Captain, leader, legend. Look, that other gentleman has stopped playing and relinquished it now, so his triple crown is vacant, and who deserves it more than Vincent Kompany?
He was meant to have been phased out long ago. He wasn’t
Yet here he is, three years into Guardiola’s revolution, scoring the goal that leaves
Vincent Kompany stepped up to ensure Manchester City’s title bid remains on track as he got the only goal against Leicester
The vastly-experienced Belgian got in his stride before unleashing a stunning strike into the top corner of the Leicester net
The goal sparked wild celebrations on and off the pitch as everyone inside the Etihad Stadium knew the goal’s importance
Sterling and Aguero endured difficult evenings but were quick to congratulate their captain for the crucial goal
Aymeric Laporte and David Silva share a handshake as the Manchester City players piled on Kompany in celebration
Ninety eight points. That is what they will need, in all likelihood, to win it. They would have fallen short without Kompany and a goal that will be remembered, replayed and celebrated decades from now. A spectacular goal, not the type traditionally scored by players in his position. This was his Aguerooo moment.
Think of a central defender scoring and the image is of a header, from a set-piece. A corner, a free-kick swung in, the big man up at the back stick, rising above those around him, powering it past the goalkeeper.
That was Kompany in 2012 when he scored the second most important goal of his City career, the one that defeated Manchester United with three games to go, paving the way for their first Premier League title.
Kompany has scored plenty like that in his time, plenty of standard contributions for a player with his skill set. This was different. This was Paul Breitner 1974 World Cup different. This was a goal defenders dream of scoring.
Kompany collected the ball around 35 yards from Leicester’s goal. It doesn’t matter who from. It was a square pass, one of the million City make as they move and shape the play around the opposition box. Kompany was expected to move it on, too. Leicester dropped off a little, let him have it. He’s not going to shoot from there, is he? If he is, well good luck with that. This is a player that had never scored a goal from outside the penalty area in his entire Premier League career. What’s the worst that could happen? We’ll take them all day.
Academy graduate Phil Foden was given a rare start and looked to make a telling contribution with an early effort at goal
Sergio Aguero thought he had given City the lead in the first half when he connected with an in-swinging corner from the left
City players and supporters were convinced that the ball had crossed the line but their protests were quickly waved away
Television replays showed that the entirety of the ball had not crossed the line and City were left wondering about their luck
PLAYER RATINGS, LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko; Silva (Stones 90), Gundogan, Foden (Sane 56); Bernardo Silva, Aguero (Gabriel Jesus 86), Sterling
Subs not used: Muric, Danilo, Mahrez, Otamendi
Goal: Kompany 70
Booked: Silva, Gabriel Jesus
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Leicester City (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel; Ricardo, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell; Ndidi; Albrighton (Gray 85), Tielemans (Barnes 75), Choudhury, Maddison (Iheanacho 80); Vardy
Subs not used: Ward, Morgan, Mendy, Fuchs
Booked: Maguire, Iheanacho
Manager: Brendan Rodgers
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
Season at a glance
- Premier League
- Premier League
- League One
- League Two
- Scottish Premiership
- Scottish Div 1
- Scottish Div 2
- Scottish Div 3
- Ligue 1
- Serie A
- La Liga
DEAN WAS RIGHT NOT TO SHOW SILVA A RED
MARK CLATTENBERG: David Silva committed a careless foul on James Maddison when already on a yellow card, but it didn’t deserve a second caution.
The Spaniard’s booking for an earlier foul on Youri Tielemans during a Leicester break was a clear yellow, a deliberate trip, and the Manchester City star could have no complaints when Mike Dean showed yellow.
However, that does not mean his next foul should result in a red card, just because he has already been booked. He should be afforded the same treatment as any player in that they can commit three or four careless fouls before being cautioned.
City captain Vincent Kompany was booked following a reckless challenge on Maddison. His studs were low so a yellow was correct.
So Kompany advanced maybe five yards and pow. The ball left his right foot like a tracer missile, straight into Kasper Schmeichel’s top corner.
It was Kompany’s first goal since April 7, 2018, and as the saying goes worth waiting for. Indeed if he never scores one again, nobody around these parts will mind.
There was already an argument that Kompany might be among City’s greatest players from any era. This is the type of goal that gets statues cast. It may grow in importance by Sunday evening, too. For, at that point, City looked to be faltering.
Leicester had already gone further into the match without conceding than any league team to visit the Etihad this season. They were organised and determined and City were frustrated.
They were forcing Leicester deeper and deeper in search of the goal that would wrench the title advantage from Liverpool, but the tension in the stadium was growing. Ilkay Gundogan came close with a shot, Schmeichel made a fine save from Aguero – then Leicester broke and James Maddison could have scored, or at least slipped in Marc Albrighton who was in a superior position. Was this going to be the night a title duellist blinked?
