City eased to victory over basement side Huddersfield Town and narrow the gap to leaders Liverpool back down to four points. Goals from Danilo, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane had the Blues in cruise control before the hour-mark. The champions settled for the 3-0 win and a fourth successive clean sheet in what has so far been a stunning start to the New Year.
What happened? City began at a measured pace, perhaps gauging how the managerless hosts would approach the opening minutes. The Blues enjoyed the majority of possession without threatening the Terriers’ goal too much to begin with, but just 13 minutes in and City fans were left scratching their heads as Sterling was felled in the box by Rodney Kongolo. It looked a clear penalty. But – as we’ve seen a number of times this season – the officials saw no foul. Fortunately, the champions didn’t have too long to wait to open the scoring. Just five minutes later, Danilo fired in a shot from distance that Christopher Schindler stooped in the way of and glanced past his own keeper. Danilo’s effort brought up a century of goals for City this season and the fastest to reach the milestone in Europe this season. The Blues were certainly not at their fluid best and the Terriers were snapping into tackles and defending in numbers. But it was enough to go into the break with a slender advantage. Refocused and re energised, City came out for the second half and within 11 minutes, had put the game to bed. The passing and tempo was much better and the second goal of the afternoon came on 54 minutes as Sane narrowly avoided the assistant referee’s flag before delivering the perfect cross for Sterling to send a diving header into the net. Two minutes later, the lead was three – and what a goal. As the ball came to Danilo just inside the halfway line, there seemed little threat to the hosts – but the Brazil defender pinged a ball to Aguero whose cushioned reverse header allowed Sane to burst into the box and coolly slot under the keeper. City could have had another when Bernardo raced into the box, but his shot was saved and the champions declared at three as the nip and tuck nature of this season's title race continues.
What it means… City move back to within four points of leaders Liverpool while again improving our goal difference. The Blues will play first in the next round of fixtures with the away fixture at Newcastle coming 24 hours before Liverpool’s home clash with Leicester – a chance to narrow the gap to one points – albeit briefly.
Star man: Leroy Sane An assist and a goal for City’s German winger.
What’s next? The Blues return to domestic cup again next week. With a 9-0 aggregate going into to Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final, second leg, City should confirm a place at Wembley at the Pirelli Stadium against Burton Albion. And the Blues can take a step towards the FA Cup last 16 with victory over Sean Dyche’s improving Burnley next Saturday at the Etihad Stadium.