprise about the opening goal was the identity of its scorer. Jesus had been having such an unproductive afternoon it was easy to forget he was on the pitch, but he popped up in exactly the right place to complete a neat passing move with a tap-in.

City underlined their superiority with a goal of real quality at the start of the second half, though one had to feel slightly sorry for Leicester, who effectively began the move when Harry Maguire saw a shot cleared off the line. Silva was the player who rescued his goalkeeper after Ederson had come out to make a half save, before Fernandinho moved the play swiftly upfield to De Bruyne, who accepted a return pass from Sané then shuffled the ball on to his left foot to beat Schmeichel with a glorious rising drive from outside the area.

Observer

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