- Bradley Price
Review and Player Ratings as City go four points clear at Prem summit – Manchester City 2-1 Leeds
Manchester City with another dominant Premier League performance despite heavy rotation against Leeds. Ilkay Gundogan scored both goals from nearly carbon copy situations of each other, with a late consolation goal from Rodrigo to keep City on their toes for the last five minutes. The Premier League champions expand their lead at the top to four points and can now look ahead to the Champions League in midweek.
Pep Guardiola named a heavily rotated starting XI from the side that lined up to face West Ham in midweek. Ederson replaced Stefan Ortega, Rico Lewis came in for Kyle Walker with Manuel Akanji and Aymeric Laporte replacing Ruben Dias and John Stones at the back.
Rodri got some must needed rest, with Gundogan brought in at the six position. Bernardo Silva was replaced by Kevin De Bruyne, who returns from 'niggles', and Phil Foden returned to the XI with Jack Grealish on the bench. Julian Alvarez, Nathan Ake and Riyad Mahrez all maintained their position in the starting lineup, along with Erling Haaland.
Despite the heavy rotation, City got started right from the off, with many chances being created. Haaland got the first chance of the game after receiving the ball off Foden just outside the area, but it didn't amount to anything. Akanji also had an early chance from a Mahrez corner, but he couldn't quite keep the header down.
The first major chance came in the 16th minute, with De Bruyne able to find Alvarez within the Leeds box, but Alvarez couldn't quite keep his effort down as the shot flew over the bar. Just a minute later, in the 17th minute, Haaland found himself through against the Leeds goalkeeper, but a comfortable save prevented him from extending his record further.
Just two minutes after Haaland missed his chance, Gundogan found himself on the edge of the box receiving a pass from Mahrez in a pocket of space before unleashing a clinical finish into the bottom right corner of the Leeds goal. 1-0 City.
Another chance for Haaland in the 25th minute as De Bruyne was able to lay off the ball to the Norwegian, but the resulting shot found itself wide of the target. It just didn't look like it was going to be Haaland's day today.
Gundogan, playing like a man possessed today, found himself just a minute later in a familiar position, and it resulted in almost a carbon copy of the first goal, but this time he placed the ball into the bottom left corner. 2-0 City.
Ederson, who hadn't had much to do, was called to action before the end of the first half and answer he did to prevent Weston McKennie from putting a dent into City's lead with a brilliant save to maintain City's clean sheet at that point.
It really wasn't Haaland's day as in the 34th minute a lovely ball from De Bruyne opened up another chance for him, but it was miskicked and ended up out for a Leeds goal kick.
The rest of the first half continued as it had for the entire game, with City trying their best to create chances and further increase their lead, but the score going into the break remained 2-0 to the Blues.
There were no changes from Guardiola going into the second half, and there were no major changes in the state of the game either. City came out after the break and got right back to it. Chances were being created left right and centre but the City boys couldn't seem to get the ball into the back of the net for a third.
There was some bad news for City, however, as Ake found himself injured around the 50th minute and was subsequently replaced by Walker in the 54th. Hopefully, it's precautionary and won't impact his availability looking forward to the game against Real Madrid in midweek; the Dutchman did take a seat on the bench instead of going straight down the tunnel.
Haaland was getting no luck today as he found himself with another chance to strike the ball, but his effort deflected back out after hitting the post. Hopefully, he's saving his luck to cash in during the game against Madrid next.
In the 72nd minute, Mahrez tried to pull a move from a free kick and nearly succeeded in deceiving Joel Robles with a low-whipped free kick, but the Leeds keeper could stop the ball from creeping into the back of the net just in time.
City kept pushing for a third, with De Bruyne whipping in one of his trademark crosses in the 77th minute, but the Leeds keeper was able to get a fist to the ball to punch it out of danger as a couple of City players sat waiting to convert the ball.
City were awarded a penalty after Foden, with a lovely dribble into the Leeds area, found himself being tripped by the Leeds defence. Andy Madley pointed immediately to the spot for what was a fairly clear penalty.
However, contrary to Guardiola's preference for the choice of penalty taker, Gundogan stepped up for a chance to complete a hat-trick, but his effort was wide, hitting the post, with no City players able to capitalise on the rebound.
Guardiola's fear of the risk of not killing off the game from the penalty began to show as Leeds immediately found themselves with a reply to City's lead as a bit of poor defending from Akanji resulted in Rodrigo being able to get a shot off; it flew past Ederson into the back of the City net in the 85th minute to set up a nervy end. 2-1 City.
Guardiola took no time to make a change after the goal, with Bernardo brought on for Alvarez to slow the game down and add some control. He was joined five minutes later by Rodri, who replaced Gundogan for the last minutes of the game.
Despite the late pressure, City were able to maintain their lead through clever game management, and that was all she wrote for this game. Full-time: City 2-1 Leeds.
A fantastic performance despite all the changes and late nerves thanks to a Leeds consolation goal. Some key players got some much-needed rest looking ahead to the Champions League semi-final against Madrid, and City capitalised on their game in hand over Arsenal to expand their lead at the top to four points.
Some great performances, a lot of missed chances, but the three points were secured in the end.
Man of the Match
A man on a mission out there today despite the missed penalty, Gundogan was a clear winner for the Man of the Match award today, with his two goals enough to secure all three points. A totally dominant performance, with a first-half performance typically only seen over 90 minutes. The City skipper will be upset not to have completed his hat-trick from the spot but will have no complaints about the rest of the game.
Ederson - 7
Lewis - 8
Akanji - 7
Laporte - 7
Ake - 7
Gundogan - 9.5
De Bruyne - 8
Alvarez - 7
Mahrez - 9
Foden - 8
Haaland - 7
Substitutions: Walker - 6, Bernardo - N/A, Rodri - N/A
Written by: @BPFoden_
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