Manchester City put their supporters through hell before securing a vital three points as the blues moved clear of Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table. A first-half brace by Ilkay Gundogan looked like it would be enough to see the blues home, but an 85th-minute goal by Rodrigo, moments after City’s German star missed a penalty, had the blues on the edge of their seats for the remainder of the match.
After hitting top spot with a comfortable 3-0 victory over West Ham, City faced the relegation-threatened Whites with new manager Sam Allardyce, who earlier in the week claimed he was as good as Pep Guardiola, looking to extend their lead over the Gunners. And, with the London side facing a difficult challenge at St James’s Park on Sunday, three points were vital for the blues, who could wrap up the league with victory at Everton and in their final home game against Chelsea, should the Gunners founder on Tyneside.
Gundogan was one of several changes made from Wednesday’s match and he proved the difference in the first half as City swept into a 2-0 lead inside 27 minutes. In fairness, it was no more than City deserved after dominating the stages, with the blues threatening a repeat of last season’s 7-0 demolition of the Yorkshire side.
The German star fired low into the bottom right corner after being brilliantly picked out by Riyad Mahrez on the City right on 19 minutes, and same pair combined eight minutes later to make it 2-0. This time, Gundogan took a touch before finding the other corner.
Leeds were not in the game and City continued to dominate for the rest of the half but couldn’t add to the tally.
The second half began in the same vein and Erling Haaland, who could have had a first-half hat-trick, finally beat the keeper but not the woodwork as his rolled effort bounced off the post and behind.
And the Norwegian had an opportunity to continue his goalscoring form and make the game safe in the 84th minute as Phil Foden crashed to the ground inside the penalty area, giving the referee no option but to point to the spot. Haaland passed the ball to Gundogan to get his treble, but the German’s spot-kick cannoned off the post.
Seconds later, Leeds were back in it as Rodrigo beat Ederson from the edge of the penalty area to set up a nervy finish for the blues. Thankfully, City were in no mood to gift Arsenal an opportunity to overtake them on Sunday, and the blues saw out the last few minutes without any further incident.
Having moved clear at the top, City now focus on their Champions League bid and a trip to Real Madrid on Tuesday, before travelling to another relegation-threatened side in the shape of Everton next Sunday.
Final score: Manchester City 2-1 Leeds Utd