Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad have retained the Premier League 2 title following a 3-1 win away to Leeds United.

City needed to avoid defeat to secure the title with a game to spare, but early goals from Kayky, Cole Palmer plus a late strike from Liam Delap instead sealed a hard-earned victory.

The hosts, backed by a PL2 record crowd of 21,321 at Elland Road, took an early lead through Mateo Joseph, but a typically defiant response saw Brian Barry-Murphy’s youngsters get our noses in front before the 15-minute mark.

And while Leeds pushed us to our limits in a closely contested second 45, but City held on to become only the second side to win back-to-back PL2 titles.

What happened

As is often the case in the final furlongs of the campaign, both sides came into the tie with plenty to play for.

Brian Barry-Murphy’s men, unbeaten since December, knew a draw would be enough for the PL2 crown to remain at the City Football Academy, while a victory for the hosts would propel them out of the relegation zone until Monday at least.

Backed by a vocal home support, it was the hosts who got their noses in front when Joseph snuck an effort in at Slicker’s near post inside six minutes.

But City, who had already carved two decent openings before the setback, responded almost instantly when Kayky broke free down the right before curling home into the far corner.

And the turnaround was complete inside 12 minutes when Palmer cut in on his favoured left foot and curled a trademark finish past the despairing dive of Leeds’ stopper Kristoffer Klaesson.

The game continued to ebb and flow as the half progressed with City continuing to find some joy on the counter, but it was the hosts who were next to go close.

A ball over the top of the defence on the half hour saw Crysensio Summerville and the onrushing Cieran Slicker collide just outside the City box, with Leeds players calling for our goalkeeper to be given his marching orders.

However, with Luke Mbete in close pursuit of Summerville, referee Andrew Miller instead brandished a yellow card, much to the indignation of the home support.

The ongoing battle between Slicker and Summerville continued soon after when the Leeds forward once again latched onto an aerial ball, but the City stopper was quick to narrow the angle and the winger’s dinked finish was wide of the mark.

Leeds’ number seven continued to present a problem after the restart, this time feeding Jack Jenkins after a jinking run in from the right flank, but the midfielder’s effort came crashing back off the near post rather than troubling the net.

And City were thankful to Slicker for a fine reaction save down to his left before the hour when Sean McGurk tried his luck from an Archie Gray cutback.

The hosts had undoubtedly started the stronger after the break, but a clever ball in behind from Oscar Bobb provided Kayky with a chance to extend our advantage.

Our Brazilian shrugged off the attentions of Liam McCarron but dragged his effort wide of the near post under pressure from the onrushing Klaesson.

Leeds continued to pile on the pressure, but a mazy run from Sam Edozie almost yielded an elusive third for City, with the winger’s powerful effort deflected just over the bar with 15 to play.

But a game which had provided so much entertainment had one more sting in the tail when a deflected Delap strike trickled into the Leeds net as stoppage time approached.

A fine save from Slicker denied Joseph his second of the match late on, but the two-goal cushion was just rewards for City, who had to dig deep to weather the Leeds storm.

Indeed, it was a defiant display from Brian Barry-Murphy‘s youngsters, worthy of their newly-found status as champions.

What it means

The victory means City have retained the PL2 crown, sitting nine points clear of second-placed West Ham with one game to play.

How we lined up

Cieran Slicker’s goal was shielded by a back four of Kwaku Oduroh, Shea Charles, Luke Mbete and Tom Galvez.

Romeo Lavia sat in front of the defence, with James McAtee and Cole Palmer completing the midfield three.

At the sharp end, Kayky and Sam Edozie provided width for captain Liam Delap, who started as centre-forward.

City XI: Slicker, Oduroh, Charles, Mbete, Galvez, Lavia, McAtee (Borges 83’), Palmer (Bobb 45’), Kayky (Gyabi 68’), Edozie, Delap (C)

Subs: Lewis, van Sas

Leeds XI: Klaesson, Sutcliffe, McCarron, Kenneh, Cresswell, Jenkins, Summerville (Miller 65’), Bate, Joseph, Gray, McGurk (McKinstry 73’)

Subs: Van Den Heuvel, Allen, Mullen

Up next

Brian Barry-Murphy’s side conclude our PL2 campaign on Friday 29 April when we play host to Everton at the Academy Stadium.

Kick-off is scheduled for 19:00 (UK).

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