Then, we’ve got Kompany. There were 20 minutes remaining when he scored. It was far from comfortable from there and Leicester substitute Kelechi Iheanacho missed a good late chance, but City held on. Win at Brighton and the title is theirs. That won’t be easy either. Nothing is, when it’s like this.
Liverpool players had talked about praying for a miracle after Saturday’s win over Newcastle, but it really isn’t a miraculous occurrence that Leicester competed with Manchester City for so long.
Leicester are a good team, much restored under Brendan Rodgers after the disaffection of Claude Puel’s brief era, and they have lately been very capable of causing City problems. Add to that the pressure of needing to win every game, and this was a significant test, probably the toughest fixture either of the potential title winners had to get through – and far more problematic than visiting United, given the form of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team.
Marc Albrighton had City fans uneasy as he unleashed a fierce effort from the edge of the area towards Ederson’s goal
Much of Leicester’s early joy came through the directness of striker Jamie Vardy who looked determined to dent title hopes
Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak (left) watched the club’s final home league game with CEO Ferran Soriano
Sterling has been sensational this season but found himself under close surveillance by Jonny Evans at the back for Leicester
City found Maddison tough to keep quiet as the former Norwich City midfielder continued to dip and weave across the pitch
So it proved. City were goalless at half-time at Old Trafford, and against Burnley, too, but this felt different. Leicester are dangerous on the counter attack, so there was always the hint of vulnerability, and City couldn’t find a way through.
Rodgers is a smart coach, too. He lay traps, dropping off when Ederson had the ball and letting City’s defenders distribute. The goalkeeper probably has the best feet of any of City’s back line, but his balls into midfield were negated this way. Sure enough, there was frustration in the City ranks as the minutes slipped away.
They wanted more from referee Mike Dean – in particular they wanted Leicester goalkeeper Schmeichel sanctioned for time-wasting. The announcement of a single minute in first-half injury time brought a furious reaction from the locals. They were never less than seething for much of this.
It was hard to argue with the first two names in the book, mind – both City players. David Silva was shown a yellow card for a cynical challenge on Youri Tielemans, Kompany for a spectacular foul on James Maddison, that was more mistimed than dirty, but sent the Leicester man into orbit.
Kompany rose to the occasion defensively elsewhere, with a quite magnificent full stretch block to charge down an eighth minute shot from Albrighton. It was a night for big gestures of commitment.
Frustration was building in Manchester City ranks as Sterling looks up to the sky after spurning another good opportunity
Vincent Kompany picked up a first-half booking after a late and rash challenge on Leicester midfielder James Maddison
Maddison was a major threat on the counter-attack and he got to the ball before Kompany to draw the foul on the break
Dean continued with his no-nonsense approach as he had a word with Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel over time-wasting
City knew they could not afford to drop any points in the title race and they turned to shooting on site in search of a vital goal
Bernardo Silva made plenty. Raheem Sterling is the Footballer of the Year, but in the final weeks of the season Silva’s form has if anything been more influential. His battle with Ben Chilwell along the flank was the most intriguing of the night, and credit to the England man that he resisted a proper chasing. On occasions, though, Silva was sublime, cutting in and out, beating one, two, three men – going back and beating the odd one again. He looked the City player most likely to make something happen – even if their best chance of the first-half came from a set piece.
It was a corner from the left, met by Aguero with a glancing header and for a split second it seemed as if goalline technology would come to City’s rescue as at Turf Moor. The ball had struck the bar before it dropped and Schmeichel clawed it clear and, to the naked eye, it looked as if it had crossed. No signal for Dean, though, and replays showed, no goal.
The title is not won yet, whatever the jubilant fans may think as Brighton’s dogged performance at Arsenal showed heart. City will still have to do it the hard way come Sunday. What is unquestionable, whatever happens, is that this is a truly great team. The first since Preston in the 19th century to beat every league opponent at least once in consecutive seasons. It was a 12 team league back then, mind – and no crossbars. It’s fair to say the game has changed – and been changed, too.
Guardiola continued to urge calmness and composure from his players as supporters grew restless as the minutes wore on
Bernardo Silva looked to be City’s best hope of getting a hold on the game – and the title race – as he was continually crowded
The pressure inside the stadium was palpable for the first hour as Guardiola became more and more animated in his area
Hearts were in mouths behind the Leicester goal as Aguero’s poke towards goal brought a stunning save out of Schmeichel
Pressure was unrelenting and it finally told when Kompany produced a thunderbolt to send the Etihad Stadium into raptures