LEICESTER: Manchester City moved ever closer to a third Premier League title in four seasons as a rare goal from Benjamin Mendy and Gabriel Jesus’s strike earned a 2-0 win at third-placed Leicester on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s men now hold a commanding 17-point lead at the top of the table, albeit Manchester United can cut into that gap with two games in hand.
However, it appears a matter of when, not if, City will reclaim the status of English champions after losing their crown to Liverpool last season.
City are even aiming to go one better than their domestic treble of Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup two years ago by winning a first ever quadruple in English football history. That would mean winning the Champions League for the first time and Guardiola showed that competition remains the priority with his team selection ahead of Borussia Dortmund’s trip to the Etihad for the first leg of their quarterfinal tie on Tuesday.
John Stones, Joao Cancelo, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling were among the star names left on the bench after their exertions on international duty over the past 10 days.
Yet, the visitors were still dominant against a Leicester side that had lost just twice in their previous 16 Premier League games.
Sergio Aguero was given a rare start up front just days after the Argentine announced his glorious 10-year stay in Manchester will come to a close at the end of the season.
However, his presence denied City an early opener when Fernandinho’s long-range strike arrowed into the bottom corner only for the goal to be disallowed as Aguero was standing in an offside position in front of Kasper Schmeichel.
Leicester are one of only three teams to beat City in the league this season, having romped to a 5-2 victory at the Etihad in September.
Jamie Vardy scored a hat-trick that day and thought he had added to his excellent record against City in first half stoppage time when he rounded Ederson to slot into an empty net, only to also be denied by the offside flag.
City’s dominance of possession and patience was finally rewarded just before the hour mark from an unlikely source.
Riyad Mahrez stung the palms of his former teammate Schmeichel, but from the rebound, the ball fell at the feet of Mendy at the back post, who cut onto his weaker right foot and scored just his second goal in four seasons as a City player.
Guardiola could then afford the luxury of introducing Sterling as Leicester had to open up and chase an equalizer.
And the England international created the killer second goal as he was released in behind by a brilliant pass from Kevin De Bruyne before squaring for Jesus to score on his 24th birthday.
Thanks to Chelsea’s shock 5-2 thrashing by West Brom earlier on Saturday, Leicester still enjoy a five-point cushion over the Blues and seven-point advantage over fifth-placed West Ham in the race for a top-four finish and Champions League football next season.
But Brendan Rodgers’s men will be looking over their shoulders anxiously over the next few days as the Hammers, Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton all have the chance to close in on the top four.