De Bruyne dazzles, City sink Leicester

Manchester City’s Belgian defender Vincent Kompany (R) heads the ball to clear it from the path of Leicester City’s English striker Jamie Vardy during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Manchester City at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on November 18, 2017. / AFP

LEICESTER: Runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City overcame defensive problems to reach another landmark with a 2-0 victory at Leicester City yesterday. Pep Guardiola’s side made it 11 wins from 12 matches to equal the record start to their 2011-12 title triumph under Roberto Mancini. Even the loss of John Stones to injury and an unsettling return to action for Vincent Kompany could not stop them sweeping aside Leicester with goals either side of half-time from Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne. City finished the game with two defenders—Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala — who have just eight appearances between them this season at the heart of their back four.

But it did not deter them in the slightest as they brought Leicester’s six-match unbeaten run to an end at the King Power Stadium. Kompany could have been sent off in the second minute for a last-man foul on Jamie Vardy, but even after losing Stones to an apparent hamstring injury later in the first half, City made their dominance count. One change had been forced upon Guardiola by Nicolas Otamendi’s suspension, but he also left Sergio Aguero on the bench after his health scare while on international duty with Argentina.

Otamendi’s absence opened the door for Kompany’s return after an 11-week absence with a calf strain, but his comeback could have been over before it had begun.
City’s skipper scythed down Vardy as he burst through the middle, leaving referee Graham Scott with a big call to make. He chose to issue a yellow card and television replays showed Vardy was not clean through and Stones was in close proximity. Though the leaders dominated the early possession, Leicester were able to deal with any threat and looked typically menacing on the counter-attack.


Kasper Schmeichel was called upon to make his first save of note in the 20th minute when Leroy Sane picked out David Silva, whose first-time shot was tipped over the bar at full stretch. There was another anxious moment for the home side when the dangerous Sane whipped a teasing cross into the danger area from the left and the diving Raheem Sterling was only inches from getting his head to it. Stones went down clutching his hamstring as he attempted to put the brakes on when chasing back in the 28th minute.

With Mangala introduced into a much-changed defence, Claude Puel’s Leicester sensed an opportunity to put their opponents under pressure. Mangala’s first contribution was hardly convincing, but Guardiola’s men recovered their composure to finish the first half on a high note. Silva was the instigator of a move that unlocked the Leicester defence and left Jesus with the simplest of tap-ins when the Spaniard squared it to him on the edge of the six-yard box.

Leicester must have known it was not going to be their afternoon when, within seconds of going close to an equaliser, they found themselves two goals down in the 49th minute. The post was still rattling at one end from Harry Maguire’s shot when De Bruyne fired a stunning left-foot shot into the top-left corner, leaving Schmeichel grasping at thin air.
The visitors seemed in a hurry to wrap up the three points as first Jesus and then Sane went close to adding a third. There was a warning sign for City when Kyle Walker had to produce an acrobatic goal-line clearance to keep out Vardy’s header after a Wilfred Ndidi shot had been deflected into the striker’s path, but Guardiola’s men closed out a comfortable win. – AFP

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