Kompany is Captain Fantastic … again
His teammates were screaming at him not to shoot, the home fans most probably thinking likewise. With 20 minutes left on the clock and the penultimate match in their Premier League season still a stalemate, the Etihad Stadium was growing tense. But, having collected the ball, Vincent Kompany strode forward, feinted, and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the Leicester City goal. If it was a surprise to almost everyone bar Kompany, the big Belgian has previously been the man for the big occasion. In 2012, Kompany scored a decisive header against Manchester United that proved pivotal in the title race. Last year, he struck in the League Cup final against Arsenal. Just when City needed him most, he delivered. A captain's contribution.
City sustain minus the midfield maestros
Once again, City ground out a victory without their two most important midfielders. Arguably their two most important players. Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho both continue to be sidelined by injury, robbing the champions of their key creative force and there only true specialist defensive midfielder. What is more, they are players the team look to in the most significant moments. Granted, the City squad is one of the most expensively assembled in history, but they have still needed to display their undeniable strength of character. A talented and in-form Leicester side represented a serious potential banana skin, but City came through. It is the mark of champions.
Old boy doesn’t come back to haunt City
Oh, but how things could have been different. Leicester had not really tested City during the second half, bar James Maddison’s effort just after the hour that curled wide of Ederson’s post. But, then, in the 87th minute, came the chance of the match. Ironically, it fell to a former City player to strike what would have felt a fatal blow to their title chances. Played in by Hamza Choudhury, and with only the goalkeeper to beat, Kelechi Iheanacho skewed horribly wide his shot. Hit first time, when seemingly easier to score, it was well off target. City breathed a heavy sigh of relief. The equaliser would have been doubly hard to take, given Iheanacho represented the club for two years from 2015, before transferring to Leicester. Yet he confirmed they were right to let him go.
Gutsy City edge Liverpool in 'flawless' title race
Speaking post-match to a British broadcaster in his role as television pundit, Gary Neville put aside reluctantly his allegiance to Manchester United to pay tribute to both City and Liverpool. He labelled the teams "near-perfect", celebrating their superb records this season, about their "flawless" title bids. He has a point. City's victory gave them a 13th successive win. After cruel elimination from the Uefa Champions League quarter-final, they defeated conquerors Tottenham Hotspur and city rivals United, in the space of four days. They haven't conceded in four matches. A 14th consecutive triumph – they take on Brighton & Hove Albion away on Sunday – would give them 98 points, two shy of last year's total. It is even more remarkable, though, considering Liverpool's lingering challenge. Jurgen Klopp's men could miss out on the title having accrued 97 points. Incredible.
Despite defeat, Leicester a team on the up
Kompany made no bones about it. City's victory was all the more impressive, he said, given the standard of opposition they had just overcome. "Basically a top-six team", is how the defender described Leicester, who held firm against and then frightened the champions. Despite the defeat, and the team sitting ninth in the table, the future appears bright. Since Brendan Rodgers took charge at the end of February, Leicester have lost only three matches from 10, and their comprehensive dismantling of Arsenal last week hinted at greater things to come. The only real impediment to progress is this summer, when the likes of Maddison, Harry Maguire, Wilfred Ndidi, Ben Chilwell and Choudhury will no doubt interest a number of prominent clubs. Keep their core, though, and Leicester could sustain a challenge against the traditional big boys next year.