Pep Guardiola admits he is feeling the pressure in a tense title race
THIS gripping, captivating Premier League title race had the potential to take a decisive turn or two on a Saturday that saw the top two face potentially challenging away games.
Yet after Liverpool’s 1-0 win against Newcastle earlier in the day, City served up an emphatic response as they secured a thumping 4-0 in front of a raucous Elland Road crowd.
So the status quo at the top of the table continues for another week - City are one point ahead of Liverpool with both teams now having just four games left to play.
Rodri headed City into an 13th-minute lead, ghosting in unopposed to head home Phil Foden’s out-swinging free-kick.
Nathan Ake doubled City’s lead in the 54th minute, turning home Ruben Dias’ knockdown following Foden’s corner.
City kept Leeds from making any headway into their lead before wrapping up a 4-0 victory with two goals in the final 12 minutes from Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho.
“I prefer to feel less pressure than I am feeling. It is a long season and this is the last effort,” said City manager Pep Guardiola.
“We knew coming here the way they play, we suffered a lot in the first half. But in the end we had control and could have scored more. An incredible result for us.
“They are so fast up front. Today was so importanrt to make our chances to be champions again.
“We defended well and sometimes these type of games set-pieces become so important. With Nathan Ake on the pitch, we are so strong.
“We have been many times in this position. It’s not about the pressure – it’s simple. We have to win all our games to be champions. If we don’t, Liverpool will be champions.
“There’s a lot of tough games to play. We now have to recover well and go to Madrid for the Champions League. That’s all.“
Leeds were much-improved following Monday’s goalless draw at Crystal Palace, but their first league defeat in six games leaves them one place and five points above third-bottom Everton, who have two games in hand.
City were almost caught cold in the opening minutes when Rodrigo raced unopposed from halfway after a slip by Joao Cancelo, but Ilkay Gundogan rescued his team-mate with a vital block in the box.
Then City found their breakthrough, as Stuart Dallas was penalised for his foul on Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden’s excellent out-swinging free-kick was headed home by Rodri, who ghosted on to the ball unopposed.
Leeds began the second half well, forcing City on to the back foot, but the visitors twice served warning with swift counter-attacks and doubled their lead from another set-piece in the 54th minute.
Foden’s corner was headed towards goal by Ruben Dias and Ake turned to sweep the ball home from six yards at the far post.
Cty put the game to bed with an excellent third goal in the 78th minute. Ederson’s clearance was chested into Foden’s path and his through-ball was buried by Jesus.
There was still time for a final flourish from Fernandinho to arrow home a low shot in added time.
“After the second goal, we were able to move the ball with a lot more freedom,” said City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan.
“This was a huge test. Leeds started with a lot of intensity. They made our lives difficult.
“The first goal helped us a lot. They were more than in the game in the first half.
“Liverpool played first today and we have to manage these situations. Sometimes they’ll play first. Sometimes we’ll play first. Every game is a final now.”
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