Manchester City survived a spirited Leicester City fightback to prevail 6-3 winners in a thrilling Boxing Day encounter at the Etihad Stadium.
Though pegged back to 4-3 from 4-0 up, Pep Guardiola’s men moved six points clear at the top of the Premier League following a ninth successive victory, with second-placed Liverpool having played a game less.
Kevin De Bruyne scored the first of four goals for the hosts inside the opening 25 minutes, while a pair of penalties from Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling sandwiched Ilkay Gundogan’s strike.
The Foxes came roaring back after the break as James Maddison, Ademola Lookman and Kelechi Iheanacho threatened the most unlikely comeback, but Aymeric Laporte and Sterling got the Citizens back on track and secured the points.
Man City took the lead in the fifth minute following neat interplay as De Bruyne controlled Fernandinho’s lofted pass into the box before sweeping past Kasper Schmeichel.
The hosts doubled the advantage with Mahrez, who had lost in all five of his previous Premier League appearances on Boxing Day, firing home from 12 yards after Youri Tielemans bundled over Laporte.
Gundogan made it 3-0 after another lovely exchange of passes culminated in Schmeichel parrying Joao Cancelo’s low cross straight to the Germany international, who made no mistake from close range.
Three became four soon after, with Tielemans the offender again as he brought down Sterling, who picked himself up and emphatically swept his penalty into the top corner.
Nevertheless, Leicester responded brilliantly after the break. The visitors halved the deficit by the hour mark with a couple of quickfire counters resulting in Iheanacho well-timed throughballs for Maddison and Lookman to finish.
Former Man City forward Iheanacho then got in on the act to reduce the arrears to a single goal, but the hosts pulled clear from two Mahrez corners, with Laporte and Sterling profiting.
9 – Man City v Leicester is the first ever @premierleague game on Boxing Day to see as many as nine goals, and the highest scoring match in the top-flight overall on Boxing Day since Oldham 3-6 Man Utd in 1991. Feast.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 26, 2021
What does it mean? Relief for Man City
They may have resumed their red-hot form, but Man City will have breathed a huge sigh of relief after the fright Leicester gave them.
Nevertheless, that is a ninth win for the Citizens in 11 Premier League meetings between the sides, while they have now won their last seven home games on Boxing Day.
But December 26 is certainly not to the liking of the Foxes, who now boast just one victory from their last 12 top-flight matches on the day after Christmas.
Sterling form continues
The England international resumed his sterling recent form with another two goals, while no player bettered his three shots on target.
The forward has now found the net in each of his last four Premier League matches, doing so in the English top flight for the first time since between August and September 2017.
With a goal and two assists to his name, the former Man City forward can count himself unlucky to be on the losing side on his return to the Etihad.
Like Sterling, Iheanacho also registered a game-high three shots on target while winning two of his three duels, with no Leicester player recording a better percentage (66.7).
Man City look to make it 10 successive league wins when they travel to Brentford on Wednesday – the day after Leicester aim to bounce back and build on their spirited second-half display at home to Liverpool.
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