Match Report

City win thriller at the Etihad to move six points clear at the top of the table

ALL SMILES: Wow, wow, wow!
Premier League
Premier League
Sun 26 Dec
6
3
Kevin De Bruyne 
(5'),  

Riyad Mahrez 
(14'),  

Ilkay Gündogan 
(21'),  

Raheem Sterling 
(25', 87'),  

Aymeric Laporte 
(69')

James Maddison 
(55'),  
Ademola Lookman 
(59'),  
Kelechi Iheanacho 
(65')
View highlights
Manchester City made it nine Premier League wins in succession to move six points clear at the top of the table after a remarkable 6-3 victory over Leicester in our final home fixture of 2021.

In an extraordinary game at the Etihad that will live long in the memory, City were 4-0 up inside 25 minutes thanks to goals from Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling, before Leicester hit three goals in the space of ten second-half minutes to turn the contest on its head. 

But Aymeric Laporte's emphatic header made it 5-3, before Sterling scored his second late on to seal the victory. 

It was chaotic, breathless and thoroughly entertaining - the highest-scoring Boxing Day fixture in the Premier League era. 

What happened?

City started superbly and it was no surprise we took the lead inside five minutes after a sustained period of pressure right from kick off. It was Kevin De Bruyne who got it, controlling Fernandinho’s lofted pass into the area and taking another touch to set himself before unleashing a fine left-footed drive past Kasper Schmeichel in the Leicester goal.

It was just what City deserved after a ferocious start that had seen Leicester pinned back right from the off. 

Our lead doubled soon after when Youri Tielemans was adjudged to have dragged Aymeric Laporte to the ground inside the area. Former Leicester forward Riyad Mahrez smashed the ball into the top corner from the resulting spot kick.

Leicester stabilised and began to come into the contest. Ederson made an outstanding save to deny James Maddison, whose free-kick was going in before the Brazilian pushed the ball onto the bar, and seconds later he made another decent stop to deny Ayoze Perez.

But the victors’ threat was short lived. Bernardo, De Bruyne and Joao Cancelo put together a fine passing move down the right to open up the Leicester backline, and although Cancelo’s dangerous low ball across the area was parried by Schmeichel, Ilkay Gundogan was there to finish expertly and make it 3-0. 

Three minutes later and Tielemans had given another penalty away, this time tripping the exceptional Raheem Sterling as the City forward advanced towards goal. It was Sterling himself who stepped up to take the penalty, and he blasted home with the same self-assurance Mahrez had done earlier in the game.

Leicester looked discombobulated, with City rampant and 4-0 ahead after 25 breathless minutes.

Schmeichel’s save denied what would have been a wonderful team goal, diving to his left to make a brilliant stop from Sterling’s close-range volley after Bernardo had cushioned the ball into his path from De Bruyne’s pass. It would have been the goal of the game.

The game looked dead and buried, but a remarkable three goals in ten minutes saw Leicester get themselves right back into the contest. 

Maddison tapped home ten minutes into the second period after a fine flowing move. Remarkably, Brendan Rodgers' side have now both scored and conceded in each of their last 16 Premier League away games. 

Ademola Lookman added another after a brilliant pass into his feet from former City striker Kelechi Iheanacho. 

Daniel Amartey cleared Fernandinho's header off the line as City looked to reassert control, but Leicester immediately went up the other end and scored another. Maddison's long-range effort was tipped onto the bar by Ederson, but Iheanacho was there to tap home Leicester's third. 

The next goal would prove crucial and it was City who got it when Aymeric Laporte powered a header into the top corner from Mahrez's corner. 

That goal clipped Leicester's wings, but they could have had another with 12 minutes remaining. However, Marc Albrighton somehow missed the target with his backpost header with the goal gaping before him. 

And with three minutes remaining, Sterling, the man of the match, made it 6-3 with a close-range finish. 

De Bruyne revving up

After a difficult start to the season because of injury and a bout of illness, Kevin De Bruyne is back to his best.

Two goals against Leeds and a standout display at Newcastle suggested he was revving back into gear, and against Leicester he once again looked imperious.

His goal to open the scoring was superbly taken and his range of passing was outstanding. He was dictating the tempo, with his ability to get on the ball and create a key facet in City’s game.

It’s wonderful news for City and ominous for the rest of the Premier League: Kevin De Bruyne is very much back in premium form.

City = goals 

City have now scored a remarkable 112 Premier League goals in 2021. 

That's the most any top-flight English side has managed in a calendar year since Arsenal hit 112 back in 1963. 

Man of the Match: Raheem Sterling 

Right from the off, it was clear Sterling was a man on a mission. 

His driving runs and searing pace were too much for Leicester to handle, and with two goals adding gloss to his superb all-round performance, he was the clear candidate for the man-of-the-match award. 

Teams

City

Starting XI: Ederson, Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Gundogan, Bernardo, Mahrez, Sterling, De Bruyne (Foden 71')

Subs: Steffen, Carson, Ake, Jesus, Grealish, Kayky, Foden, Mbete, Palmer

Leicester

Starting XI: Schmeichel, Albrighton, Amartey, Vestergaard, Thomas, Perez (Castagne 45'), Tielemans (Choudhury 71'), Dewsbury-Hall, Lookman, Maddison, Iheanacho 

Subs: Jakupović, Castagne, Nelson, Bertrand, Choudhury, Ndidi, Soumaré, McAteer, Vardy

Guardiola reaction 

"It was a Boxing Day game. It was a nice game to watch and three more points. We keep going. The quality of players we have produced this amount of actions to score goals. No manager and tactics can solve it without the quality. 

"It was weird. Even at 4-0 in the first half, every time they had the ball they arrived in the final third delivering good passes. They moved a lot of players. They have a lot of quality. They are a master of counter-attacks.

"They changed in the second half. The way they played they didn’t play to press high. They were close. The game was so dangerous. We didn’t play bad in the second half. Ruben Dias was not aggressive because he was one yellow card away from being suspended so he was more cautious. The game was not over. With set-pieces we could win the game."

Statzone

City are just the third side to score two penalties in the opening 25 minutes of a Premier League match, after West Ham v Manchester United in 2011 and Liverpool v Sheffield United in 2007. City are the first of those three to do so with two different scorers.

What it means

With Liverpool’s Boxing Day game at home to Leeds United postponed, City now have a six-point lead at the top of the Premier League. Third-placed Chelsea, who are nine points behind City, play this evening away at Aston Villa.

City have now won nine Premier League matches in succession.

English Premier League
1 Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal 14 12 1 1 33 11 22 37 WDWWW
2 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 14 10 2 2 40 14 26 32 LWWWL
3 Newcastle United FC Newcastle United Newcastle 15 8 6 1 29 11 18 30 WWWWW
Last updated: 17 November 2022

What’s next?

City’s final match of 2021 is our trip to Brentford on Wednesday 29 December.

Should we win that match, we would extend two significant football records. It would extend our record of top-flight calendar year wins to 36, with 19 of them coming away from home.

We then travel to Arsenal on New Year’s Day as our 2022 fixture list gets under way.

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