Nerves were looking almost as shot as Alexis Sanchez around the annals of the Etihad ahead of last night’s match with Leicester City. The East Midlanders, under Brendan Rodgers, once a target for City’s embryonic youth academy, have become a much more difficult opponent to negotiate and for a stern seventy minutes last night this proved to be the case.
Guardiola put his trust in a midfield containing the old stager David Silva, the new stager Phil Foden and the unsigned Ilkay Gundogan. The opposing midfield had more beef than guile and it took City a long time to get on top in that area.
Although the punches exchanged in a first half of limited chances after the break city squeezed the game but didn’t appear as if they were going to break through a Leicester side that was, surprisingly, camped in for the night.
There was no change for Sterling and Aguero, nor Sane once he was introduced to try to electrify the rails.
With twenty minutes left and with all probabilities looking improbable and with sundry Scousers started to get giddy along the East Lancs Road, enter one Vincent Kompany. The same Vincent Kompany who in 2012, on a Monday night, catapulted City back into the Premier League melting pot stretching every sinew to head City into the lead against Stretford’s Finest. The following weekend the Blues went on to win the title, you the Aguerooooo moment.
Last night, receiving the ball in the Leicester half, no challenge came, so he pushed it forward, still no challenge so he pushed it forward a little more. Still no challenge and with Bernardo and Aguero and Guardiola yelling “Don’t shoot, Vinny”, the Captain Fantastic unleashed an Exocet straight into the postage stamp leaving ex-City net minder Schmeichel without a prayer.
The roof of the Etihad almost gave way as the celebrations began. This was the latest in City’s tough end-of-season assignments. No whipping boys like Cardiff or Huddersfield here. No soft referee giving cheap free kicks the wrong way. Just City doing what City do. This was the 100th goal scored by the Blues at the Etihad this season and what a way to achieve it.
The Blues then had to cancel out everything Leicester had to offer including a gilt-edged chance squandered by ex-Blue Iheanacho who will, no doubt, be the subject of the latest Scouser petition. No doubt he missed it on purpose.
Yes, City resigned themselves to getting it in the corner in stoppage time and successfully won corners and free kicks during the additional 90 seconds that referee Dean added in addition to the allotted time of 3 minutes.
It now sets up a last match nail-biter where City have simply to match the result from Anfield where Liverpool play Wolves. If city win at Brighton, they will retain the Premier League title and set themselves for a domestic quadruple. If you haven’t got a ticket there is alive screening in City Square and it is thought that, if they win, the team will head home immediately after the ceremony to be with the fans.