Benjamin Mendy was an unlikely goalscorer as Manchester City took another step towards the Premier League title with an authoritative 2-0 victory at Leicester City.
Pep Guardiola’s side were dominant for long periods, Kevin De Bruyne hitting the crossbar, but had to wait until the 58th minute for left-back Mendy to find the breakthrough.
Both teams had seen goals ruled out for offside by that point, with Jamie Vardy frustrated in first-half stoppage time, although nothing approaching a repeat of Leicester’s 5-2 early season triumph at the Etihad Stadium ever appeared to be on the cards.
A majestic De Bruyne throughball allowed substitute Raheem Sterling to tee up Gabriel Jesus for a game-sealing goal that put the leaders 17 points clear of Manchester United, albeit having played two games more than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
Manchester City captain Fernandinho drilled a 25-yard drive into the bottom corner but his fifth-minute effort was ruled out because Sergio Aguero jumped over the shot in an offside position.
De Bruyne went closer for the visitors, rattling the bar with a 23rd-minute free-kick, before Kasper Schmeichel saved with his boot to thwart former team-mate Riyad Mahrez and Jesus thrashed over before half-time.
Leicester’s first shot belatedly arrived in the 48th minute, when Youri Tielemans treated Ederson to a routine stop.
Ruben Dias slid in to make a telling block from the Belgium midfielder moments later after Kelechi Iheanacho picked Fernandinho’s pocket.
Mahrez stung Schmeichel’s palms before the hour and Leicester failed to clear the danger – possession falling to Mendy, who stepped inside Marc Albrighton and slotted home right footed.
You love to see it!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 3, 2021
Sterling and Jesus threatened to undo De Bruyne’s imperious work 16 minutes from time but held their nerve to seal victory as blue shirts darted back towards the goalmouth in vain.
Mahrez trudged off having come agonisingly close to scoring against his former employers, clipping a shot just wide after Jesus mugged a flagging Jonny Evans.
What does it mean? City in ominous form for mouthwatering April
It is now 26 wins from 27 matches in all competitions for Manchester City, a statistic that underlines exactly why they retain trophy ambitions on four fronts. The odd game out in that relentless run, a 2-0 derby defeat to United, showed why questions might remain over their bid for Champions League glory. Against a side carrying similar threats, who bloodied them badly last September, Guardiola’s team were a class apart throughout at the King Power Stadium.
Borussia Dortmund are up next and Wembley trips to take on Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals and Tottenham in the EFL Cup final follow later in April. Saturday’s performance was the perfect lift-off for a pivotal month.
De Bruyne: You won’t like it when he’s angry
Dortmund, Chelsea and the rest might consider laying on some courteous pre-match words for master playmaker De Bruyne. For reasons not entirely clear, the Belgium star was in a righteous funk throughout proceedings in the east midlands. That anger fuelled a masterful display.
He made three key passes – joint most with Jesus in the City line-up – and also snapped into 18 duels, winning 10, to further evidence his all-action brilliance.
Mendy and Jesus give Guardiola food for thought
City’s packed schedule means Guardiola will call on all members of a well-stocked squad over the coming weeks. When it comes to the most decisive games, it is hard to imagine Mendy and Jesus being go-to selections. Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko have effectively made Mendy third-choice left-back, but the Frenchman now has two goals in his past six Premier League appearances having failed to net in his first 39.
Goals are less of a problem for Jesus and, in the week Aguero confirmed his pending City departure, the Brazil striker will have been pleased to lay eyes upon a favoured opponent. He has now scored in five of his six Premier League appearances versus Leicester, only netting more frequently against Everton (seven) in England’s top flight.
5 – Gabriel Jesus has scored in five of his six Premier League appearances against Leicester (5 goals) – only versus Everton (7) has the Brazilian netted more Premier League goals than vs the Foxes (5). Familiarity. pic.twitter.com/vg1NwJZ6BU
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 3, 2021
Key Opta Facts
– Leicester City suffered just their third defeat in their last 17 Premier League games (W9 D5) after losing three of the five before that.
– Manchester City have won each of their last 15 away games in all competitions and are unbeaten in 18 on the road (W16 D2), last losing an away fixture in November 2020 against Tottenham (2-0 in the Premier League).
– Manchester City have kept more clean sheets (28) and conceded fewer goals (26) in all competitions this season than any other side in Europe’s top five leagues.
– Leicester failed to muster a single shot in the first half for the first time in a Premier League game since December 2019 against Liverpool.
– Jamie Vardy made his 300th league appearance for Leicester since his debut in August 2012, with the striker scoring 135 goals in those games, 93 more than any other Foxes player in that time.
– Benjamin Mendy netted just his second Premier League goal for Manchester City, with those two coming in his last six appearances in the competition, after failing to find the back of the net in his first 39.
Guardiola’s side take on Leeds United at the Etihad Stadium next weekend, a fixture that comes in between their two-legged Champions League quarter-final with Borussia Dortmund. Leicester will look to advance their prospects of playing at that level next season when they travel to West Ham in eight days’ time
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