Manchester City got their Premier League campaign restarted with a victory over Leeds United at Elland Road. Up next for the men is a visit from Everton. Sky Blue News is here with all the latest to get you ready.
A City goal felt certain, and it arrived seconds before the break in the form of a swift counter-attack.
Leeds committed men forward for one of the first times in the half as they went in search of what would have been the ultimate sucker punch, but City won the ball back and produced a slick move that ended with Mahrez’s shot being well saved by the excellent Meslier, only for Rodri to tap home into the empty net.
It was the least City deserved having created 16 chances in the first 45 minutes.
City’s lead was doubled shortly after the restart when Grealish drove forward and squared for Haaland to score his 25th goal of the campaign in all competitions. There’ll be few easier finishes for the Norwegian this season.
And City soon had a third when Grealish and Haaland linked up to devastating effect once again. Having missed some gilt-edged chances in the first period, Grealish more than atoned with two unselfish assists in the second.
Welcome to your quick recap.
Manchester City win and do it playing pretty well. A well deserved win. A strong side is what Pep started with and with good performances from the lads they dominated most of the match, and could have had more goals.
A good match to come back on PL play to, filled with domination from City and a lot of finishing chances. Man City played decent enough to come out ahead.
One where City was in control with possession and chances created. They played a similarly chance filled second half with quite a few misses and misplaced shots. Still, a nice win.
City had so many players who played well and even with a tad bit of rust got the job done.
Two of note, Erling Haaland and Rico Lewis.
Quick Match Recap: Manchester City 3-1 Leeds United https://t.co/rKxeH3Q8Fh— Bitter and Blue (@BitterandBlue1) December 28, 2022
Leeds 1-3 Manchester City: Erling Haaland strikes twice in city of his birth as Pep Guardiola’s side return to second in Premier League - Peter Smith - Sky Sports
The Norwegian was born in Leeds in 2000 when his father Alfe-Inge was playing for the Whites and, with something of an inevitability, tucked in Jack Grealish’s square pass six minutes into the second half before adding another from the same provider on 64 minutes.
The Premier League’s top scorer has hit the 20-goal landmark in just 14 games since joining from Borussia Dortmund in the summer. That’s seven games quicker than previous record-holder Kevin Phillips, who needed 21.
Haaland - who looked fired up after missing out on the World Cup - would have had his fourth hat-trick of the season, too, but for a late stop from Illan Meslier, and later told Amazon Prime: “I should have scored five!”
Those assists from Grealish were his first of the season and came after his own finishing in the final-third was in focus following a string of missed chances in the first half. But Rodri’s opener (45+1) moments before the break rewarded Man City’s supremacy and when Haaland hit the net twice in 13 minutes there was only going to be one outcome.
Review and Player Ratings from a Rodri masterclass – Leeds United 1-3 Manchester City - Dillon Meehan - City Report
To the surprise of no one, Leeds were aggressive in their price from the very start of the match. However, it nearly backfired for them because just 45 seconds into the game and over the top ball by Ake put Haaland through on goal. But just like last week against Liverpool, the Norwegian was unable to chip the keeper. However, it was a sign of things to come.
While the winger combination of Grealish and Mahrez is a major talking point amongst City fans, it is clear that when the two of them play City are able to control the game and limit counterattacks. That is imperative when facing a side like Leeds.
After Haaland’s near goal in the opening minute, it took a while for City to create more clear-cut chances. After the first 25 minutes or so, Leeds press was beginning to lose steam, and the Blues were able to start breaking through.
In the 30th minute, De Bruyne sent Haaland through on goal, but his shot was saved by Illan Meslier, who came off his line.
Here are three things Man City must do to break into the top three and secure a Champions League spot in 2023 - Graham Falk - Manchester World
Coupled with the departure of key players Caroline Weir, Keira Walsh and Georgia Stanway, those two defeats in the opening two games of the season had fans fearing the worst for the season but City have more than steadied the ship and their battling display against Manchester United just before the break showed the steely determination that has developed at City since.
Taylor has insisted the team can aim for a title push, though qualification for the Champions League after the pre-season departures and disappointing start would be seen as an excellent achievement.
Can they do it? We look at three key things the club must do if they are to leapfrog their Manchester rivals and cement European football at the The Academy Stadium next year.
Man City confirm another first-team player without a January signing in Leeds win - Simon Bajkowski - Manchester Evening News
Teenager Rico Lewis was named in the XI for his full competition debut after impressing in the cup win against Liverpool and while it was deserved, once again Guardiola has swum against the tide in the division in terms of using his returning internationals. It may be to City’s benefit over the next few months, yet in the immediacy of a tricky fixture raised eyebrows - not least because he himself had recently said the players who had not been involved at the World Cup lacked match sharpness.
Lewis deserves to be talked about for his excellent performance though, which involved the difficult task of playing alongside Rodri in defensive midfield for most of the night. He deservedly took the acclaim of the City fans for a performance that showed outstanding quality and maturity in the most difficult role, the 18-year-old as adept putting in crunching challenges as he was making buccaneering runs into the box.
And finally... Erling shows his stuff on his return to his birthplace.
The striker has 20 Premier League goals in 14 appearances and is the fastest player to reach that tally in top-flight history.
Our number nine admitted that he never even dreamed of scoring at Elland Road.
“With my father and mother here today, it’s special,” he said.
“I have to say it’s special. It’s a really special moment in my career. It’s really weird, it’s in my craziest fantasy, to score for City against Leeds.
“I just said it inside, I could have scored five. But we won, that’s the most important. We have to hunt Arsenal.
“I’m really happy, I could have scored more but that’s life! What can I do? I’ll practice more!”
There you have it. It’s a quick turnaround to Everton on Saturday. Stay with us at Bitter and Blue for all the latest.