Leicester City 0-1 Man City: Kevin De Bruyne free-kick sends champions top of the Premier League | Football News

Kevin De Bruyne’s sublime second-half free-kick was enough to hand a Man City side missing Erling Haaland a 1-0 win at Leicester City as the Premier League champions went top of the table.

In a tightly fought contest at the King Power on Saturday lunchtime, Pep Guardiola’s side secured “a massive win” thanks to De Bruyne’s swerving 49th-minute free-kick that sailed up and over the Leicester wall from 25 yards out, before finding the back of the net off the inside of the post with Danny Ward helpless.

As a result, City made light of the absence of the Premier League’s top scorer, who had started every game this season following his summer move, scoring 22 goals, but had not recovered from an ankle knock in time to feature, to move a point clear of Arsenal at the top of the table before their home clash with Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

De Bruyne puts Man City 1-0 up

Leicester, meanwhile, stay one place above the drop zone ahead of the rest of Saturday’s top-flight fixtures after seeing their three-match winning run at the King Power, during which time they had not conceded, come to an end.

Player ratings

Leicester Ward (7), Justin (7), Amartey (6), Faes (7), Soyuncu (7), Castagne (6), Dewsbury-Hall (6), Tielemans (7), Barnes (7), Maddison (6), Vardy (6)

Subs: Iheanacho (7), Daka (6), Mendy (6)

Man City: Ederson (7), Cancelo (7), Stones (6), Laporte (6), Akanji (6), Gundogan (6), Rodri (7), De Bruyne (8), Grealish (7), Alvarez (6), Silva (7)

Subs: Diaz (6), Foden (6)

Man of the match: Kevin De Bruyne

How City went top of the table

Leicester took on City having returned to form of late after winning their last three games at home without conceding, but with a change of shape as Brendan Rodgers switched to a 3-4-3.

However, three at the back actually turned into five in the first half as City dominated both possession and territory, pushing their hosts back right from the start, albeit without really testing Ward.

That all changed, though, after half-time as City came out in a different gear, almost taking the lead straight from the restart as Rodri fired a low drive inches past the post, before the visitors did make the breakthrough.

Team news

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers made two changes, with Jamie Vardy back in attack in place of Patson Daka, who dropped to the bench.

Meanwhile, centre-back Caglar Soyuncu was also handed his first Premier League start since May as Leicester switched to a 3-4-3, with Boubakary Soumare missing out with injury.

Meanwhile, the big news coming out of the City camp was the absence of the Premier League’s top scorer, Erling Haaland, with injury as manager Pep Guardiola made seven alterations from the team that drew at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in midweek. The striker had started every game this season following his summer move, scoring 22 goals, but had not recovered from an ankle knock.

Also starting were Kevin De Bruyne, Ederson and Jack Grealish, but England international Phil Foden was only fit enough for a place on the bench.

Jack Grealish was bundled over to hand City a free-kick 25 yards out, just left of centre, with De Bruyne doing what he does best, arching a gorgeous strike over the wall for his seventh goal from outside box since start of last season.

That strike opened the game up, with Leicester almost drawing level immediately in spectacular style as from James Maddison’s left-wing corner picked out Youri Tielemans on the edge of the area, with the Foxes skipper’s first-time volley brilliantly tipped on to the bar by Ederson’s outstretched hand.

Thereafter, the home team pushed for an equaliser, but in vain, as City saw the game out to go top, for now at least.

Be afraid, De Bruyne is back to his brilliant best

Analysis by Sky Sports’ Richard Morgan:

It is ominous for the rest of the Premier League that Man City manager Pep Guardiola thinks Kevin De Bruyne is only just starting to regain the sort of form that has seen the Belgian labelled as the best midfielder in the Premier League.

De Bruyne was City’s match-winner against Leicester City at the King Power, arching in a 25-yard free-kick early in the second half to decide a hard-fought contest and send his side top of the table on Saturday night.

That strike was the 31-year-old’s third in the league this season after he netted in last weekend’s win over Brighton, while he also has a Premier League-high nine assists to his name.

And his manager says De Bruyne is now back to his best.

“Kevin can do free-kicks, we know it,” Guardiola said after the game. “But he is a player who needs his dynamic. He has the quality when he moves, he needs movement and today he was back.

“We need him. It is not about he can’t do it. Over the past seven years we have done everything together, except the Champions League.

“I know him quite well. Nothing is going to change my opinion of him or what he has done for this club or for me personally.

