Rodrigo was the hero as he fired home a clinical late winner to help City to a fully-deserved three points in a 2-1 victory at Sheffield United.

Erling Haaland, who had missed a first half penalty, positively channelled his frustrations to hammer home a header just past the hour mark and open the scoring.

But the Blades levelled matters through substitute Jayden Bogle with the clock ticking down to full-time.

Just as you thought it would be a point apiece, Rodrigo – the star in Istanbul to earn the Treble – was at it again, blasting home an unstoppable drive to send the away fans wild.

The victory continued our unbeaten start in the Premier League as we clocked up our third win in three games, this one coming after defeats of Burnley and Newcastle.

WHAT HAPPENED?

‘You fill up my senses’ echoed around Bramall Lane as Blades fans kicked off the pre-match build-up with a rendition of John Denver’s ‘Annie’s Song’.

But it was City who looked to attack the home team’s faculties with a performance loaded with positive intent.

City settled into our familiar probing passing game from kick-off as we pressed for an opening with Sheffield United looking to soak up the pressure.

In that opening half, there weren’t a host of clear-cut chances for the Treble-winners, in truth, but we certainly should have been ahead at the break.

Nathan Ake thought he’d opened the scoring on 20 minutes when he nodded home but there was frustration for the elegant Dutch defender when he spotted the assistant’s flag up for an offside call on Rodrigo.

Julian Alvarez was denied by the busy Wes Foderingham on 27 minutes when he came on to the ball after Haaland – holding off John Egan – had a shot ricochet into the World Cup winner’s path down the left channel.

Then came the best chance of the opening period on 36 minutes.

Jack Grealish, buzzing down the left channel and causing the Blades all manner of problems, dinked a ball into the path of Alvarez.

The Argentine’s cross into the danger zone struck Egan’s arm and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Haaland was facing a keeper in Foderingham who’d saved his last three penalties but in the end the Blades No.18 didn’t need any heroics as the Premier League Player and Young Player of the Year smashed his spot-kick against the post.

There was a collective gasp around the stadium – and among many an FPL devotee - with the star striker fully expected to open the scoring.

If Haaland was surprised with that miss, he was shocked when he didn’t win another penalty in first half stoppage time.

Bernardo played a pinpoint cross into the box and Haaland, seemingly hauled to the deck, looked frantically towards the referee but the official waved away the appeal.

City’s unrelenting approach continued as the second half started, with Pep Guardiola’s team – overseen today by his assistant Juanma Lillo – eyed a breakthrough.

Haaland, a focused figure as he came out of the tunnel for the second period, met a wonderfully clinical ball in from the right by Kyle Walker on 51 minutes but the forward’s prod goalwards went just wide of the post.

It was a similar result for Rodrigo on 58 minutes when he shuffled his feet before firing a low left foot drive marginally past the post.

Foderingham produced a magnificent save on the hour mark, tipping an onrushing Haaland’s left foot chip over the bar. He then denied Alvarez moments later with another fine save at his near post.

Haaland wasn’t to be denied, though, on 63 minutes when he rose beautifully to meet Grealish’s exquisite cross from the left.

The Norwegian had the ball in the net again, on 71 minutes, but the assistant’s flag went up with the hungry forward breaking forward a little bit too soon with his run.

The Blades enjoyed a rare attack on 73 minutes when Gustavo Hamer fired goalwards but Ruben Dias put his body on the line to block bravely – and brilliantly.

City were back on the attack on 79 minutes, Alvarez seeing a dipping free-kick well kept out by Foderingham.

There were home screams for a penalty on 82 minutes with Benie Traore going toe-to-toe with Walker but replays showed there was a slip from the pacey winger.

Bogle levelled matters with a driven strike on 85 minutes – and it looked like that would be that.

But Rodrigo fired home an unstoppable winner on 88 minutes to break Blades hearts.

TEAMS

SHEFF UTD: Foderingham, Baldock (Bogle 71’), Robinson, Egan, Ahmedhodzic, Osborn (Larouci 17’), Hamer, Norwood (Basham 80’), Souza, Osula (McBurnie 71’), Traore

Unused subs: Davies, Trusty, Coulibaly, Marsh, Brooks

CITY XI: Ederson, Walker (C), Dias, Ake, Gvardiol, Rodrigo, Kovacic (Foden 86’), Bernardo, Grealish, Alvarez, Haaland

Unused subs: Ortega Moreno, Phillips, Doku, Gomez, Bobb, Palmer, Lewis, McAtee

LILLO REACTION

On Pep Guardiola‘s absence: “During the match I spoke to him at some moments but generally he was speaking to other members of the technical staff.

“He has been totally present today.

“If there was more space on the bench I wouldn’t have sat in his seat.

“Pep’s seat is Pep’s seat. He was there with us the whole time.

“I much prefer being with Pep and especially when it’s a question of health I don’t enjoy this at all.

“When I was here before - and now - he was encouraging us all to be involved. We need his presence more than ever.”

Rodrigo reaction

“We worked a lot today.

“It’s one of the games where you have to be patient until the end because they’re very narrow.

“Great credit to them. They defended so good today. In the end, we had the first chance with the penalty and unfortunately we missed.

“But we kept trying and trying till the end. Erling needed one, two, three chances but he is a goalscorer and he scored for us.

“The mistake for the goal cannot happen again.

“The mentality of the game didn’t drop, we kept going and at the end I got the goal so I am very happy.”

Player of the Match: Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish was a constant thorn in Sheffield United’s side as he prodded and probed down the left channel at Bramall Lane.

Grealish earned the penalty in the first period when his cross was handled in the box by John Egan.

The wideman also set up Erling Haaland for the opening goal, floating the ball to the back post for the striker to head home.

WHAT IT MEANS

City are top of the Premier League after today’s 2-1 win over Sheffield United.

We have the maximum nine points from three points and move from fifth to first, leapfrogging Brighton, Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham, the Hammers previously sitting on the summit of the table.

Premier League
1 Liverpool FC Liverpool Liverpool 27 19 6 2 64 25 39 63 LWWWW
2 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 26 18 5 3 59 26 33 59 WWDWW
3 Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal 26 18 4 4 62 23 39 58 WWWWW
Last updated: 3 March 2024

WHAT’S NEXT

We’re back at the Etihad Stadium for our next game – a Premier League encounter with Fulham.

The game takes place on Saturday 2 September with a 15:00 (UK) kick-off.

It’s been a real mixed bag for Marco Silva’s men so far this season as they get set to head north to Manchester.

Next Fixture

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Premier League

Man City
Manchester City

GMT

Man United
Manchester United FC

They opened up their campaign with a 1-0 away win over Everton, Bobby de Cordova-Reid scoring a 73rd minute winner.

The Cottagers were then soundly beaten 3-0 at home to Brentford in the West London derby before earning a fine 2-2 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, the impressive João Palhinha hitting an 87th minute leveller.

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