A hard-fought victory saw Manchester City emerge from Bramall Lane with all three points, defeating Sheffield United 2-1 on Sunday afternoon.
Juanma Lillo took charge of his first of two Manchester City matches in the absence of Pep Guardiola on Sunday, leading his team out at Bramall Lane to take on newly-promoted Sheffield United in the Premier League.
It was an unsurprising opening to the game with City dictating the tempo and controlling the ball, despite not troubling Wes Fodderingham in the Sheffield United goal, with Erling Haaland having a tame header on goal.
City did have the ball in the back of the net before being denied by the linesman, after a free-kick was lofted into the penalty area. Nathan Ake converted the loose ball – however Rodri was deemed offside earlier in the move.
Manchester City had a golden chance five minutes later, as Erling Haaland held off a Sheffield United defender in the box, before the ball ricocheted into the path of Julian Alvarez, who’s shot was stopped superbly by the on-rushing goalkeeper.
The Sky Blues were then awarded a penalty after 35 minutes, after a lovely passage of play down the Sheffield United right lead to Alvarez isolating Jon Egan, who blocked an attempted cross with his arm.
Erling Haaland stepped up to the spot but failed to convert his effort, hitting the post, keeping the score 0-0 as the two sides entered the break on level terms, despite the continuous City pressure.
The Norwegian looked hungry for goals, after ending the half on a sour note following his missed penalty, as well as several appeals for more after being wrestled to the ground on a number of occasions.
An early second half chance fell his way, after Kyle Walker fizzed a low cross into the path of Haaland, who tried to re-direct the ball with his right foot. The Norweign’s effort was fired just wide of the right post, as City continued to build pressure on the Blades.
It was an onslaught from City, who constantly found themselves inside the Sheffield United penalty area, this time with Rodri who’s left-footed effort just sailed wide of the mark after 58 minutes.
Another chance fell the way of Erling Haaland who was slipped in by Mateo Kovacic, Haaland tried to lift the ball over Fodderingham but was unsuccessful, forcing a smart save from the keeper.
A mere minute after, the Blues found themselves in on goal again, as Grealish teed up Julian Alvarez, who smashed the ball low to the keeper’s right, forcing another superb stop.
The pressure was mounting and so was Erling Haaland, who finally forced a breakthrough goal following a period of total domination.
The Blues kept going down the left through Jack Grealish, who clipped a ball to the back post, where Haaland inevitably found himself in the right place, planting the header into the net and giving City a much-deserved lead.
City managed to keep possession and largely keep the home side at bay following their goal, with a header from Oli Mcburnie being the first half chance of the game, which sailed wide of Ederson’s left post.
A free-kick won by Bernardo Silva after a lengthy run was struck by Alvarez, who forced another save from Fodderigham, albeit a routine one.
Sheffield United attempted to gain some momentum as the match entered the final 10 minutes, with City slowing proceedings down in an attempt to see the game out and take back the three points.
However, a lapse in concentration by Kyle Walker lead to an attack mounting, as the ball broke the way of Jayden Bogle, who fired the ball past Ederson giving the Blades a priceless equaliser.
City pushed and probed desperate to restore their lead and their efforts were quickly successful, as a ball broke the way of Rodri, who’s habit of scoring crucial goals continued, hammering the ball with a left-footed finish into the top left corner.
A frantic ending to the game but one which favoured Manchester City, as the Blues earned all three points and moved to the top of the Premier League table.
With that being said, here’s how we rated the player performances from Sunday’s victory!
Ederson – 5.5
Ultimately untroubled until the goal with sloppy distribution at times.
Kyle Walker – 5.5
Largely at fault for the Sheffield United goal but put in a couple of nice crosses in the first half and was a tad unlucky not to get an assist. However, Walker massively redeemed himself with his desire in the winning goal.
Ruben Dias – 7
Not the most troubling afternoon for Dias but the Portuguese star showed his class when called upon, leading from the back and looking comfortable as always in possession.
Nathan Ake – 7
Similar to Dias, the Dutchman was reliable when needed and made a few nice tackles.
Josko Gvardiol – 6.5
The Croatian has slotted in seamlessly to the side, making that left-side of defence his own since his arrival from RB Leipzig.
Rodrigo – 7.5 (MOTM)
A tad careless with some tame efforts not troubling the Sheffield United goal, before his powerhouse match-winning goal giving City a crucial three points on the road.
Bernardo Silva – 7.5
A return to the starting lineup for Silva who proved his worth following his contract extension on Wednesday. Siva ran the show and was mightily impressive, creating and contributing on all fronts.
Mateo Kovacic – 7
Another cool and composed display by Kovacic, who was praised for his comfortability since arriving by Juanma Lillo pre-match.
Julian Alvarez – 6
A frustrating afternoon for Alvarez, with a few efforts just missing the mark. It could’ve been a feast for the Argentine on another day.
Erling Haaland – 7
Mixed emotions from Haaland who had an infuriating first half, before getting City off the mark after 63 minutes, netting his third goal of the season.
Jack Grealish – 5.5
Assisting the opener but still a pretty tame display by Grealish, who was largely nullified down the City left.
Phil Foden – 6
Will claim the assist for the winner, Foden replaced Kovacic later on in the game and looked a bright spark.
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