“But I have the duty in my job to say I want more. In the game against Brighton, he scored a fantastic goal, but we need more. He can do that blind, naturally. We need both and today was the case.”

Opta stats – Can Man City play Leicester every week?

  • Leicester City have now lost each of their last four Premier League home matches against Manchester City without scoring a single goal, their longest ever losing run at home to City in the competition.
  • Leicester City have now lost 100 home matches in the Premier League, becoming the 12th side to suffer 100 defeats at home in the competition.
  • Manchester City haven’t conceded a first-half goal in any of their last eight Premier League fixtures, their longest such run since November-December 2021 (10), which also included a victory over Leicester City (6-3).
  • Manchester City have now won 22 Premier League games in 2022, more than any other side in the competition, with their two losses also being the fewest of any side this year.
  • Leicester City registered just 35% possession against Manchester City, their lowest in a Premier League game this season; in fact, four of the last seven times they’ve registered 35% possession or less have been in matches against Manchester City.
  • Despite being without Erling Haaland, Manchester City attempted 29 crosses in this match (including corners); their joint-most in a Premier League game this season (also 29 v Crystal Palace).

What the managers said…

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers:

“I think the players deserve a lot of credit, they carried out the game plan we wanted in terms of staying in the game.

“It’s not the way we usually play but we have to respect arguably the best team in the world. We defended well in those moments.

“They had lots of the ball but our players stood up very strong to that and didn’t give away too many opportunities.

“By the end we could have had something from the game. We were unfortunate not to get something.”

Man City boss Pep Guardiola:

“Nobody knows what would have happened with Erling Haaland.

“Erling played against Bournemouth in the shape like Leicester played with five at the back, four in the middle and Vardy dropping and he struggled. It is difficult.

“The best thing I can say, in this type of game, is don’t get frustrated when you attack. If you concede a goal it is almost a hill to climb that would not be possible. So don’t get frustrated and concede free-kicks and corners.

“We won but maybe one corner, one set-piece situation and you can draw the game.

“It is a massive victory because Leicester away is always tough. We arrived in the best moment for them and it was good to go to the top of the league.”

Guardiola says Haaland will definitely miss the midweek Champions League game with Sevilla and will be assessed ahead of the Fulham game next week.

“I am pretty sure against Sevilla, no. First because we have qualified. Against Fulham we will see. We have seven days until then so we will see,” he added.

Player of the Match – Kevin De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne takes a shot at goal

Kevin De Bruyne takes a shot at goal

In a game low on quality, one man stood out and that was Man City’s match winner, whose gorgeous free-kick at the start of the second half was enough to decide a cagey contest at the King Power.

As De Bruyne stood over the ball four minutes after the interval, most people in the ground knew what was about to happen, and that is because the Belgian has history when it comes to scoring from outside the area.

When the playmaker’s swerving strike flew over the Leicester wall and into the net, it was his 25th Premier League goal from outside the box – the ninth-highest tally of anyone in the competition’s history, and the most of any active player.

In fact, among those players to have scored 50 or more goals in the Premier League, only David Beckham (55 per cent) and Christian Eriksen (44 per cent) have netted a higher percentage of their goals from outside the box than Kevin De Bruyne (42 per cent – 25/60).

England Watch

In the battle of the potential England playmakers at this winter’s World Cup, it was City’s Jack Grealish who won this particular individual contest, although whether that will be enough to convince Gareth Southgate to start him in Qatar remains to be seen.

Manchester City's Jack Grealish is challenged by Youri Tielemans

Manchester City’s Jack Grealish is challenged by Youri Tielemans

Grealish was a constant threat to the hosts’ defence at the King Power, always willing to carry the ball up field even when under pressure, as he did in the run that brought about the free-kick from which his team scored their winner.

James Maddison, in contrast, was quiet throughout and when his side needed him to bring about a response, he struggled to make an impact.

What’s next?

Saturday 5th November 5:00pm

Kick off 5:30pm

City now have four consecutive home matches between now and the World Cup break. Pep Guardiola’s champions host Sevilla to end their Champions League group stage campaign on Wednesday night, before taking on three west London sides in a row at the Etihad Stadium.

City host Fulham in the Premier League on November 5, before taking on Chelsea in the Carabao Cup four days later. Brentford are the last visitors to City’s ground before the World Cup break.

Leicester‘s next challenge is a Saturday Night Football clash at Everton next weekend, live on Sky Sports, with kick-off at 5.30pm. Brendan Rodgers’ side then host Newport County in the third round of the Carabao Cup before ending this pre-World Cup stint of the Premier League with a trip to West Ham.


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