Manchester City 1-0 Leicester City
City put in a great performance at the Etihad on Monday night, but couldn’t put a twist into the title race, falling to a superb strike from Vincent Kompany in the 70th minute…
All eyes were on the Etihad Stadium on Monday night with Leicester viewed as Liverpool’s last realistic hope to put a spoke in the Manchester City wheel before next week’s finale.
Brendan Rodgers named an unchanged side and they started well.
Both sides enjoyed a spell of possession in a cagey opening, and it was City who had the first chance in the 8th minute. Ricardo cut in from the right, opted to stay on his feet after a challenge that should have led to a penalty, and fired in a shot that Kompany blocked by throwing himself to the deck.
Three minutes later Man City had their first chance when Walker lifted a ball into the area, finding an unmarked Foden played onside by Chilwell, but his chest down and shot went straight at Schmeichel.
At the other end Tielemans fired a long-range effort that didn’t test Ederson and then,
from a Man City corner, Sterling and then Foden both miscued their volleys.
Halfway through the first half, with City competing well and snuffing out Man City’s attacks, the tension was beginning to mount.
The home side had a spell of pressure around the half hour mark, Gundogan had a shot deflected wide and then they went very close from a corner. Aguero nipped in for a near post header which struck the underside of the bar before Schmeichel reacted well to claw it away.
Man City kept the pressure on and David Silva’s half-volley went through a crowded area before going inches wide. City were managing the occasional break but not threatening, and as Bernardo Silva had a shot blocked, and then Gundogan fired just off target, they were looking forward to hearing the half time whistle. It arrived with City’s goal intact, and half of Merseyside daring to hope.
The Champions’ first chance of the second half came in the 53rd minute, when Silva got his head to a Walker cross, the ball looped up and fell kindly for an unmarked Sterling, but he got under his header and sent it well over from close in.
City were now entirely pinned in their own half and could only soak up the pressure. Gundogan sent a shot narrowly wide and then there were big penalty appeals when Sterling was sandwiched by Choudhury and Chilwell, but both had got a touch of the ball.
City then had a rare foray forward when Maguire strode out of defence, beat a couple of men and found himself on the left wing. He fed a ball inside to Maddison who attempted to curl a shot round Ederson, when a ball to Albrighton may have been a better option.
The anguish of the home fans increased in the 69th minute: Gundogan poked a ball through Evans’ legs setting up Aguero in a one-on-one with Schmeichel, but the City keeper brilliantly threw out a leg to deny him. However, the tension bubble was about to burst with twenty minutes remaining.
Kompany strode forward, no one closed him down, and he unleashed a 25 yarder that swerved round Maguire and into the top right hand corner. It was the first time Kompany had ever scored from outside the area and will almost certainly go down in Manchester City history as the title-winner.
The pressure eased and City had more of the ball, but couldn’t trouble the Man City defence. Rodgers brought Barnes on for Tielemans, Iheanacho for Maddison, and then Gray for Albrighton, but Man City were in full killing the game off mode now. This was summed up when it took Aguero what seemed like a fortnight to leave the field when substituted.
And they nearly paid for it with three minutes remaining. Choudhury, magnificent again, won a challenge in midfield and then strode forward shrugging off challenges before feeding a precise ball to Iheanacho, who lamely stroked the ball ten yards wide from a great position…
It was the last meaningful chance of the game, which had seen an excellent City performance that boded well for next season, let down by one defensive lapse.
Man City are now highly likely to win the title, and deservedly so, but it was also a night when City’s top six ambitions didn’t look too far-fetched.
Bendan Rodgers summed up: “I’m very proud of the team and it bodes well for the future in terms of the personality we played with, particularly in the first half. How we built the game, finding positions to play forward, it was very good. Start of the second half, that’s the area we need to be better in. Because we didn’t build the game up so well and you get a bit of relief for a second and then it comes back at you. So that’s the bit that we’ll analyse. Those are the things that we’re working on in these early stages.”
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko, Foden (Sané 56), Gündogan, Silva (Stones 90), Bernardo Silva, Agüero (Jesus 87), Sterling.
Substitutes: Danilo, Mahrez, Otamendi, Muric.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell, Albrighton (Gray 85), Tielemans (Barnes 75), Ndidi, Choudhury, Maddison (Iheanacho 80), Vardy.
Substitutes: Morgan, Ward, Mendy, Fuchs.
Referee: Mike Dean. Attendance: 54,506.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
FOX Subscriptions for 2019-20 are now available.
You can either pay online via Paypal HERE (UK price)
Or print out and fill in this form.