Premier League: Riyad Mahrez on Target as Manchester City Beat Leicester City
Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus scored to cancel out Jamie Vardy's opener as Manchester City ended Leicester City's nine-match unbeaten run with a 3-1 win.
Manchester City (Photo Credit: Reuters)
Manchester: Manchester City brought Leicester City back down to earth as they recovered from conceding an early goal to win 3-1 in the battle for second place in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Jamie Vardy's 17th goal of the season gave Leicester the lead in the 22nd minute but City showed they are not to be completely discounted in the pursuit of leaders Liverpool with a commanding display to end Leicester's nine-match unbeaten run.
Former Leicester playmaker Riyad Mahrez equalised soon afterwards with a clinical finish and Ilkay Gundogan's penalty, after Raheem Sterling had been fouled by Ricardo Pereira, sent City into halftime with a lead.
Man City were dominant and the majestic Kevin De Bruyne, who ran the game in the second half, set up Gabriel Jesus to seal the points from close range with 20 minutes remaining.
With leaders Liverpool otherwise engaged in winning the World Club Cup in Doha, here was a battle between the two clubs in distant pursuit and it was champions City who looked the more likely to have any chance of bridging the gap.
They remain 11 points behind in third, having also played a game more than Liverpool, while Leicester, who had won eight and drawn won of their previous nine games, are a point better off. It does not get any easier for Leicester with unbeaten Liverpool up next.
City manager Pep Guardiola found himself without his number two Mikel Arteta after his fellow Spaniard was confirmed as Arsenal manager on Friday, but described his side's vibrant display as one of the best of the season.
"We created a lot and played incredibly well with the ball," he said. "We were incredibly aggressive up front to stop them playing and we did well playing simple one-two touch and then pass. Kevin De Bruyne was spectacular today."
City's weakness has been in defence this season and they were again exposed in the 22nd minute as Leicester took the lead with a counter-attack of real quality.
Harvey Barnes's pass sent Vardy away and he outpaced Fernandinho before calmly chipping Ederson.
City's response was emphatic, Mahrez cutting in from the right before firing a deflected low shot past Kasper Schmeichel.
When referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot after Pereira's rash tackle on Sterling, Gundogan converted to put the home side in control before the break.
But for Schmeichel, Leicester could have suffered a heavier defeat and manager Brendan Rodgers admitted it was a wake-up call for his players.
"Tonight is a good lesson for us of the work we still need to do to get to the level City are at," he said.
"We kept going and fighting but it wasn't the best of ourselves. City were outstanding."
Guardiola was not about to start issuing warnings to Liverpool, though.
"When we lose it is a disaster and impossible; when we win it is possible to catch them," Guardiola shrugged, before pointing out: "We are one point behind Leicester."
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