City recovered from a goal down to beat Luton Town 2-1 and end a run of four games without victory.

Despite an impressive opening 45, the Blues conceded in first-half added time to trail 1-0 at the break.

But the Treble winners continued to pin the home side back after the restart and were rewarded around the hour-mark with two quickfire goals from Bernardo and Jack Grealish to take all three points.

What happened…

City looked determined and focused straight from kick-off and could have been ahead inside two minutes as good work from Julian Alvarez and Bernardo created an angled opportunity for Phil Foden.

Foden’s shot was beaten out by the keeper and Bernardo volleyed the loose ball wide – had he found the target it would have almost certainly been the ideal start – in fact, with 90 seconds played we’d equalled our entire shot count at Aston Villa in midweek!

Pep Guardiola spoke after the Villa defeat about ‘changing the dynamic’ of his team and it was evident at Kenilworth Road that much more was being played through the lines and more centrally.

There was less use of the wider areas, instead trying to unpick the Luton defence with quick passing, movement, and clever lay-offs.

Rodrigo saw a powerful shot beaten away by Thomas Kaminski on 19 as City’s dominance was almost rewarded.

Foden was next to test Kaminski with a low drive on 27 minutes, but again the home keeper was up to the challenge.

It felt like a matter of time before the Blues went ahead, but the Hatters defended stoically and, with the last meaningful act of the first-half, it was the home side who went ahead.

In added time, a cross from Andros Townsend found the unmarked Elijah Adebayo who leapt to head the ball past Ederson.

It felt cruel given the quality of City’s performance, but it was proof that the Premier League is an unforgiving place at the best of times.

City continued to pin Luton in their own final third after the restart and on the hour-mark, Nathan Ake pulled the ball back for Ruben Dias who saw his shot from close range crash against the crossbar.

Two minutes later and the Blues were finally level.

The referee played advantage as Kyle Walker was fouled, Rodrigo took on the ball and drove into the box where he collided with Tom Lockyer and the lurking Bernardo was on hand to fire a low angled shot past Kaminski to make it 1-1.

Three minutes after that, and City were ahead!

Alvarez raced into the Luton box, whipped in a low ball across the face of the box and Grealish came in at the far post to squeeze a low shot through Kaminski’s legs.

The relief was palpable, though there was still work to do.

The hosts were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men on 72 minutes when Jacob Brown’s clumsy challenge on Foden was scrutinised by VAR, ultimately deciding it wasn’t a red card offence.

Luton pressed in the latter stages without causing Ederson too many problems and the Blues saw out the additional time to claim all three points.

Teams

LUTON TOWN XI: Kaminski; Mengi, Lockyer (Clark 90’), Bell; Doughty, Nakamba, (Lokonga 72’) , Barkley, Giles (Chong 84’); Townsend (Morris, 72’), Brown; Adebayo.

Subs: Krul, Andersen, Berry, Mpanzu, Johnson.

CITY XI: Ederson, Walker (c), Dias, Ake, Gvardiol (Stones 69’), Rodrigo, Kovacic, (Nunes 83’), BernardoFoden (Akanji 90+3), Grealish, Alvarez

Subs: Ortega Moreno, Carson, Phillips, Bobb, Lewis, Gomez

STAR MAN

A typically industrious performance from the tireless Bernardo.

His goal came at a crucial time and his work up and down the pitch was relentless.

Jack Grealish and Phil Foden were also outstanding in a team display that will have delighted Guardiola.

CITY SHOW GUTS

Four games without victory and trailing to a goal on half-time, this would have been an easy time for any team to crumble under the pressure.

Not City.

From minute one you could sense a steely determination to prove any doubters wrong with a brave display of hard work and invention.

Luton are no pushovers, as many top sides have discovered this season already, and this victory was fully deserved - and most welcome!

Ake Century

Congratulations to Nathan Ake who today made his 100th appearance for Manchester City.

Ake, who signed for the Blues in August 2020, hit the century landmark this afternoon in our 2-1 victory against Luton Town at Kenilworth Road.

In the process, he became the 22nd player to reach the milestone during the Pep Guardiola era and the first of them to come from the Netherlands.

Of our current crop, he joined Bernardo Silva (324), Kevin De Bruyne (317), Ederson (309), Kyle Walker (276), Phil Foden (240), John Stones (237), Rodrigo (226), Ruben Dias (153) and Jack Grealish (105) in the 100-club.

Of his 100 matches played, he’s started 75, played 6,810 minutes, won 68 games, drawn 16 and lost 16 – giving him a win percentage of 68%.

He’s had 23 clean sheets, scored nine goals, enjoyed 5,502 successful passes, won 169 of 253 aerial duels, won 105 tackles, 81 interceptions, 20 blocks and 100 headed clearances. 

Among the players to have made at least 50 appearances for City since his debut, he’s top for headed clearances and aerial duels won per 90 minutes.

Guardiola reaction

“We won and the most important thing for our dynamic is winning games. That helps a lot.

“I would say the first half against Fulham, Villa away they were much better than us.

“But other than that we played well and sometimes we don’t get the result we deserve.

“It is what it is. We have played the first half against these types of teams in this sort of stadium, (and today) we did it perfectly.

“We conceded not much and created half chances to score.

“The first half was much better than the second half. In the second we scored the goals. Overall, I am really satisfied.

“The dynamic is good. Now go to Belgrade to defend the work we have done in the group stage, play Crystal Palace and then go to CWC in Saudi Arabia.”

KOVACIC REACTION

“Big three points. We showed overall great football, especially in the first half, we played very well, we found a lot of players in the pockets which is what we want.

“We had half chances. We maybe missed the final touch. We showed great character, as this team has shown over many years now. It’s a big three points for us.

“We played overall very good, when you do your thing and insist, the goals come. We could have scored even more, but I’m happy with the three points.”

What it means

City remain in fourth in the Premier League table, but now trail leaders Liverpool by just four points and Arsenal by three.

Premier League
3 Aston Villa FC Aston Villa A Villa 16 11 2 3 35 20 15 35 WWDWW
4 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 16 10 3 3 38 18 20 33 DDDLW
5 Tottenham Hotspur Spurs 16 9 3 4 33 23 10 30 LLDLW
Last updated: 14 December 2023

Up next

There’s no respite at this time of the season and the Blues are in action again next Wednesday in our final group stage Champions League game away to Red Star Belgrade.

City have already qualified as group winners and this clash could give Pep Guardiola the opportunity to rest one or two players and give starting berths to those who have had fewer chances to play this season.

The game kicks off at 17:45 (UK).

Then we host Crystal Palace in the Premier League next Saturday, with a 15:00 (UK) kick-off at the Etihad before jetting off to Saudi Arabia and the FIFA Club World Cup.

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