Manchester City came from behind to win 3-1 at home to Leicester City in a vital victory for their slim Premier League title hopes.
Leicester took the lead at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday through Jamie Vardy’s 17th Premier League goal of the season.
But champions City showed grit and determination despite Leicester’s threat on the counter-attack and Riyad Mahrez equalised against his old club with a deflected drive.
Raheem Sterling won a penalty that Ilkay Gundogan converted and Gabriel Jesus struck after the break to move City within a point of their second-placed visitors, who remain 10 behind leaders Liverpool.
Kevin De Bruyne was outstanding against Arsenal last time out and his low 20-yard drive rattled the outside of the post with Kasper Schmeichel scrambling, but it was Leicester who took the lead with their first shot in the 22nd minute.
Harvey Barnes sent Vardy free down the left channel and he burst away from Fernandinho with ease before expertly lifting a deft finish over the onrushing Ederson.
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 21, 2019
Mahrez had been giving Ben Chilwell a tough time and, after he beat the full-back again, the former Foxes star’s shot flew past Schmeichel, clipping the unlucky Caglar Soyuncu on its way in.
City were ahead by the interval, Ricardo Pereira clumsily bringing down Sterling with Gundogan squeezing his low penalty past Schmeichel despite the goalkeeper getting a hand to the kick, though Ederson had to deny James Maddison on the stroke of half-time.
Mahrez missed two clear chances to extend City’s lead early in the second half before De Bruyne tried to set up Jesus when he had Schmeichel’s goal at his mercy.
Leicester continued to post a threat on the break, Barnes failing to convert a Vardy centre, but Schmeichel had to make a brilliant save to keep out another Mahrez effort.
City clinched it in the 69th minute, De Bruyne – who later went off with apparent cramp to be replaced by the returning Sergio Aguero – evading Soyuncu to cross for Jesus to tap in, and they may yet exert pressure on Liverpool during the second half of the season.
12 – Gabriel Jesus has netted his first goal in 12 home games for Manchester City in all competitions, since scoring against Schalke in March. Each of his last 14 goals for the club before today had been scored away from the Etihad. Redeemer. pic.twitter.com/o3gUePSQxu
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 21, 2019
What does it mean? Champions’ defence not over yet
Liverpool will have to suffer a serious slip-up to miss out on their first title of the Premier League era, but Pep Guardiola’s side are not out of contention just yet.
Leicester had emerged as the Reds’ nearest challengers this term but City, who have won four in a row in all competitions since losing the Manchester derby, are building momentum again though they may be concerned about Gundogan’s late injury.
Former Fox Mahrez a menace
Consistency has been an issue for Mahrez since he joined City from Leicester but he showed his former club what they are missing with a performance of style combined with end product.
Mahrez arguably should have scored more than his one fortuitous goal but Leicester could not cope with the Algeria winger.
Leicester full-backs struggle to contain City
Jonny Evans had a fine game at the heart of Leicester’s defence but full-backs Pereira and Chilwell – who has consistently been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium – had days to forget.
England international Chilwell was given the runaround by Mahrez while Pereira got in a poor position against Sterling to concede a decisive penalty.
Key Opta Facts
– Manchester City have won 250 Premier League games in the 2010s, becoming just the second side to hit that figure in top-flight games over a whole decade (Mancester United won 255 in 2000s).
– Leicester City conceded three or more goals in a Premier League game for the first time since February (a 4-1 loss to Crystal Palace). The Foxes had not conceded more than twice in any of their last 28 Premier League games before this match.
– Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne became the first player to register double figures for assists before Christmas in a single Premier League campaign since Mesut Ozil in 2015-16 (15).
– Since his Premier League debut in March 2012, Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling has won more penalties than any other player in the competition (17).
– Riyad Mahrez became the fifth player to have played for Leicester in the Premier League and then score against the Foxes in the competition, after Julian Joachim, Emile Heskey, Chris Wood and N’Golo Kante.
Leicester have another huge game on December 26 when they host leaders Liverpool. The following day sees Guardiola’s men in action away to Wolves.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!