Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League on Tuesday night, trouncing Leeds United 7-0 at the Etihad Stadium.
Kevin De Bruyne called the shots in attack as Manchester City were a class above Leeds United and taught them a tough lesson. The Belgian midfielder netted twice, while Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, John Stones and Nathan Ake scored further goals to leave the final scoreline reading 7-0 against an injury-hit Leeds United.
Pep Guardiola’s men dominated from the outset and found themselves two-up inside the opening 13 minutes. Phil Foden calmly slotted home a deflected Illan Meslier save, while Jack Grealish powerfully headed in a Riyad Mahrez cross to double his side’s advantage.
The match was practically done and dusted just after the half-hour mark when Kevin De Bruyne slammed the ball home after latching onto Rodri’s sublime through pass. The very last thing Leeds required was to leave themselves carved open for a battering, but City were relentless, ruthless and hungry for more.
Leeds’s woes worsened when a sweeping move eventually led to Mahrez, whose blazed long-range effort deflected off Junior Firpo to ripple the back of the net. Manchester City did find the net seconds later when De Bruyne grabbed his second with an absolute screamer into the top corner that nearly ripped the net off.
John Stones got in on the act to fire the sixth with around 15 minutes left on the clock, while substitute Nathan Ake leapt above everyone to head home the seventh, showing no mercy for the visitors. Manchester City are now four points clear of second-placed Liverpool in the standings, while Leeds have slipped to 16th, only five points adrift of the relegation zone. The Hard Tackle will now run the rule over both sets of players.
Ederson Moraes: 7/10
Ederson had almost nothing to do with Leeds managing a mere three shots on target. Honestly, he could have a nap back in the net seeing how untroubled he was on the day.
John Stones: 8/10
Stones performed admirably in an unfamiliar position, hardly ever looking in trouble up against Jack Harrison. He scored his goal with a thunderous strike to thrash the ball into the roof of the net following a double save from Illan Meslier. His technical ability shone throughout as he did not put a foot wrong.
Ruben Dias: 7/10
The Manchester City skipper was typically powerful and unwavering at the core of defence, but he was not tested much by a hapless Leeds attack. Dias brought the ball forward and enjoyed a lot of possession inside the Leeds half while defending everything thrown in his path well while always remaining alert.
Aymeric Laporte: 8/10
Laporte stepped forward frequently, making good use of the ball, and remained resolute amidst very little danger. He tried to break the lines with his razor-sharp distribution, attempting 98 passes with a 95 per cent pass accuracy while also completing a team-high 5 accurate long balls. A real Rolls Royce of a defender, Laporte put on an elegant show on the night.
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 7/10
The balance Oleksandr Zinchenko gives to this City side sometimes goes unnoticed. Raphinha was in Ukrainian’s back pocket as he was clean in tight situations. He was a reliable presence whenever called upon defensively, completing four tackles, one interception and three clearances while also making five ball recoveries. He was consistently active in the Sky Blues’ build-up.
Rodri was dominant and won everything in the middle of the park, spreading the play efficiently and with aplomb to register four key passes – including a sublime assist for one of De Bruyne’s strikes. Bombing forward runs created a mess in opposition defence, and he was unjustly hooked off in the 56th minute for Fernandinho. He was City’s standout performer in the time he was on the pitch.
Bernardo Silva: 7/10
Silva missed a gaping goal in the opening exchanges but returned to normal service quickly, showing nimble footwork time and again until being substituted at the interval to prevent an apparent injury scare.
Kevin De Bruyne: 10/10
Kevin De Bruyne’s game by numbers vs. Leeds United:
9 shots (most)
7 touches in the opp. box
4 shots on target (most)
4 chances created
4 duels won
2 take-ons completed
2 possessions won
2 goals (=most)
Total performance. 👌 pic.twitter.com/hrafXqBeA9
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 14, 2021
The Belgian maestro was back to his best and put on a classic De Bruyne display. He had incredible energy and mobility, proving unstoppable and looking a lot like his old self in the attacking areas.
The first goal was a fantastic finish from a tight angle, but his second was an absolute screamer that was blasted past Illan Meslier. De Bruyne was a little sloppy on the ball at times, but overall, it was a magnificent performance from the world-class playmaker who was a victim of his own impossibly high standards earlier in the season.
Riyad Mahrez: 9.5/10
Mahrez was both dangerous and efficient in his performance, producing a wonderful cross for Grealish’s strike before scoring in the second half. He picked out Grealish with a vicious, looping cross for the midfielder to make it 2-0. Mahrez nearly provided an assist again by releasing Gundogan with a lovely clipped pass. He made life difficult for the Leeds players as they could not get the ball off him. Simply unplayable.
