De Bruyne’s rocket sinks Leicester and Manchester City reaches the top

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Kevin De Bruyne led Manchester City to the top of the Premier League when the Belgian’s sublime free kick sealed a 1-0 victory against modest Leicester on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola’s side were without Erling Haaland at the King Power Stadium after the Norwegian was unable to recover from an ankle injury.

But De Bruyne made sure the champions did not overlook the prolific striker when he scored from a magnificent second-half set piece.

City’s first away win in their last four games put them a point above second-placed Arsenal, who host Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

Since their painful loss to Liverpool, City have bounced back with successive league wins to underline their determination to win a fifth title in six years.

Leicester’s first defeat in four games leaves them one place above the relegation zone.

Haaland had started all but one game this season after joining from Borussia Dortmund, scoring 22 goals in all competitions.

Guardiola was reluctant to talk about Haaland’s absence, but revealed his prolific star had “a bit of a fever, tired and also has to recover (from injury)”.

With Haaland sidelined, Julián Álvarez entered his second league start of the season and City seemed unfazed by a vibrant start.

Danny Ward had to save Ilkay Gundogan’s header before De Bruyne took a corner to Rodri, whose header was deflected by the Leicester goalkeeper.

Bernardo Silva was next to test Ward from inside the penalty area as City’s barrage picked up speed.

Camped out in their own half for long stretches, it took Leicester 25 minutes to put a shot together, with Harvey Barnes’ effort ending City goalkeeper Ederson’s spell as a spectator.

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De Bruyne’s long drive came too close to Ward, while Jack Grealish’s penalty appeal was denied after he slumped theatrically under a challenge from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall.

City kept up the pressure when Rodri shot just wide from distance early in the second half.

City had failed to score in their previous three away games, but De Bruyne finally ended that drought in the 49th minute.

Aiming from 25 yards out, the Belgian star fired a superb free kick that went around the Leicester wall and crashed into the top corner through the post.

De Bruyne’s 60th Premier League goal put the Belgian midfielder joint fourth with David Silva on City’s list of top scorers in the competition.

It was also City’s first direct free-kick goal in the Premier League since January 2021.

Youri Tielemans was inches from an immediate equalizer for Leicester when the Belgian’s ferocious shot was deflected off the crossbar by Ederson.

Kelechi Iheanacho came off the bench and twice came close to a leveler with a shot that whistled wide and then a close-range shot straight at Ederson.

City almost managed to gift Leicester a point in stoppage time when John Stones’ header hit Ruben Dias and narrowly went flying.

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