Leicester City 0, Manchester City 1
Kevin De Bruyne’s free kick ensured Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League for at least 24 hours after they beat Leicester City.Embed from Getty Images
Despite dominating the early parts of this match, City were hanging on by the end as Leicester City first frustrated them and then re-organised and gambled on a second half attack after going behind – Youri Tielemens had a drive tipped onto the crossbar by Ederson.
And Pep Guardiola’s side almost threw it away at the end after a deflection in injury time almost resulted in a bizarre own goal.
Matchwinner De Bruyne admitted that City were tired after a heavy schedule of games recently, but they adapted to the loss of Erling Haaland to injury to win a tough encounter at the King Power Stadium.
He said: “We were a little bit tired after all the games we have had, they were a bit negative.
“We created enough with or without Erling [to win the game].”
“We always have to do better, some games are more difficult than others.”
City boss Pep Guardiola was pleased that City had overcome a tough test and praised his match winner and the work put in by his attacking players against a hard to beat Leicester side.
He said: “It was a really difficult game, to attack with 10 players so deep is difficult.
“It was a massive victory for us.
“Kevin [De Bruyne] wasn’t playing good recently but now he’s back!
“There was no space to attack today, we had to be patient and not get frustrated and give away free kicks for James Maddison.
“Julian [Alvarez] had no space, but he moved well – when there is no space it’s hard for the strikers.
“At the end when we should keep the ball we suffered. Leicester away is so complicated.”
Erling Haaland did not feature in the Manchester City match day squad after coming off at half time at Borussia Dortmund in midweek having had a fever and a foot injury.
Also stepping down were Manuel Ortega, Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake, Riyad Mahrez, and Phil Foden after Pep Guardiola admitted his team were exhausted.
Replacing them were Ederson, Manuel Akanji, Aymeric Laporte, Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva, and De Bruyne while Julian Alvarez stayed in the side as the main striker.
City started patiently with Ilkay Gundogan heading into the arms of Danny Ward while Ward also tipped away a header from Rodri.
Ward saved smartly from Alvarez soon afterwards but the Argentine was flagged offside anyway while Bernardo Silva was also denied by the Leicester keeper following a rasping drive.
The Foxes were unable to get out of their own half – it was almost 20 minutes till Jamie Vardy, so often the bane of City, got a touch of the ball such was the dominance of the Blues.
But they managed to get a chance when Harvey Barnes was released by Vardy on the left and his drive was saved by Ederson – their first attack after 23 minutes.
Barnes continued his bright spell down the Leicester left when the Foxes tried to break following a poor pass by Rodri – lashing a couple of hopeful chances wide.
But City kept pressing and Kevin De Bruyne had already tested Ward, with a 25 yard drive and Jack Grealish had a penalty claim turned down as the Blues struggled to break down the 5 man Foxes defence for the rest of the first half.
Keirnan Dewsbury-Hall was replaced by Nampalys Mendy at the break as the Foxes looked to continue frustrating their visitors.
Jack Grealish draws a foul 27 yards out, Kevin De Bruyne fires in equaliser with a stunning 27 yard free kick
But City almost took the lead with a Rodri shot was went just wide and Mendy brought Jack Grealish down which left De Bruyne with a 27 yard free kick.
The Belgian set himself up and curled a superb curling set piece in off the inside of the near post to give City a 49th minute lead with his third goal of the season.
Aymeric Laporte twice denied Vardy the chance to get on the ball as Leicester City tried to level things up.
Youri Tielemens hit a cracking volley from 25 yards out from James Maddison’s cleverly taken corner – the ball was tipped onto the crossbar by Ederson after 54 minutes.
But City were in general in control of the game and the Foxes found it hard to create real chances despite being forced to open up against Pep Guardiola’s side.
Patson Daka and former Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho were brought on with 19 minutes to go for Jamie Vardy and Caglar Soyuncu as the Foxes reverted to a flat back four.
Ruben Dias replaced Manuel Akanji as City responded immediately with the home crowd buoyed by the attacking move by Leicester.
With James Maddison’s free kick cleared and Iheancho drilling a shot wide of the near post it was time for Foden to make his appearance from the bench.
Foden replaced Alvarez with 12 minutes to go as City reverted to a false 9 to try and control the midfield.
Timothy Castagne diverted a free kick over the bar, Daka headed Tielemens’ cross straight into Ederson’s arms, and Ederson saved from Iheanacho’s tame shot as City looked tired again in the closing stages.
And there was almost an injury time calamity when John Stones headed a ball straight into the back of Dias’ head and the ball deflected just wide of Ederson’s goal.
In response City broke and De Bruyne almost created a chance to end the game early as they ended the game relieved to have taken all three points away from the resurgent Foxes.
GOAL – Leicester City 0, Manchester City 1
Leicester City 0, Manchester City 1: 49. Kevin De Bruyne curled a free kick over the Leicester City wall from 27 yards out, up and down and in off the near post to beat Danny Ward.
MATCH STATS – Leicester City 0, Manchester City 1
Leicester City: Ward, Amartey. Soyuncu (Iheanacho 72), Faes, Castagne, Tielemens (C), Dewsbury-Hall (Mendy 46), Justin, Maddison, Barnes, Vardy (Daka 72)
Leicester City Subs not used: Iversen, Albrighton, Perez, Ndidi, Praet, Thomas
Man City: Ederson, Akanji (Dias 72), Stones, Laporte, Cancelo, Gundogan, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne, Grealish, Alvarez (Foden 77)
Man City Subs not used: Ortega, Carson, Ake, Gomez, Mahrez, Lewis, Wilson-Esbrand
Goal: De Bruyne 49