English Premiership

City keep pace with Chelsea

2015-03-05 00:48
David Silva (AFP)

Manchester - David Silva and James Milner has eased the pressure mounting steadily on Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini but it was a far from convincing 2-0 victory for the reigning Premier League champions against struggling Leicester at the Etihad Stadium.

Recent demoralising losses to Barcelona and Liverpool had brought Pellegrini's future with City into the spotlight and the manner of this return to winning ways arguably raised more questions than it provided answers about the team's recent loss of form.

Manchester City returned to winning ways to keep alive their hopes of retaining the title and are now trailing behind leaders Chelsea, who have a game in hand, by five points.

Silva ensured a frustrating opening 45 minutes at least ended on a high note for City as he claimed the goal that a lack of invention and belief had made appear unlikely until that point.

It stemmed from a bad Leicester mistake, Jeff Schlupp losing the ball in his own half and allowing Yaya Toure to spark a counter-attack with a pass to Silva who, in turn, hit Aleksandar Kolarov wide on the left.

The full-back's cross was half-met by full debutant Wilfried Bony, with the ball breaking kindly for Silva who, having seen his initial shot blocked by Wes Morgan, scrambled in the rebound.

Two minutes from full-time, substitute Milner finally brought City some breathing room when he turned the ball in from six yards after neat approach play and a right-wing cross from Jesus Navas.

The unconvincing opening goal had summed up an unconvincing half for City and Pellegrini who had relegated club captain Vincent Kompany, among others, to the bench following a run of poor performances.

In fairness to City, the evening would have been far more routine had Bony scored inside the opening three minutes when his firm header, from a Silva corner, was comfortably cleared off the line by Esteban Cambiasso.

But, instead, City lived anxiously - and dangerously - as the half progressed. Bony, defending a Leicester corner, went in over-enthusiastically on Schlupp and was relieved to see the referee wave away a strong penalty appeal.

And there was another such shout from the visitors two minutes later, as Andrej Kramaric chased Riyad Mahre's through ball with goalkeeper Joe Hart saving at the forward's feet and surviving a less convincing appeal on that occasion.

City learned from those scares, however, and after 34 minutes referee Robert Madley played an excellent advantage, following a foul on Silva, which allowed Navas to surge into the area and cross for Bony who couldn't make clean contact inside the six-yard area and was denied superbly by Schwarzer's reflexes.

The Australian goalkeeper was soon called into action again, this time diving to keep out a Navas shot after the City winger appeared on the left-hand corner of the penalty area and Bony could have ended a frustrating first half on a high note as he expertly controlled Silva's lob forward but his hurried shot flew high and wide over the Leicester goal.

The lacklustre evening being endured by City and Bony continued after the restart when the new forward somehow managed to hit the left-hand corner flag from six yards out.

And a clumsy challenge by Fernando on Andrej Kramaric moments later had Leicester supporters appealing for yet another spot kick before the referee awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area which the Leicester striker placed into the side-netting via a deflection off the wall.

Kolarov's 55th minute cross gave Aguero the opportunity to kill off the contest although his header was saved, superbly, by Schwarzer - not for the first time.

That ensured some anxiety for City as Leicester substitute David Nugent missed an open net at the far post, before an offside flag spared his blushes, and Mahrez came within inches of an equaliser when his 75th minute effort struck a post.

Either side of those efforts, there were further opportunities for the home side but the magnificent Schwarzer again frustrated City with an acrobatic stop from Toure's 18-yard chip before denying Kolarov and Silva with a brilliant double save.

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