As a match going football fan there are some games which stick long in the memory. Sometimes this is because Manchester City have made a valiant attempt which ultimately resulted in failure and sometimes it is because the win cements a change in climate, a trophy or a major leap forwards.
Going into the home match against Leicester any observer would be forgiven thinking Manchester City were playing just for pride, such was the clamour in the media to heap praise upon Liverpool who sat at the top of the Premier League Table. As the Etihad Stadium started to fill, the crowd quickly reached full voice. The noise and throng of the fans which sparkled throughout seemed to propel the action on the pitch.
In those moments where the ball was lost, or tackles were misplaced the City crowd roared as though a goal had been scored. Sure, there were nerves around but the fans lifted each other to sustain the atmosphere making this one of my favourite experiences watching City.
City played like a team with a weight on their shoulders for much of this match, as though they were just trying a little too hard and what used to come naturally to them was being forced. Passes and composure went a little astray at times as they searched and probed. Yet the important thing was they continued to press and this took courage. Players received the ball and no one in this team hid under the weight of the pressure.
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The first attack of note saw David Silva slip the ball into Phil Foden on the edge of the area and his whipped shot was straight at Kasper Schmeichel in the Leicester goal. City continued to move in waves of pressing and even had their customary corner count racking up, more in hope than expectation!
A cross from the wing saw Sergio Aguero flick a header which Schmeichel knocked onto the cross bar before clawing out. The goal line decision system showed the whole ball did not cross the line. Silva had a sweet diagonal shot from the edge of the area which passed narrowly wide.
A rare moment of comedy to break the tension arose when Kyle Walker unleashed a trademark shot. We have seen enough of these over the last two seasons to know the shot could have gone anywhere. Somehow Walker managed to reach above the second tier of the South Stand which is no mean feat.
As the players trudged off the pitch at half time with the score still 0:0 the applause from the fans was clear. The second half started with a little more urgency from City but the final pass still seemed to go astray. Credit should be given to Leicester who pressed us relentlessly and still managed to restrict any space for our attackers on the wings. On the strength of this performance Leicester will be well placed next year to challenge for a European place at least, especially if they are able to add some attacking quality.
The best chance probably fell to Gundogan who saw his shot bounce just wide of the the post. Time was ticking away and we all knew that the chances were few and far between as we seemed to be creating few goal scoring chances.
It took our Captain Vincent Kompany to break the deadlock with the goal of the season. Stepping up to the edge of area and smashing the ball into the top corner of the goal . The roar of the fans as the ball hit the net was close to the noise in the Stadium when Aguero scored to seal the title some 7 years before.
There was so much to celebrate with this moment. Just when we needed some inspiration our Captain and leader stepped up and made the difference in the title race. Just like he has done before. If this is indeed the goal which brings the title back to Manchester for the second year in succession there could be few more worthy.
There was still 20 minutes left on the clock. City continued to press in search of a second goal but it just seemed out of reach. Gundogan found himself in space with Sane wide on the left, caught in two minds he hit a shot/pass which accomplished neither.
There was even time for Kompany to slip during one of the rare Leicester attacks. For all their endeavour Leicester lacked any real cutting edge and I struggle to recall a single shot on target. In fact Kelechi Iheanacho found himself through on goal for the first time in the last minutes of the game and scuffed his shot wide to the delight of City fans everywhere.
At the end of the match all the players and staff rushed to Kompany. There was more than just a goal and a win being celebrated on the pitch. The game felt like City had just put one hand on the Premier League Trophy. It is too early to start celebrating because there is still a match to go against a side who have proven to be stubborn opponents.
Guardiola said after the game all of the pressure is on City at this point. These are the moments where great players make a difference. Vincent Kompany stepped up and Manchester City love you more than you will ever know.