Leicester City vs Manchester City. Premier League.
The King Power Stadium.
Free match highlights and report as second-half goals from Benjamin Mendy and Gabriel Jesus take Man City 17 points clear at the top of the Premier League; Leicester, who failed to register a shot in the first half, still third
Sunday 4 April 2021 07:04, UK
Manchester City were simply too good for Leicester as they continued their march towards the Premier League title with a 2-0 win at the King Power Stadium.
Man City were completely dominant in every area but the scoreline stayed goalless in the first half - coming closest through Kevin De Bruyne's free-kick off the crossbar - as Leicester failed to register a single shot, touching the ball just once in the opposition box.
The champions elect deserved their opener through Benjamin Mendy (58), only his second goal for Man City, coolly curling home from 12 yards after a smart turn in the box.
Pep Guardiola's side wrapped up the win through birthday boy Gabriel Jesus (74), initially played through by De Bruyne's eye-of-a-needle pass, before exchanging passes with Raheem Sterling at close range and converting at close range.
The result means Man City are 17 points clear of second-placed Man Utd, who have two games in hand, and are a maximum of 11 points away from securing the title. In the race for the top four, fifth-place West Ham will be just four points off Leicester if they beat Wolves on Monday Night Football.
Leicester: Schmeichel (6), Castagne (6), Amartey (5), Fofana (6), Evans (6), Ndidi (6), Tielemans (6), Albrighton (6), Perez (6), Iheanacho (5), Vardy (5)
Subs: Pereira (6), Maddison (6), Mendy (NA)
Man City: Ederson (6), Walker (7), Mendy (7), Laporte (7), Dias (8), Rodri (7), Fernandinho (7), De Bruyne (8), Mahrez (6), Jesus (8), Aguero (6)
Subs: Sterling (7), Torres (NA), Foden (NA)
Man of the match: Kevin De Bruyne
Six of Man City's starting XI didn't take part in international duty, as Pep Guardiola made another four changes, taking their tally of starting XI changes to 98 this season, more than any Premier League side.
The visitors thought they'd taken the lead in the opening minutes as Fernandinho's 25-yard effort found the bottom corner, but Sergio Aguero was in an offside position and in the eyeline of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Man City were governing the ball in the first half - in one six-minute period, they had 100 per cent possession, and the Foxes didn't complete a single pass - as Leicester struggled to get out of their half. As De Bruyne said after the game: "Only one team was playing".
The game was following a similar pattern to the opening stages of their 5-2 win at the Etihad in September, where Leicester sat back and coerced Man City into overcommitting, but the result was different this time against a more savvy Pep Guardiola side.
De Bruyne struck a free-kick that he had fortuitously won against the bar from the edge of the box and Riyad Mahrez's low effort from a clever Gabriel Jesus flick was saved by the feet of Schmeichel, but Leicester kept the leaders at arm's length without posing any threat themselves.
Brendan Rodgers was without Caglar Soyuncu as Daniel Amartey started in defence while Marc Albrighton started in place of Ricardo Pereira, meaning Timothy Castagne dropped into his more familiar position at left-back.
James Maddison was fit enough to make the bench, as was the 21-year-old French youth international Thanawat Suengchitthawon.
Sergio Aguero started for Man City as Pep Guardiola made four changes to his side from their last Premier League outing at Fulham three weeks ago.
Joao Cancelo, John Stones, Bernardo Silva and Ferran Torres all dropped out as Fernandinho, Kyle Walker, Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez came in.
Leicester's only moment of the first half came in stoppage time as Jamie Vardy rounded Ederson and converted from Ayoze Perez's throughball, but the offside flag was up to correctly deny him.
Man City were making "the third team in the Premier League look like they are from the league below" with their dominance, according to Sky Sports' Jamie Redknapp, but Leicester did start brightly in the second half.
After Fernandinho lost the ball in midfield, Kelechi Iheanacho released Youri Tielemans at a slight angle on the right of the box, and his low, goalbound effort was brilliantly blocked by Ruben Dias.
Man City finally made the breakthrough just before the hour mark through an unlikely source, the ball breaking to Mendy in the box before the Frenchman composed himself, turned Marc Albrighton and curled right-footed into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Though he didn't get the assist, De Bruyne played a huge part in the second, playing Jesus through with a world-class threaded pass. Jesus squared for Sterling, who returned the favour by sitting Ricardo Pereira down and feeding Jesus to poke home until an empty net from close range.
De Bruyne should have had an assist moments later as he slipped through Mahrez one-on-one with Schmeichel, but the former Leicester man stuck his clear chance wide.
The scoreline by no means flattered Man City. They showed the shrewd and ruthless edge they were missing in September's heavy defeat to Leicester, which came a day before the £65m investment in Dias, who was imperious again on Saturday. Leicester, meanwhile, will be hoping this isn't the start of a similar slump that saw them fall out of the top four last season.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers: "For large parts of the first half we defended well, we had tiredness in our game. Technically we weren't as good as we normally are. We are disappointed with the goals, they came when we were starting to chase the game.
"Apart from that we had some chances but the best team has won the game. We have no excuses.
"We didn't show the quality we have got but that comes with a bit of tiredness sometimes. Our organisation was good but we didn't get through the pitch well at times.
"If you concede against a team with that much quality they can just hide the ball from you. We have been brilliant this season with what we have had to contend with, injuries and stuff, so now we can recover for a few days and freshen the guys up."
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola: "They are an incredible team, we suffered at home against them but we are more patient and it is a big step to winning the Premier League.
"You never know after an international break but I trust my players. The players don't always believe me but I like every one of them, today I trust some of my players who haven't played for a while. When you are winning, winning, the guys who play know they have to play good to play again. There is good solidarity between the players.
"The Premier League is the nicest competition [to win], it is 11 months and it is so tough. We are close. We need three more wins.
"Sergio Aguero is fine, his knee is perfect. He needs the rhythm of games but we need players fresh. I am delighted the way he trained this week, nothing is going to change. Maybe one day we will need the one goal to win something and he will be there."
Jamie Redknapp on Sky Sports:
"We've spoken before about the Premier League's best strikers, but when it comes to the league's best ever passers, Kevin De Bruyne is the best the Premier League has ever seen. I've never seen anyone like him. The weight of the ball, the killer-ball passes, the precision, is just phenomenal."
Micah Richards on Sky Sports:
"He's got to be up there with the best midfielders in the world. He's so hard to mark because he always finds that little bit of space. He can play off the left foot, the right foot, and he always looks to pass forward when he gets on the ball. He can do absolutely everything."
Leicester now go to West Ham next Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League at 2.05pm, while Manchester City host Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League quarter-final first leg at 8pm on Tuesday, before hosting Leeds in the Premier League at 12.30pm on Saturday.