Vincent Kompany struck a sensational winner as Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League with a dramatic and tense 1-0 win over Leicester.
City’s long-serving and influential captain netted with a ferocious long-range shot to settle nerves after 70 minutes of a nail-biting contest at the Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s treble-chasing side had needed to win to retain control of their title destiny and their 13th successive victory took them a point above Liverpool with just one game remaining.
It was anything but straightforward as Leicester, under the guidance of former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, proved tough defensively and a threat on the break.
Yet City, knowing the importance of victory, gave it everything. They were again missing the midfield composure of Fernandinho but made their usual high-energy start.
Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling tore down the right and left flanks respectively and cut inside menacingly while Phil Foden, again trusted by Guardiola in another key fixture, was also lively.
Leicester were also relishing the contest and it was the visitors who created the first serious opening when Ricardo Pereira skipped into the area and had his shot blocked by Kompany. Marc Albrighton’s follow-up effort was also charged down.
City threatened as Foden chested down and volleyed at Kasper Schmeichel before Youri Tielemans forced a low save from Ederson.
Sterling then raced behind the defence and flicked the ball onto Jonny Evans’ arm but penalty appeals were half-hearted and dismissed by referee Mike Dean.
A sign of City tension came as David Silva was booked for a cynical challenge on Tielemans which prevented a breakaway from inside his own half.
But City then started to take control. Bernardo Silva weaved through the area to tee up Ilkay Gundogan but the German’s effort was blocked and Foden also fired into a crowded box.
Sergio Aguero hit the bar with a thumping header and Schmeichel did brilliantly to claw the ball off the line as it bounced down.
Sterling was then denied in the area by a fine tackle from Wilfred Ndidi and further chances fell to Gundogan and Bernardo Silva as City finished the half on top.
There was another moment of alarm, however, as Kompany was booked for bringing down James Maddison in full flow.
City brought on Leroy Sane and poured all their efforts into attack after the break. Sterling and Bernardo Silva had half-chances before Gundogan dragged an effort wide.
City appealed for another penalty as Sterling went down under a Hamza Choudhury challenge but nothing was given and the Foxes almost caught the hosts out as Maddison flashed an effort wide.
The tension increased and the anxiety was evident as Aguero was denied at point-blank range by Schmeichel after Evans miskicked.
But such moments are made for Kompany, City’s man for the big occasion.
Few expected the skipper to shoot when the ball fell to him 30 yards out but it sat up nicely and he let fly with a ferocious strike. Schmeichel had no chance as the ball swerved away from him into the top corner.
The celebrations from Kompany, Guardiola and almost everyone connected with the home side were exuberant and emotional but the game still had to be closed out.
Hearts will have been in mouths when former City striker Kelechi Iheanacho got clear but he missed the target.
It was tight but City held on – and they have the edge heading into the final round of fixtures.
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