LEICESTER, England (AP) – Kevin de Bruyne’s perfect free kick was enough to overcome Erling Haaland’s absence in Manchester City’s 1-0 win over Leicester on Saturday.
De Bruyne set up a 25-yard set-piece that went over Leicester’s wall and into the crossbar in the 49th minute to secure a victory that put City a point above Arsenal ahead of the Gunners’ game against Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
“He’s back,” City manager Pep Guardiola said of De Bruyne, having publicly called on the Belgian midfielder recently to produce more. “He wasn’t playing well the last few games. (Today he was) amazing. He knows that.”
City dominated the first half but lacked a clear focus on attack after Haaland was ruled out with an ankle problem, the first time the Norwegian striker has missed a game this season.
Julian Alvarez had his second start to a league season but didn’t get many openings despite City being camped in Leicester’s midfield for much of the match.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers’ tactics were clear as the hosts pulled back and defended compactly as they waited for chances to counterattack.
“There was no space. (Alvarez) moved very well, but if you put the ball in there it’s difficult,” Guardiola said. “When they defend in this position, it’s very difficult for all the attackers.”
Youri Tielemans nearly equalized for Leicester in the 53rd, with a spectacular volley from outside the area that forced a reaction save from Ederson as he deflected the ball to the crossbar.
That was the closest Leicester came to redeeming a point. Substitute Kelechi Iheanacho missed two good opportunities with a shot wide after being placed in the area, and then forced a very comfortable save by Ederson.