LEICESTER, England (AP)Kevin de Bruyne’s perfectly-struck free kick was enough to overcome the absence of Erling Haaland as Manchester City went top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win at Leicester on Saturday.
De Bruyne curled in a set piece from 25 yards that went over the Leicester wall and in via the post in the 49th minute to secure a victory that lifted City one point above Arsenal ahead of the Gunners’ game against Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
”He’s back,” City manager Pep Guardiola said of De Bruyne, having publicly called on the Belgium midfielder recently to produce more. ”He was not playing good in the last games. (Today he was) amazing. He knows it.”
City had dominated the first half but lacked a clear focal point in attack after Haaland was ruled out with an ankle problem, the first time the Norway striker has missed a game this season.
Julian Alvarez was given his second league start of the season instead but couldn’t carve out many openings despite City being camped in Leicester’s half for much of the match.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers’ tactics were clear as the hosts sat back deep and defended compactly while waiting for chances to counterattack.
”There was no space. (Alvarez) moved really well but if you put the ball there it’s difficult,” Guardiola said. ”When they defend in this position it’s so difficult for all strikers.”
Youri Tielemans nearly equalized for Leicester in the 53rd with a spectacular volley from outside the area that forced a reaction save from Ederson as he tipped the ball onto the crossbar.
That was as close as Leicester came to rescuing a point. Substitute Kelechi Iheanacho wasted two decent chances when he shot well wide after being teed up in the area and then forced a fairly comfortable save from Ederson.
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