Kompany screamer keeps City in front
Manchester City 1 Leicester City 0
O Captain! My Captain! Vincent Kompany scored a remarkable goal, his first of the season, to drive Manchester City towards retaining the Premier League title.
Finally it comes down to this: if City win at Brighton on Sunday, they are champions. There is nothing Liverpool can then do to stop them.
Kompany's goal felt as precious to City as the one he scored back in 2012, the header against Manchester United, that helped bring them their first Premier League title and the 33-year-old led the wild celebrations of relief as they finally broke down Leicester City, who had made it such a fraught evening.
It was City's 100th goal at home in all competitions this season and they have scored few a fine as the powerful right-foot shot struck by the defender from fully 30 yards out. It was the first goal of his career scored from outside the box, and the strike of a man who doesn't want to end his career wondering 'what if?' He admitted the last few years, in which he has battled injury, have given him a shift in perspective.
"In the last years I've played every game as if it's the last game of my career. It takes a lot of hard work," he said. "Every game is potentially the last one, you never know. I don't know at this point but at least I made it count."
Asked whether he is contemplating retirement, Kompany added: "Absolutely not. I'm going to play football and I'm going to do exactly what I've done today for as long as I can."
City have made it 13 wins in a row in a league and a 14th will mean they finish ahead of Liverpool and become the first team to retain the title since United back in 2009. "We're Man City, we'll fight to the end," their fans sang as former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers urged Leicester on.
It was undeniably nervy and it was made more so by Leicester's clear threat. That was summed up by a smart move down their right in which James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira combined for the latter player to cut inside and create space for a low shot. Kompany threw himself to block it, with the ball rebounding off his back.
That was a warning and City heeded it as David Silva hacked down Youri Tielemans, earning a caution with a challenge that was probably a yellow-and-a-half, as the Belgian threatened to break.
Pep Guardiola had made one change from the team that had edged past Burnley. Phil Foden was brought in and City's first opportunity fell to him as he chested down Kyle Walker's dinked pass only to half-volley a shot straight into the arms of Kasper Schmeichel.
It was the arm of Jonny Evans that then exercised City as they demanded a penalty when Raheem Sterling tried to lift the ball past the defender. It struck him from close range but Mike Dean, the referee, waved play on.
Silva then brought down Maddison and suddenly the City midfielder was walking a tightrope - as it felt his team were, with the anxiety levels growing and home angst aimed at Dean.
It was the other Silva, Bernardo, who carried the threat and when he jinked his way past three Leicester defenders it lifted the mood. City won a corner and it was swung into the near post by Ilkay Gundogan where it was met by Sergio Aguero. He angled a header which struck the crossbar and bounced down but Schmeichel brilliantly pushed it away.
The frustration grew. City worked the ball from right to left, only for Sterling to be pulled up for offside, and Kompany was cautioned for a late challenge on Maddison. Leicester were tenacious, Wilfred Ndidi making four tackles in the first half plus four interceptions to add steel to their silk.
With the encouragement from the home fans becoming a little more desperate the laboured to eke out chances and Leicester stayed composed.
Guardiola even darted in front of a ballboy to try to hurry up the play, betraying his concern. An opportunity finally fell to Sterling, who could not jump high enough to keep the ball down as he stretched to head goalwards before Bernardo shot over. Guardiola turned to Leroy Sane as he replaced Foden, who had struggled.
The impetus was intensifying, the noise began to rise and Gundogan sent a shot skidding past the post. Another penalty appeal was ignored after Ben Chilwell proved too strong for Sterling before, Maguire set off on an extraordinary run for Leicester down the left wing to set up Maddison, who shot wide.
Aguero again went close to breaking that deadlock as he flicked a shot, as he fell, which Schmeichel did extremely well to block. But he had no chance soon after. Aymeric Laporte rolled the ball to defensive partner Kompany and he strode on, taking two touches before striking a fierce shot that arced away from the keeper and tore into the top corner of the net. Awave of raucous relief rolled around the Etihad.
It rolled again, in the 87th minute, when former City striker Kelechi Iheanacho, on as a substitute, snatched at a clear shot at goal sending it wastefully wide. What a twist that would have been.
© Daily Telegraph, London