Phil Foden: 9/10
📊 | @PhilFoden vs. Leeds United:
Accurate Passes: 51/57 (89%)
Key Passes: 5
Successful Dribbles: 3
Ground Duels Won: 4
— City Chief (@City_Chief) December 14, 2021
Perhaps City’s best option for the false nine position, Foden floated around wonderfully and picked out great spaces inside the Leeds box. He was largely involved in City’s excellent build-up play and opened the scoring by smartly turning in the loose ball.
Foden was sensational at times with his deft touches and passes and also whipped in a good corner to bag an assist for Ake’s goal. He fired six shots, laid a match-high five key passes and completed three dribbles.
Jack Grealish: 8/10
From the get-go, Grealish was quite direct, driving at his opponents with tremendous intensity. He silenced his doubters with an industrious display and got a well deserved goal. He dribbled past the Leeds players for fun despite being continuously hacked down while displaying his work rate off the ball. He took three shots, completed four dribbles and was fouled three times.
Ilkay Gundogan: 7/10
A great cameo from the German international, who instantly demonstrated his nimbleness and was ever-present on the pitch. He assisted Mahrez and De Bruyne to top off a stellar showing.
The veteran was composed as ever. The 37-year-old sent in a peach of a cross in the build-up to Stones’s goal, and he won practically everything in an all-action performance off the bench.
Nathan Ake: 7/10
Given his struggles in a Manchester City shirt, a free header for Ake was a welcome sight. He nodded home a towering header.
Illan Meslier: 5.5/10
Some spectacular strikes and wonderfully worked team goals from the home side meant the Leeds goalkeeper cannot entirely be blamed for the club’s biggest defeat since early 2014. An open defence let him down, and he did make one or two good stops, although distribution was again uncharacteristically poor.
Jamie Shackleton: 6/10
A difficult night for Shackleton, who was unable to contain the Manchester City attackers and battered in the first quarter of the game. Several well-timed blocks helped to keep the score low in the first half. A pity that he was unable to make it to half-time, limping off the pitch with an injury.
Luke Ayling: 5/10
The makeshift centre-half read the play well on occasions, but that was all overshadowed as he was a part of a defence that shipped seven goals. He could not cope with the fierce nature of Manchester City’s attackers.
Diego Llorente: 3/10
City’s fluid movements and quickness in and around the box often dragged Llorente out of position, and he was let down by some poor defending. He was also sloppy in possession and gave the ball away cheaply on multiple occasions.
The Spaniard truggled to cope with Foden’s ingenuity and trickery, as the Manchester City attacker pulled him all over the pitch. Bielsa’s man-marking tactics were exposed brutally on the day.
Junior Firpo: 3/10
Firpo lost possession during a disastrous stretch for the visitors but was let off the hook when De Bruyne’s following effort was blocked. He made one darting run but keeping that aside, he was woeful at both ends of the pitch. Some clumsy challenges resulted in getting his fifth yellow card of the season, and he will miss the next game.
Stuart Dallas: 5/10
Perhaps he should have cleared Foden’s effort off the line to deny the Manchester City’s opener, but Dallas generally fought hard throughout in vain. Unfortunate to see a fine effort flicked off the post in the second half.
Adam Forshaw: 5/10
Given the difficult task of marking Kevin De Bruyne, he always looked to be a yard off him the whole time. He failed to get to grips throughout the game and was anonymous in the midfield.
Tyler Roberts: 6/10
Roberts pressed relentlessly but lacked the inventiveness to create or influence the proceedings from the number 10 role. The occasional dribble caught the eye, but he was never likely to sparkle in a contest like this.
Raphinha worked hard and proved to be a threat when Leeds got him into the game, but those moments were few and far between. Overall, he could not make a difference in the game, which is underwhelming by his recent form.
Daniel James: 4/10
James showed his incredible pace when running the channels to provide some sort of outlet but with no end product at all. He was barely involved in any action and was hooked off at half-time in favour of Joe Gelhardt.
Jack Harrison: 4/10
With Stones playing out of position, Harrison had the chance to give the England defender a beating on the flank, but he rarely did that. He was more vibrant in the second half, perhaps trying to make a point in front of his former club. However, his end product let him down in the final third.
Mateusz Klich: 5/10
Klich added some dynamism in the Leeds midfield but, unsurprisingly, could not shift the balance of play. Klich got one of the team’s rare chances at goal, but he dawdled with the ball and was dispossessed.
Joe Gelhardt: 6/10
Even in such a crushing defeat, the teenager’s exciting talent was there for everyone to see, while his first touch and ball carrying were excellent. His ability to grip the ball swiftly highlighted his desire to start ahead of James in some capacity in the future.
Cody Drameh: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.