Manchester City went past 100 goals for the season and closed back to within four points of Premier League leaders Liverpool with a 3-0 win at Huddersfield Town.
Danilo’s deflected long-range effort brought up that landmark, achieved across all competitions, after 18 minutes but Pep Guardiola’s side were some way from their fluent best during the first half.
Raheem Sterling headed home the crucial second early in the 54th minute before fellow winger Leroy Sane got in on the act, puncturing a buoyant Huddersfield crowd that came to celebrate David Wagner’s tenure.
Caretaker boss Mark Hudson stepped in after Wagner’s departure this week and oversaw a battling display, albeit from a team 10 points from safety at the foot of the table.
Sergio Aguero prodded wide in the third minute after exchanging passes with Sterling, whose strong penalty claims fell on deaf ears when he was brought down by Terence Kongolo.
City were unlucky on that occasion, but their opening goal came with a slice of fortune as Danilo’s speculative drive spun off Christopher Schindler and beyond the helpless Jonas Lossl.
Ilkay Gundogan went close to doubling the visitors’ lead as the end of a scrappy opening 45 minutes approached.
The Germany midfielder was involved in the move that put the game beyond Huddersfield as Sane stayed just onside to collect Kevin De Bruyne’s pass for Sterling to head home.
8 – Since the start of last season, Leroy Sané has both scored and assisted in eight @premierleague games for Manchester City, at least three more times than any other player at the club (Sterling and Agüero 5). Spectrum. #HUDMCI pic.twitter.com/xdYnBcAwpQ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2019
Sane went from provider to scorer two minutes later as he darted on to Aguero’s clever knock down and dispatched a bouncing ball past Lossl.
City substitute Bernardo Silva was denied by Lossl before lively Huddersfield replacement Steve Mounie blazed his side’s best chance wide in the final action of the contest.
What does it mean? City have appetite for the chase
Since back-to-back defeats against Leicester City and Crystal Palace handed Liverpool the title initiative last month, Guardiola’s men have won six consecutive games in all competitions, scoring 22 unanswered goals in their past four. That untimely wobble is receding from view and, with the likes of Aguero, De Bruyne and David Silva all working back towards full match sharpness, there should be more to come.
Sterling relishes a hostile battle
Andre Marriner’s decision not to award Manchester City’s right winger a penalty early on truly beggared belief. Sterling had already been bizarrely singled out for boos by a section of the home faithful, but he seems to revel in making a mockery of such nonsense nowadays. Having scored a late winner at the John Smith’s Stadium last season, the England star again produced the game-breaking contribution.
Lowe fails to keep the high line
It seems harsh to single out any of Huddersfield’s tireless defensive unit after their efforts ended without reward. However, it must have been galling for the collective to see Chris Lowe’s concentration waver and play Sane fractionally onside for Sterling’s goal. It was a yard of space the Town left-back could scarcely afford to give to his countryman.
Key Opta facts
– Sane has had a hand in 20 goals in his past 17 Premier League starts, with eight of his own alongside 12 assists.
– Huddersfield have won none of the 34 Premier League games in which they’ve conceded the first goal (D3 L31), losing all 14 at home when conceding first.
– Sterling’s two most recent Premier League goals have been headers – only one of his first 57 in the competition came via his head.
– Since the start of last season, Huddersfield have failed to score in 32 Premier League matches – nine more than any other side.
– Sane and Sterling have combined for six Premier League goals this season – the only duo to combine for more often are Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser (seven goals).
6 – Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling have combined for six Premier League goals this season – the only duo to combine for more are Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser (seven goals). Repetition. #HUDMCI pic.twitter.com/0GcE4DSP2R
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2019
City head to Burton Albion in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final on Wednesday, just the nine goals to the good. Huddersfield scored only have 13 in the Premier League all season and must look to add to that meagre tally when they host Everton in nine days.
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