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Riyad Mahrez, Manchester City Beat Leicester City 3-1 in Premier League

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2019

Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez, right, celebrates with Raheem Sterling after scoring his side's first goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Leicester City at Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Rui Vieira/Associated Press

Manchester City won Saturday's marquee Premier League clash, beating Leicester City 3-1. Riyad Mahrez was the star man for the hosts, scoring a deserved goal in the win.

Jamie Vardy opened the scoring against the run of play, but Mahrez equalised soon after, and Ilkay Gundogan converted a penalty late in the first half. Gabriel Jesus added to the score after the break.

The defeat snapped a nine-match unbeaten run in the league for Leicester, who still sit in second place in the table, 10 points behind leaders Liverpool and one point ahead of Man City.

Expectations for this match were high, and the first half did not disappoint.

The Sky Blues had the upper hand initially, with Mahrez finding plenty of success out wide and Kevin De Bruyne hitting the post after 14 minutes.

Kasper Schmeichel made a fine save to deny former team-mate Mahrez before Vardy gave the visitors a surprise lead, using his tremendous pace to get away from Fernandinho and latch onto an inch-perfect pass from Harvey Barnes before dinking the ball over the onrushing Ederson:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Jamie Vardy has now scored 17 Premier League goals this season, at least six more than any other player in the division. He *loves* these games. 🎉 https://t.co/vPGjFRVDSU

Both Raheem Sterling and Vardy had excellent chances to score before Mahrez tied things up on the half-hour mark. A corner wasn't cleared well enough, and the Algerian cut inside past Ben Chilwell before firing home via a deflection.

He was the clear standout during the first half, per Oliver Holt of Mail on Sunday:

Oliver Holt @OllieHolt22

Mahrez absolutely unplayable in this first half

Mahrez nearly doubled his tally six minutes later, curling a free-kick agonisingly close to the top corner.

Kevin De Bruyne also tested Schmeichel, with City increasing the intensity toward the end of the half, and they were rewarded when Ricardo Pereira brought down Sterling inside the box. Former U.S. international Jimmy Conrad couldn't believe it:

Jimmy Conrad @JimmyConrad

I'm a huge Ricardo fan but what's he doing there? Why dive in? Just move your feet.

VAR confirmed the decision, and Gundogan converted the spot-kick.

The final chance of the half fell to the visitors, but Ederson made a fine diving save to deny James Maddison, and Youri Tielemans' follow-up was blocked.

Leicester started the second half well, but City soon took control of the ball and did a fine job of slowing the pace. Chances grew far rarer than before the break, with Mahrez firing narrowly after 58 minutes.

Ederson had to come off his line quickly to deny Barnes, injuring the Leicester player in the process. He had to come off for Marc Albrighton. 

Schmeichel got down quickly to save a dangerous Mahrez effort before Jesus finally bagged the third goal City needed to feel safe. De Bruyne made it possible with a superb run and pass, drawing praise from Bleacher Report's Aaron West:

Aaron West @oeste

Kevin De Bruyne is so enjoyable to watch it actually starts to get annoying to try and quantify why. His vision, technique, execution, execution *at speed* is so so pure, it’s incredible.

The Belgian nearly got a goal of his own but found Schmeichel in his path, and he came off shortly after with what looked like a cramp. That gave Sergio Aguero a short run-out, his first minutes since the 2-1 win over Chelsea on November 23.

    

What's Next?

Man City visit Wolverhamtpton Wanderers on Friday. Leicester will host Liverpool on Boxing Day.