Leicester City 2-1 Manchester City
A brilliant late winner by Ricardo Pereira gave Leicester City a stunning victory over Manchester City as the champions fell to third place in the Premier League race.
us football fans have a brilliant second half of the season to look forward to, and this Manchester City team will be right there to the end. But Pep Guardiola’s men won’t have it all their own way.
The big pre-match news was that Kevin De Bruyne was fit to start his first game of the campaign. But even he couldn’t help City avoid back-to-back defeats, and with Liverpool and Spurs winning 4-0 and 5-0 respectively, the Boxing Day league table makes grim reading for Pep.
Highlights of the game
Manchester City bossed the early exchanges without much penetration, but they didn’t have to wait too long before they pierced the Foxes’ defence. It was an incisive move as Sergio Aguero collected the ball deep in the Leicester half and poked it through to Bernardo Silva who took a touch before sliding the ball past Kasper Schmeichel.
Bernardo Silva celebrates with teammate Sergio Aguero after scoring the opening goal
It’s not so long ago that Sky Blues’ fans didn’t have to worry too much about Premier League 2018 updates, happy in the knowledge their team was almost unanimously agreed to be gliding to another title. But recent results left Pep’s team trailing Liverpool and just two points ahead of Spurs, and that unsettled one or two in the away end when the news came through that both were ahead.
A few more were worried on 19 minutes when Leicester equalised with a brilliant counter-attack. James Maddison swept the ball out to Jamie Vardy on the left, and his cross was expertly headed back across goal and into the corner of the net by Marc Albrighton.
Kevin De Bruyne hit a 30-yard rocket straight at Schmeichel as the champions launched wave after wave of attack. The Foxes did have a chance to go ahead, but Vardy’s attempt was well saved by Ederson; the visitors’ keeper also kept out Maddison’s follow-up. Teams tend to up their game when the champions come to town, and Leicester were certainly doing just that.
Harry Maguire was working particularly hard and did brilliantly to head clear when Aymeric Laporte threatened early in the second half before he swept away a dangerous cross from Raheem Sterling. Manchester City ramped up the pressure and Leroy Sane twice came close, struggling to get his shot away when there was panic in the hosts’ penalty area; they failed to get onto the end of a De Bruyne centre in a sweeping move.
Guardiola played his hand with 20 minutes remaining, taking off De Bruyne and bringing on David Silva. The Sky Blues continued the press while Laporte ably patrolled the back when Leicester did make the occasional foray forward. That was until Ricardo Pereira popped up on 81 minutes to give the Foxes a shock lead with a stunning goal.
Ricardo Pereira celebrates scoring their second goal
Sane cleared a Leicester corner at the near post to Pereira around 25 yards out. And instead of lobbing the ball back into the mix, he fired a beauty through a forest of legs. The ball flew into the corner to send the King Power crowd delirious.
And it got a whole lot worse for one City player as Fabian Delph headed off for an early bath, a minute before the 90, after an ugly studs-up challenge on Pereira earned him a straight red.
For all their 67 per cent possession, the Champions could only muster one more shot than Leicester, with 11 to ten, and they paid the ultimate price.
It was only the second time in 11 years that Manchester City lost on Boxing Day, and the first time the Foxes have avoided defeat since their promotion in 2014. Moreover, it ends a run of three consecutive defeats against the Sky Blues.
Having beaten Chelsea last week and now Manchester City, you’d think Leicester head coach Claude Puel will be safe for another week or so. The Foxes are at home to Cardiff City on Saturday then bring the New Year in with a trip to Europa-chasing rivals Everton.
The Premier League 2018 betting markets have taken a fascinating twist over the last few days as Pep Guardiola’s favourites have wobbled spectacularly. The Sky Blues head to the south coast to take on an improving Southampton, then on the 3rd January, they have a chance to peg back Liverpool when Jurgen Klopp brings his league leaders to the Etihad.
What a game that will be!
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