Manchester City climb over Liverpool thanks to a screamer from captain Kompany
Vincent Kompany scored a remarkable goal, his first of the season, to drive Manchester City towards retaining the Premier League title.
Finally it comes down to this: if City win at Brighton next Sunday, they will be champions. There is nothing Liverpool can then do to stop them in their final game at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Kompany’s goal felt as precious to City as the one he scored back in 2012, the header against Manchester United, that helped bring them their first Premier League title and the 33-year-old led the wild celebrations of relief as they finally broke down Leicester City, who had made it such a fraught evening.
It was City’s 100th goal at home in all competitions this season and they have scored few finer and none as dramatic as the powerful right-foot shot struck by the defender from fully 30 yards out. It made it a Blue Monday.
Incredibly, City have made it 13 wins in a row in a league and a 14th will mean they finish ahead of Liverpool and become the first team to retain the title since United back in 2009.
It was edgy, it was undeniably nervy and it was made more so by Leicester’s clear threat; by their intent and energy and organisation.
That was summed up by a smart move down their right in which James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira combined for the latter player to cut inside and create space for a low shot. Kompany threw himself to block it, with the ball rebounding off his back.
Pep Guardiola had made one change from the team that had edged past Burnley. Phil Foden was brought in and City’s first opportunity fell to him as he chested down Kyle Walker’s dinked pass only to half-volley a shot straight into the arms of Kasper Schmeichel.
It was the arm of Jonny Evans that then exercised City as they demanded a penalty when Raheem Sterling tried to lift the ball past the defender. It struck him from close range but Mike Dean, the referee, waved play on.
City won a corner and it was swung into the near post by Ilkay Gundogan where it was met by Sergio Aguero. He angled a header which struck the crossbar and bounced down but Schmeichel brilliantly pushed it away before it crossed the line, allowing Evans to hook it clear.
Leicester were tenacious, Wilfred Ndidi making four tackles in the first half plus four interceptions to add steel to the silk of the attacking players ahead of him.
The impetus was intensifying, the noise began to rise and Gundogan sent a shot skidding past the post as the cries of “Blue Moon” rang out.
But it still remained goalless with another penalty appeal ignored after Ben Chilwell proved too strong for Sterling before, for Leicester, Maguire set off on an extraordinary run down the left wing to set up Maddison, who shot wide.
Aguero again went close to breaking that deadlock as he flicked a shot, as he fell, which Schmeichel did extremely well to block. But he had no chance soon after.
Aymeric Laporte rolled the ball to defensive partner Kompany and he strode on, taking two touches before striking a fierce shot that arced away from the goalkeeper and tore into the top corner of the net. A wave of raucous relief rolled around the Etihad.
It rolled again, in the 87th minute, when former City striker Kelechi Iheanacho, on as a substitute, snatched at a clear shot at goal sending it wastefully wide. And that would have been some twist!