- Tom Cayless
Review and Player Ratings as City overcome Leeds test – Leeds United 0-4 Manchester City
After Liverpool beat Newcastle United 1-0 earlier today, nothing but three points would do for Manchester City as faced Leeds United at Elland Road – a game that would result in restoring City's lead at the top of the Premier League. After a nervy first half, goals from Rodri, Nathan Ake, Gabriel Jesus and a late strike from Fernandihno were enough to see the Blues brush aside Jesse Marsch's side.
With the second leg in Madrid to come this Wednesday, Guardiola made five changes from the midweek victory against Los Blancos. Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan, Ake, and Joao Cancelo came into the lineup for Kevin De Bruyne, Oleksandr Zinchenko, John Stones, Bernardo Silva, and Riyad Mahrez. It was also a landmark occasion for Aymeric Laporte as the centre-half made his 150th appearance for City.
John Stones and Kyle Walker both missed out completely through injury.
With every game like a cup final from now on, any mistake could have major consequences. City fans found themselves on the edge of their seat just two minutes into the game. Following on from a corner, the ball came back to the lone Cancelo, who in trying to control the ball, slipped over in a Steven Gerrard-like fashion and left Leeds' Rodrigo running down on goal. Thankfully, he delayed the obvious square-ball and in doing so gave Gundogan time to come across and clear away.
Nerves were settled just 10 minutes later when City took the lead. Guardiola's side found themselves with a free-kick around 30-yards to the left of the Leeds goal, Phil Foden stepped up and whipped in a pinpoint cross into the penalty area which Rodri glanced into the far post.
It wasn't all that easy for the Blues during the first-half, however. City, unusually, really struggled to grab control of the game – although that wasn't helped by poor officiating from Paul Tierney, who seemed to let everything go all game.
Despite City's struggles, they should have had another on the scoreboard just before half-time. Leeds defender, Luke Ayling gave the ball away on the edge of his area to Gabriel Jesus and the Brazillian smartly laid through Sterling. City's No.7 glared down on goal but took too long in his attempts and by the time he struck towards goal multiple Leeds defenders were over to block the effort.
Just after half-time, City gave themselves breathing space by doubling their lead. Ruben Dias rose highest on a corner to head downwards in the direction of Ake who prodded home into the Leeds net.
The hosts pushed on in search of an equaliser and very nearly had on through Raphina. The 25-year-old broke down City's left-handside, cut back inside past Laporte and let fly. City's Spanish defender managed to slide back over and send the effort over the bar with a miraculous block – both Ederson and Dias instantly realised the importance of the action and embraced Laporte afterwards.
Just 12 minutes before the end, City grabbed a third. Cancelo played the ball into Foden who turned and slipped through Jesus. The in-form forward took a touch to set himself and slammed home with his second for his sixth Premier League goal in the past four games.
Leeds would go on to threaten with various attempts on the City goal, but brilliant goal-line defending and a fine Ederson save would preserve the clean sheet.
In the final moments, City skipper and substitute, Fernandinho fired in a fourth with a low drive from the edge of the penalty. The captain went straight over and bowed to the travelling fans for what could be his last goal in a sky blue shirt. The 36-year-old became the Premier League's highest appearing Brazilian and the club's oldest league goalscorer.
Substitues: Zinchenko (7) Silva (N/A), Fernandihno (8)
Well, City needed to win and they did. A shaky first half was shrugged off with an impressive display in the second 45. They're off to Madrid on Wednesday for a place in the UEFA Champions League final and host Newcastle next weekend in another must win Premier League tie.
Written by: @TomCayless_
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