Phil Foden’s first-half strike was enough to earn Manchester City a 1-0 victory at Brentford on Wednesday night.
The win puts the Cityzens eight points clear at the Premier League summit, capitalising on Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat at Leicester the night before and Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Brighton that kicked off earlier on Wednesday evening.
It was a laboured performance from Pep Guardiola’s men, but one that signals ten consecutive league wins and one that cements their place at the top of the standings heading into 2022.
In what were tight opening exchanges, City breathed a sigh of relief after Ederson showed great reflexes to keep out Yoane Wissa’s deflected cross out of his net before Joao Cancelo cleared off the line from the resulting corner.
Overcoming that spell of Brentford pressure, Guardiola’s side broke forward and immediately took the lead. Kevin De Bruyne’s deliciously inch-perfect and first-time cross laid the ball on a plate for Foden, who produced a neat finish to convert from close range.
The starlet thought he’d doubled his side’s lead five minutes into the second half, heading in Gabriel Jesus’s whipped cross, only for a clear offside to be called by the linesman. The visiting side looked the likeliest to get the game’s second goal thereafter, and very nearly did as De Bruyne struck the upright with a daisy-cutter of a left-footed strike.
A 19th goal in four games wasn’t to materialise, however, with Aymeric Laporte also seeing a header disallowed with three minutes of the match remaining.
City eventually did enough to see out their 1-0 win, solidifying their place atop of the Premier League as the Bees 14th and nine points clear of the relegation zone.
Alvaro Fernandez (GK) – 5/10 – Couldn’t do much about Foden’s strike and wasn’t called upon that much afterwards.
Ethan Pinnock (CB) – 7/10 – Good positional awareness and bite in the challenge, looking equal to his star-studded opposition for most of the game.
Pontus Jansson (CB) – 7/10 – Should have done better to contain Foden for the opening goal but was largely commanding at the heart of the back three, registering nine defensive interventions.
Mads Sorensen (CB) – 6/10 – Invariably put his body on the line for his side and produced a couple of moments that really riled the crowd up.
Mads Roerslev (RWB) – 6/10 – Battled tenaciously against whoever popped up on City’s left wing, making two tackles and pressing incessantly.
Shandon Baptiste (CM) – 5/10 – Combative in his defensive duties but it would have been good to see him try and influence the game further upfield as he has shown he can do this season.
Mathias Jensen (CM) – 7/10 – Plugged gaps really cleverly to stifle and limit City’s ability to play through the hosts and managed four ball recoveries.
Frank Onyeka (CM) – 5/10 – Demonstrated some great dynamism while scurrying around the field but seemed to fade out of the game as time progressed.
Dominic Thompson (LWB) – 6/10 – Worked tirelessly, making three ball recoveries, and never wilted in the face of his opposition.
Yoane Wissa (ST) – 4/10 – Pressed diligently but never looked likely to produce the decisive moment that Brentford needed.
Ivan Toney (ST) – 5/10 – Provided a decent outlet for his side and put himself about throughout, notably engaging in some top-notch argy-bargy with Fernandinho.
Sergi Canos (ST) – 5/10
Mads Bidstrup (CM) – 5/10
Saman Ghoddos (LWB) – N/A
Ederson (GK) – 6/10 – Produced a good early stop to keep the game goalless and was subsequently largely untroubled.
Joao Cancelo (RB) – 7/10 – Breezed upfield in typical fashion, finding and using the ball so effectively in dangerous areas. Was also brilliant on the back foot, making five ball recoveries.
Ruben Dias (CB) – 6/10 – Looked bizarrely shaky in the first half, seemingly uncomfortable against Brentford’s energetic press and very nearly scoring an own goal, but regained his composure after the interval.
Aymeric Laporte (CB) – 6/10 – Played out of defence nicely, not misplacing a pass throughout, and was unlucky to be called just offside as he headed home late on.
Nathan Ake (LB) – 6/10 – Made a couple of good recovery tackles and proved very strong aerially.
Fernandinho (DM) – 7/10 – Distributed the ball brilliantly and showed his experience with some efficient screening of his back four.
Bernardo Silva (CM) – 6/10 – Floated around so elusively and was pivotal in a lot of his side’s build-up play, although failed to produce anything penetrating.
Kevin De Bruyne (CM) – 8/10 – Showed great energy in all facets of his game, knitted moves together really well and was the provenance of most things positive for the visitors. Put in a stunning ball to assist his side’s opener and was creator-in-chief throughout.
Gabriel Jesus (RW) – 5/10 – Popped up all over the shop but mostly failed to pierce through a resolute Brentford back line.
Jack Grealish (CF) – 4/10 – Good movement but was hardly involved in the action at all.
Phil Foden (LW) – 7/10 – Produced a clinical finish to open the scoring and was a general menace throughout, linking with colleagues sharply.