Manchester City 3:1 Leicester City
Although City took a 22nd minute lead, they were eventually eased aside by an impressive Manchester City at the Etihad on Saturday evening…
With Liverpool away on World Club Champions duty, City had a chance to reduce their lead at the top of the table.
Brendan Rodgers made three changes to the side that won at Everton with Söyüncü, Tielemans and Barnes in for Morgan, Praet and Albrighton, in a 4-1-4-1.
Man City pressed forward early on, and escaped when Tielemans gave the ball away in the area but Man City couldn’t capitalise. Then Gundogan sent a long range effort sailing way over the bar.
With City pinned in their own half De Bruyne sent Sterling in on goal but great work from Evans denied him a chance.
Man City went close in the 14th minute when Mahrez cut a ball back for De Bruyne, whose low swerving effort hit the outside of the right hand post. Three minutes later Mahrez beat Chilwell and set up Jesus for a prod from close range, but Schmeichel reacted well to get a hand to it.
City eventually managed to break out in the 20th minute when Tielemans provided a through ball for Vardy, but his cross for Barnes had too much weight and the chance was gone. But they didn’t have long to wait for a goal.
In the 22nd minute a lightning break up-field saw Barnes play a superb ball down the left to Vardy. Although it looked as though his touch had taken the ball too close to Ederson, Vardy’s pace allowed him to lob the ball over the advancing keeper and into the net.
Man City continued to press relentlessly forward and De Bruyne curled a cross to Sterling whose volley was blocked by Schmeichel’s leg.
But City’s breakaways were threatening with the home defence struggling to cope with Vardy’s pace. Maddison curled a ball forward with the outside of his foot and sent Vardy in on the left. With no support he had to shoot from a narrow angle, but sent his effort narrowly over.
Man City levelled on the half hour. Mahrez, giving Chilwell a torrid time, cut in from the right and hit a low shot which clipped Söyüncü, leaving Schmeichel completely wrong-footed.
As the one-way traffic continued Schmeichel saved well from De Bruyne as City looked to get to half time on level terms. But that wasn’t to be, with Mike Dean awarding the home side a very soft penalty in the 42nd minute. Sterling burst into the area from the left, trod on Ricardo’s foot and threw himself down. VAR didn’t help and Gundogan netted bottom right despite Schmeichel getting a fingertip to the ball.
The second half opened at a slower pace, with nothing much happening except for Ndidi getting booked for a foul on De Bruyne. The Belgian was in devastating form and shrugged off a Söyüncü challenge to set up Jesus for a chance that was scrambled away. Mike Dean saw a foul somewhere in there and De Bruyne was booked for his furious reaction.
City broke away in the 61st minute and Vardy whipped over a cross from the right for Barnes, who couldn’t divert it into the net before he was felled by Ederson.
Two minutes later a shaken Barnes was replaced by Albrighton.
Mendy then played a ball across City’s area for Mahrez, but his shot on the run was well saved by Schmeichel.
Gray replaced Pérez in the 68th minute, but it was game over a minute later when Man City went 3-1 up. A devastating run by De Bruyne saw him surge past Söyüncü on the right before sending a cross, signed, sealed and delivered for Jesus to tap in at the far post.
It was backs to the wall now. Mahrez had a shot blocked by a tender part of Söyüncü’s anatomy, before Schmeichel tipped a De Bruyne shot over.
Praet replaced a very subdued Tielemans with 13 minutes remaining.
Man City appeared to be content with the three points and passed the ball around for the remainder of the game, and City had lost their first game in ten Premier League matches.
Too many City players didn’t perform on the day, but it was a superb display from the Champions, with Mahrez and De Bruyne too much to handle on the day.
Brendan Rodgers commented: “I thought Man City were outstanding. We got a good start without playing well. An incredible finish by Vardy. There’s a lot of learning for us here. We’re still ahead of them so it shows how well we’ve done.”
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Fernandinho, Otamendi, Mendy, De Bruyne (Agüero 90), Gündogan (Rodri 79), Bernardo Silva, Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling (Foden 89).
Substitutes: Bravo, Zinchenko, Cancelo, García.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Evans, Söyüncü, Chilwell, Ndidi, Pérez (Gray 68), Tielemans (Praet 77), Maddison, Barnes (Albrighton 64), Vardy.
Substitutes: Justin, Morgan, Ward, Iheanacho.
Referee: Mike Dean. Attendance: 54,415.
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