Erling Haaland finally stung the Bees as his second half finish helped us see off Brentford 1-0 in a very welcome win at the Etihad.

Before tonight, Haaland had scored against 20 of the 21 Premier League teams he’s faced.

He added Thomas Frank’s men to his now complete list and secured us a valuable three points.

The victory, which was far from easy against the determined and resolute visitors, moved us into second spot in the Premier League table, a solitary point behind leaders Liverpool.

WHAT HAPPENED

City began as they always do – probing and pressing in search of an opener.

The passing was pinpoint and precise as they looked to sting the Bees early doors.

But Brentford grew into the game as the first half developed and had a flurry of good chances.

The dangerous Yoane Wissa was played in by last season’s match winner Ivan Toney on 11 minutes.

But for the ability and agility of John Stones to snuff out the danger with an impressive interception, the Congo international would have been in with just Ederson to beat.

Wissa, full of running for the opposition, then played in an onrushing Frank Onyeka on 16 minutes but thankfully his final shot was comfortably saved by our reliable No.31 in between the sticks. He went for glory much to the frustration of Toney who was lurking with intent at the back post.

Then, on 19 minutes, Toney himself fired a fizzing 25-yard free-kick just over the Brazilian’s crossbar.

But it ended up being a first half of two halves – with the Bees buzzing in those opening stages and City coming roaring back with a flurry of opportunities of their own.

Julian Alvarez had a shot on the turn fly high and handsome over the bar on 26 minutes after the ball fell to him from a Kristoffer Ajer headed clearance.

The World Cup winner wound up his right foot two minutes later but his delicious drive went just wide as he turned away in frustration.

What followed was four brilliant chances for the boys in blue in the space of four minutes as City clicked through the gears.

Bernardo went close on 34 minutes after a wonderful move.
Rodrigo floated the ball to Kyle Walker on the right who nodded it into the Portuguese’s path but the marauding midfielder headed wide as the crowd waited to roar.

Manuel Akanji, not known for his goalscoring prowess, then drilled a curling effort goalwards, with Mark Flekken doing superbly to tip over.

The Dutch 30-year-old was at it again moments later when he got down enterprisingly to clear away a Ruben Dias header.

The best chance of the half, though, fell to Oscar Bobb, making his Premier League debut.

The 20-year-old broke into the box, feigned to shoot, waited and then had his final strike somehow cleared off the line by fellow academy graduate, Ben Mee.

What a moment that would have been for the Norwegian in this milestone game.

City continued to push as the half played out, Dias seeing a shot again well kept out by the busy Flekken on 43 minutes.

The second half began as the first half ended – City attacking with intent and Brentford battling resolutely to keep them out.

Pep Guardiola’s men were certainly not short of effort and endeavour but Thomas Frank’s Bees showed fighting qualities in the most difficult of venues.

Roars of ‘Come on City’ echoed around the stadium with the players looking for inspiration as the hour mark approached and Guardiola whipped up supporters by taking on the role of conductor for the Etihad orchestra.

It galvanised the ground just when needed and after plenty of huffing and puffing in search of an all-important goal, Erling Haaland finally broke the deadlock on 71 minutes, finishing smartly following a clever throughball by Alvarez.

Our star striker had the ball in the net again on 81 minutes, cushioning it home after a cutback by Walker but the sight of the official’s flag dulled the celebrations before they really started.

As the clock ticked down to full-time, thankfully it was City who were on the offensive in search of a second, with Phil Foden letting fly with a cracking effort which Flekken acrobatically tipped over on 88 minutes.

The playmaker went even closer in the first of six minutes added time, racing through before seeing his goalbound shot kept out by the Brentford keeper.

The final whistle, when it eventually came, was greeted with cheers but relief much surely have been the overriding emotion after a tough Etihad encounter.

TEAMS

CITY XI: Ederson, Walker (C) Stones, Dias, Akanji, Rodrigo, Bernardo, Foden, Alvarez (Kovacic 89’), Bobb (Doku 61’), Haaland

Subs: Ortega Moreno, Carson, Ake, De Bruyne, Gomez, Nunes, Lewis

BRENTFORD XI: Flekken, Onyeka (Damsgaard 89’), Ajer, Mee, Roerslev (Ghoddos 89’), Jorgensen, Norgaard, Janelt (Jensen 77’), Reguilon (Lewis-Potter 78’), Toney, Wissa (Maupay 68’)

Subs: Strakosha, Collins, Baptiste, Yarmoliuk

PLAYER OF THE MATCH: MANUEL AKANJI

Manuel Akanji showcased his versatility in the victory over Brentford.

The 28-year-old is a centre-back by trade but, as we all know, he’s been starring in midfield at times this season, occupying the role that John Stones operated in effortlessly in our Treble-winning season.

Stones has had his injury problems this term which has seen the former Borussia Dortmund man shine as a central cog in the City wheel.

But tonight, he switched position again, starring at left-back in a backline shutout against the busy Bees.

GUARDIOLA REACTION

“We defended really well.

“We spoke about situations with free kicks and corners, and if we defend well, we have to celebrate like a goal because they are such an incredible threat in every department.

“I never see a team play and create so many dangerous situations like Brentford in my life. I never saw a team like them.

“Every corner and free-kick is a nightmare. The guys - the back four and Erling, Rodri, the smarts of Bernardo help us a lot to defend these type of situations.”

BOBB REACTION

On the result: “We were up against a very good team and we had some good chances that usually we would score. It was a tough opponent.”

On Erling Haaland: “He’s the best in the world. He’s only three years older than me but it’s crazy to play with one of the greats.”

On his first Premier League start: “It was great. Another step and I’m very happy with the win.”

AKANJI REACTION

“It wasn’t easy today. Brentford defended really well.

“We tried to attack from the first minute until the last.

“We scored the goal on a counter attack. Brentford had a good opportunity but we got the ball and went on the counter, the defender slipped, Erling went through on goal and the efficiency was there, he scored a great goal.

“We know how hard it is to play against Brentford. They defend really well, play a lot of long balls and are great at set-pieces.

“So we knew it wouldn’t be easy playing against the back five.

“We did pretty well today. I can’t remember any big chances they had. We did well defensively and offensively we stayed patient and waited till we scored.”

WHAT IT MEANS

Victory this evening over Brentford has moved us up a spot in the Premier League table.

We started the day in third but we’ve now leapfrogged Arsenal.

Premier League
1 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 32 22 7 3 76 32 44 73 DDWWW
2 Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal 32 22 5 5 75 26 49 71 WDWWL
3 Liverpool FC Liverpool Liverpool 32 21 8 3 72 31 41 71 DWWDL
Last updated: 17 April 2024

Liverpool are top on 57 points, we’re in second on 56 points with the Gunners in third on 55 points – all after 25 games.

WHAT’S NEXT

We’re back in action this weekend as we travel to Bournemouth on Saturday.

It’s a 17:30 (UK) kick-off at the Vitality Stadium as we take on Andoni Iraola’s Cherries.

Next Fixture

All fixtures

Premier League

Brighton
Brighton & Hove Albion

BST

Man City
Manchester City

The game on the road follows three successive home Premier League games – against Brentford, Chelsea and Everton – which was our longest run of Etihad games since April 2022.

We emerged victorious in the same fixture last time out 4-1 in our Treble winning season, courtesy of goals from Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland, Phil Foden and a Chris Mepham own-goal.

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