Match Report

City produce fine display to dismantle Leeds and close gap at the top

GROUP HUG: Squad goals!
Premier League
Premier League
Wed 28 Dec
Pascal Struijk 

Erling Haaland 
(51', 64')
View highlights
Manchester City produced another fine display to beat Leeds United 3-1 at Elland Road. 

Just six days after our exceptional 3-2 Carabao Cup win over Liverpool, Pep Guardiola's side once again excelled, as goals from Rodri and Erling Haaland (2) secured three vital Premier League points that keep us in touch with Arsenal at the top of the table. 

Haaland's double means he becomes the quickest player to reach 20 Premier League goals having done so in just 14 games. 

In fact, his 20 goals would have been enough to secure a share of the Golden Boot in five Premier League campaigns - and there are still 23 games left to play!

What happened 

City started superbly, picking up where we left off after Thursday’s scintillating performance against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup, playing some exceptional one- and two-touch football.

And we were almost ahead inside 40 seconds when Nathan Ake’s fine pass set Erling Haaland free, but Illan Meslier denied the striker’s attempted lob with an excellent one-handed save.

Kevin De Bruyne curled an effort wide of the post from just outside the area after being found by Rico Lewis, and the Belgian’s cross was inches away from Ilkay Gundogan’s head who surely would have scored if the ball had been more accurate.


Meslier denied Haaland again on the half-hour mark, rushing from his line to smother the striker who had been out clean through by De Bruyne’s pass, and seconds later Jack Grealish somehow turned the ball over from six yards out after Riyad Mahrez’s superb ball to the back post.

City were missing clear chances – and two more went begging in quick succession before the half-time break.

Grealish’s clever chip into the area found Mahrez, but he couldn’t connect from a few yards out, and De Bruyne’s outrageous no-look pass set Lewis free to burst into the box, but the move ended with Grealish somehow putting the ball over the bar from a good position.

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. 

It meant Haaland notched his 20th Premier League goal in record time, reaching the milestone in just 14 matches. 

Pascal Struijk's header from Sam Greenwood's corner reduced the arrears and gave Leeds faint hope of a comeback, but City held firm to secure three big points. 

Stat zone

Rico Lewis: A star in the making

Aged 18 years and 37 days, Rico Lewis became the youngest Englishman to start a Premier League game for City since Micah Richards in May 2006 vs Blackburn (17 years, 317 days) when he was named in the starting lineup for this game. 

And his performance at Elland Road suggests it’ll be the first of many.

Having produced a wonderful performance in the win over Liverpool on Thursday, he once again looked at home in difficult surroundings.

He’s brave, always wants the ball, can run, dribble, pass and cross – a good combination for any aspiring full-back.

He looks to have everything required for a career at the very top, and his rapid rise shows no sign of abating. 

City’s outstanding midfield trio

Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne. It's a midfield possessing all the qualities needed to dominate football matches. 

Rodri, who opened the scoring here, is an expert defensive-midfielder, a player who sits just in front of the back four and offers protection. He is unfussy, plays simple passes and is almost always in the right place at the right time thanks to his ability to read the game. 

Gundogan delivered another masterclass display, with his ability to control the tempo a key aspect of his repertoire. 

And De Bruyne remains the world's finest central-midfielder, with his astonishing range of passing central to our creativity.


Leeds United

XI: Meslier, Kristensen (Ayling 65'), Struijk, Koch, Cooper (Llorente 72'), Forshaw (Klich 65'), Roca, Greenwood, Gnonto, Rodrigo (Gelhardt 72'), Aaronson (Gyabi 83')

Unused subs: Robles, Firpo, Summerville, Harrison.


XI: Ederson, Lewis (Cancelo 69'), Akanji, Stones, Ake, Rodrigo, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Mahrez (Palmer 88'), Grealish (Foden 72'), Haaland 

Unused subs: Ortega, Walker, Phillips, Laporte, Bernardo, Gomez.

Pep reaction

"It was more difficult in the second half than the first. The first half was exceptional.

"We didn’t concede one shot in this stadium. It’s a big compliment for the guys.

"Liverpool and today were great performances."

Haaland reaction

"With my father and mother here today, it’s special. 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."

What it means

City’s win means we go back above Newcastle United into second place in the Premier League, five points behind leaders Arsenal.

Indeed, Arsenal's form has been so good, a slip up this evening against Leeds would have felt like a devastating blow.

City are the only side in the last 13 seasons to not be top on Christmas Day but still go on to lift the title, having done so on three occasions in 2013/14, 2018/19 and 2020/21.

We remain in touch this time. 

Premier League
1 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 7 6 0 1 17 5 12 18 WWWWL
2 Tottenham Hotspur Spurs 7 5 2 0 17 8 9 17 WWWDW
3 Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal 7 5 2 0 15 6 9 17 DWWDW
Last updated: 4 October 2023

What’s next

City face Everton at the Etihad on New Year’s Eve in another vital Premier League encounter.

The Merseysiders are currently 17th in the table, one point above the relegation zone.

That game is the first of seven in 23 days for City – a remarkable run of fixtures that will go a long way in determining the level of success we have this season. 

After hosting Everton, we play six games next month, starting with two against Chelsea, in both the Premier League and FA Cup, and a trip to Southampton in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup. 

Then it's three Premier League games in nine days – the Manchester derby at Old Trafford (14 January), before home matches against Tottenham (19 January) and Wolves (22 January).

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