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Manchester City ended a run of three competitive away games without a goal as they won 1-0 at Leicester City, moving to the summit of the Premier League (PL) in the process.
The big news in the build-up was Erling Haaland’s absence from Pep Guardiola’s matchday squad. The Norwegian has been in stunning form this term, but managed just 45 minutes in the goalless draw at Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League in midweek and his unavailability was undoubtedly a huge blow for the Citizens – of the four games Haaland had not scored in this campaign prior to kick-off, City failed to get on the scoresheet in three.
The striker’s injury certainly had no impact on his team’s ability to dominate possession as, throughout the opening 20 minutes, Leicester barely had a touch. It was very much attack versus defence as the Foxes absorbed plenty of pressure, although the visitors did not create many dangerous chances. Rodri and İlkay Gündoğan both tested Danny Ward with headers, while Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne also tried their luck, but the Welsh goalkeeper would have been disappointed to see any of those efforts hit the back of the net. Leicester grew in confidence as the half progressed, and even had a few forays forward. Harvey Barnes looked the most likely to provide a moment of magic, and he certainly gave Guardiola one or two things to contemplate at the interval.
However, it took less than 240 seconds for City to strike after the break. Ward had gone nearly six hours without conceding in the Foxes’ goal, but there was nothing he could do to stop De Bruyne’s wonderful free-kick flying into the corner via the post. The opener meant Leicester needed to come out of their shell if they were to get anything from the game, and they came close to an equaliser almost immediately, as Youri Tielemans’ stunning volley from James Maddison’s corner was only thwarted by a mix of Ederson’s fingertips and the crossbar.
Ultimately, that was as close as the hosts came to picking up a point, despite a clear increase in intensity as the game approached its climax. The defeat brings an end to a two-match winning run for Brendan Rodgers’ men, and they remain 17th in the PL table.