Leicester City's stubborn determination was shattered by a fantastic Kevin De Bruyne free-kick that gave Manchester City three points and a place at the top of the Premier League on Saturday midday.
Brendan Rodgers explained ahead of the game how to keep City at bay. "It's all about taking their space," he explained. "If the space is there, they will take advantage of it." Leicester followed their coach's instructions, quickly dropping into a compact 5-4-1 after the ball to close the gaps between the lines.
In the first quarter of an hour, the guests, who started without Haaland, were rarely able to get in front of their own goal, but Leicester gained confidence and took advantage of the opportunities to sneak out of the tightly packed back team.
However, it would be extremely misleading to suggest that the first half was anything but one-sided - literally. 80 per cent of all passes made in the first 45 minutes took place in the Leicester half.
Manchester City tried a variety of approaches to crack Leicester's net. They moved the ball from one cross to the other, bombarded the penalty area with runners from deep and sneaked up front with complicated passes.
It took a sensational De Bruyne free-kick to put the visitors ahead five minutes after the restart. 25 yards from goal, the Belgian pulled his boot down the middle and sent the ball on a dangerous trajectory that smacked the post before landing in the net.
Apart from a brief bounce from behind, Leicester did not regain their form and let the visitors have possession in front of their own goal for much of the second half.
Rodgers brought on Kelechi Iheanacho and Patson Daka in the final 20 minutes to put his side up a few yards and unsettle City's underpowered back.
The substitute duo forced Ederson to make late saves but City were able to hold onto the narrow lead as De Bruyne made the difference in the absence of the injured Erling Haaland.
TW: Ederson - Grade: 7/10 - Was alert when challenged despite being inactive for most of the game. RV: John Stones - Grade: 5/10 - Spent most of the game in midfield trying to outplaying the opponent without having much success.IV: Manuel Akanji - Grade: 6/10 - Was not overly active defensively and left attempts to break Leicester to his teammates.IV: Aymeric Laporte - Grade: 6/10 - Often threaded the ball through the first line of Leicester's block, setting City's possession game on its way.LV: Joao Cancelo - Grade: 6/10 - Alternating with Grealish, Cancelo was City's widest player on the left and played some smooth passes between the Leicester legs.CM: Kevin De Bruyne - Grade: 8/10 - Aside from his magic moment, De Bruyne ran around in search of the ball and space to find a gap in the blue wall .ZM: Rodri - Grade: 6/10 - Directed City's attacks from from the base of midfield.CM: Ilkay Gündogan - Grade: 5/10 - Charged forward from midfield and made life difficult for Leicester's well-manned back line.RA: Bernardo Silva - Grade: 5/10 - Held up a very wide position on the right side and tried to widen the opponent, but was often left alone. ST: Julian Alvarez - Grade: 5/10 - Played hard, but was caught in a blue sea for long stretches of the game and was able to get out of the Missing Haaland didn't capitalize.LA: Jack Grealish - Grade: 5/10 - Had no room to run with the ball and was limited to small crosses that always proved to be dead ends.Substitute: Ruben Dias (72. for Akanji) - Grade: 5/10Substitute: Phil Foden (77th for Alvarez) - No gradeTrainer: Pep Guardiola - Grade: 4/10 - You can't give him much credit for watching his team perform in the offensive was paralyzed before De Bruyne saved him.
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This article was originally published on 90min.com as Leicester win: The Manchester City players individual review.