Kuala Lumpur Post

Sports

Man City cruise to victory against Sheffield United

MANCHESTER, England — Manchester City ended a run of three successive Premier League home draws with a comfortable 2-0 victory over bottom club Sheffield United to move up to third spot and round off a memorable year on Saturday.

Goals by Rodri and Julian Alvarez in each half barely did justice to City’s dominance as they enjoyed 84 per cent possession in a routine win that at times resembled a training session.

Phil Foden set up Rodri to open the scoring with a precise finish in the 14th minute and the England midfielder was instrumental in City’s second goal just past the hour mark as his pass was tapped in by Alvarez.

City, who had not won a league match at home since early November, never had to engage top gear as United defended deeply and with great discipline to avoid a heavy loss.

While the points were welcome even more good news for City was the sight of key midfielder Kevin de Bruyne appearing on the bench, having been out since the opening game of the season.

City move above Arsenal into third place with 40 points from 19 games, two points behind leaders Liverpool and Aston Villa. The Blades remain bottom on nine points.

Pep Guardiola’s City side have hit unprecedented heights this year, claiming a treble including a first Champions League crown and last week becoming FIFA Club World Cup champions.

In truth a home victory over Sheffield United was tame by comparison, but after a wobble in form it seems City are back in the groove as they move into the second half of the campaign.

LESSON LEARNED

“We learned from the last (home) game against Crystal Palace,” Rodri said of that 2-2 draw. “We had to keep focusing and Sheffield didn’t have the intention to come to us so we had to keep the ball. Important for us this victory.”

De Bruyne was not needed in the end but the sight of the Belgium playmaker warming up on the touchline in the second half prompted one of the biggest cheers of the afternoon.

City will also have Norwegian goal machine Erling Haaland back from injury soon to boost their bid for a record fourth successive Premier League title.

For Sheffield United a long hard struggle against relegation is what they have to look forward to in 2024 as they are seven points behind 17th-placed Everton in the safety zone.

But manager Chris Wilder remains upbeat.

“We are light in terms of Premier League experience but what we aren’t light on is fight or character and that has delighted me since I walked through the door,” Wilder, who returned to the club after Paul Heckingbottom was sacked earlier this month.

“I know there are plenty of teams who would have got done five or six with the vibe and the feel today. We try and take something from it.” — Reuters

Tags: , ,