For one glorious moment on Monday night, it was as if everyone inside the Etihad Stadium were mere supporting acts as Vincent Kompany lived his wildest dream.
For all his attributes, the 33-year-old centre-back is hardly renowned for his technical prowess from range but with one emphatic swing of his right boot, he came to Manchester City‘s aid when they needed it the most and broke Liverpudlian hearts.
It seemed Brendan Rodgers was going to do former employers Liverpool a massive favour as his Leicester City side kept the hosts at bay for 70 minutes after Sergio Aguero hit the bar and brought a great save out of Kasper Schmeichel.
Kompany wouldn’t have it though. His stunning strike from distance put City back on top of the Premier League by one point heading into the final day.
FOXES BRING BITE
Given Leicester’s form ever since Rodgers’ appointment, they were always going to ask questions of City. Jamie Vardy’s pace in behind was identified as a potential threat against the defending champions’ high defensive line but it was the visitors’ general energy on the break that made them so dangerous.
They fired a couple of warning shots inside the opening 10 minutes with Ricardo Pereira even striking a floored Kompany in the back. James Maddison pushing up and infield to support the striker in the transition was key while Ben Chilwell and Hamza Choudhury worked hard to plug the space on the left.
They showed plenty of bite in defence as well, remaining compact while the likes of Jonny Evans and Wilfred Ndidi pulled off some exceptional challenges.
ETIHAD ON EDGE
City had been near-perfect in the league for so long, winning each of their previous 12 matches in England’s top flight, but in the penultimate game of their title defence, they were desperate for an early goal to settle the nerves but that was not forthcoming.
The atmosphere inside the Etihad Stadium grew tense as early as the 15th minute and when Aguero’s flicked header from a corner kick was inches from crossing the line, many may have feared it was just going to be one of those days for City.
Urgency morphed into desperation even in the first half, as portrayed by reckless lunges from David Silva and Kompany on Maddison on separate occasions. Each earned a booking for their efforts.
In the technical area, Pep Guardiola paced up and down anxiously for the entire contest with the champions clinging on at the death. It was indicative of the enormous challenge that Liverpool have posed and the hard work that’s gone into first, catching up to them, and then keeping them at bay – week in, week out.
FOOTBALL DEFIES LOGIC
You couldn’t script it. City had huffed and puffed but, with 17 shots fired at Leicester’s goal, to no avail and by the 70th minute, the hosts were running out of ideas and belief.
Fortunately, one man who’s never short of the latter also happens to wear their armband. Kompany has made telling contributions to City’s success over the years and in a season during which he’s largely played a bit-part role, his stunning goal to break the deadlock arguably outranks them all.
With Aguero coming agonisingly close on two separate occasions, David Silva struggling to create and Raheem Sterling running into brick walls or down blind alleys, it was Kompany’s bolt from the blue which rescued City.
Rarely have we witnessed the Belgian pull the trigger from that range and few would even think him capable of such a technically impeccable strike.
It doesn’t make much sense, but how often does football adhere to logic?
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