Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League table with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Leeds United at Elland Road on Saturday.

Leeds United made a positive start and had an early chance when Joao Cancelo stumbled on the halfway line, allowing Rodrigo to run the length of the pitch on a turnover, but the Spaniard scuffed his lines. The visitors responded well and had plenty of chances before taking the lead in the 13th minute when Rodri glanced the ball past Leeds stopper Illan Meslier from a looping Phil Foden free-kick.

The Whites remained unfazed as City continued to pile pressure on them, and an unmarked Junior Firpo lashed a strike over the top from Luke Ayling’s cross. The Peacocks came out firing in the second half, but City were the first to strike, with Nathan Ake the goal-scorer from another set-piece on the 54th-minute mark.

Despite a late rally from Leeds, Gabriel Jesus clinched the victory for the visitors on 78 minutes when he pounced on a Foden through ball and hammered it past Meslier. Fernandinho soon joined the party and added a fourth for City in stoppage time.

The scoreline was far from a fair reflection of the game, as Leeds put up a good challenge to the Premier League champions, but struggled to retain possession of the ball in key areas. The win sees the Sky Blues reclaim a one-point lead at the top of the Premier League standings, having dropped to second when Liverpool defeated Newcastle 1-0 earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, Leeds have slipped to 17th after Burnley picked up three crucial points against Watford, and they are only four points clear of the relegation zone, despite having played two more games than 18th-placed Everton. The Hard Tackle will now run the rule over both sets of players.

Leeds United

Illan Meslier: 4/10

Typically, the goalkeeper may be excused for conceding four goals against City, and Meslier’s was a similar case as he was powerless to prevent City’s opening three goals and should have done better with the fourth. That said, the French shot-stopper only made two saves on the day and did not do a great job at organising his defence either, while looking shaky with the ball at his feet on a few occasions.

Stuart Dallas: 5.5/10

Playing wing-back exposed a number of deficiencies in Dallas’ game, but he can not really be criticised here as it is not his preferred position. Yet, he was faring well in the new system until he went off with a horrible injury, which is another huge concern for Leeds. Showed little chemistry or combination play with Raphinha.

Luke Ayling: 5/10

Tasked with the tough role of sitting back and holding his ground on the right side of the back three against City, Ayling had a disastrous game as he constantly found himself out of position. He lost the ball on numerous occasions and failed to clear his line in crunch moments, while Grealish breezed past him with ease all day long.

Robin Koch: 6/10

The former Freiburg defender was aerially decent and was clearly the standout of the Leeds defenders on the day. He was also one of the fine passers of the ball, but he was still a long way off from the player that was courted by top clubs last summer. The German was switched off at the free-kick for the opening, while he played Jesus onside for the third.

Pascal Struijk: 5/10

Struijk returned to the starting lineup after a short spell on the bench and had a solid game in a central three with Ayling and Koch alongside him, making six tackles and blocking two shots.

Junior Firpo: 4/10

Thrown in at the deep end after a lengthy layoff with his knee injury and tasked with keeping the reigning champions at bay, it was always going to be a tough task for Firpo, who has largely underwhelmed this season. But he did himself no favours by picking up an early booking to put himself on a tightrope, and there were a few tense defensive moments. Still, he tried to offer something going forward and had his moments, but City exploited the space he left behind.

Raphinha: 6/10

Raphinha looked like Leeds’ only source of spark and creativity. The Brazilian received the ball in good positions but never capitalised on most of them. Shifted to wing-back in the second half, he became more involved in the game and caused issues for City despite starting his forays from deeper positions.

Kalvin Phillips: 7/10

Phillips put on a decent shift to get through a pile of labour in the engine room and contributed to the City’s frustration in the first half. He was combative, physical, and read the danger well, with a crunching tackle on Sterling exemplifying the positives he brings to this side.

The English playmaker was given the task of man-marking Rodri, which he performed to a good extent. He did not command the midfield as expected, but there was little he could do while playing for a Leeds side that is allergic to possession.

Mateusz Klich: 6/10

Klich was not expected to start today, but he was called into duty after Liam Cooper got injured in warm-ups. Defensively, he certainly did not do enough as he was beaten in all of his aerial duels and most of his ground ones as well, but he covered every blade of the grass and was decent at progressing the ball.

Jack Harrison: 4/10

Harrison was virtually anonymous throughout the game as he never managed to get to grips with the game against his former club. He had very few threatening moments when Leeds counter-attacked with thrust but was still lacking that final product.

Rodrigo Moreno: 5/10

Early on in the first half, the Spaniard wasted a golden opportunity when failing to slip Raphinha in for a certain goal, which really set the tone for what would be a dismal showing for Rodrigo. His runs were erratic and fragmented, and he never appeared to be on the same wavelength as his teammates.

SUBSTITUTES

Dan James: 6/10

James, who came on shortly before halftime, put up a slightly better performance in the attacking third than in recent games as he once again showed plenty of desire, hard work and a front-foot pressing game. Still, he should have scored when played in by Gelhardt.

Joe Gelhardt: 7/10

The youngster was bright on the ball and at least looked dangerous, unlike most of the starters. Almost netted a consolation goal for the Whites in the second half, but it was yet another display where he showed he has the skills, potential, and tenacity to become a vital component of Jesse Marsch’s side in the next season.

Sam Greenwood: N/A

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

Manchester City

Ederson Moraes: 6/10

Ederson had very little to do in the Man City goal, with Leeds managing a mere two shots on target. He was confident in dealing with everything little Leeds threw at him in desperation, notably when he came off his line quickly to help avert danger in the last moments.

Joao Cancelo: 7/10

It was a mixed performance from Cancelo. The Portuguese full-back almost gifted Leeds a goal with a terrible slip early on as the furthest man back. Rodrigo’s failure to pick out a pass saved his blushes. Surprisingly quiet in attack, he showed flashes of his mercurial abilities with a superb cross-field ball that set up a Jesus opportunity. Blew a late opportunity, but then compensated for it with a wonderful late block.

Ruben Dias: 7/10

Dias was the backbone of the defence, and he was typically strong and uncompromising. Always on hand to snuff out any dangerous Leeds attacks, he also enjoyed a lot of possession and completed a match-high number of passes. He also used his physicality brilliantly to knock the ball down for Ake’s pressure-relieving goal.

Aymeric Laporte: 7/10

Laporte looked in danger after a nasty clash of heads with Koch, but battled on and produced a stunning block to deny Raphinha and keep the clean sheet intact after seventy minutes. All in all, it was a good day at the office for the Spaniard, who was a reliable passer from the back and completed 8 of 11 attempted long balls.

Nathan Ake: 7/10

Ake had a torrid evening in the unfavoured left-back role as Leeds targeted him in the first half with little cover from Grealish, but he improved as the game progressed and scored an important goal in City’s season.

Rodri: 8/10

It was yet another fantastic display in the middle of the park from arguably the best holding midfielder in Europe, Rodri. The Spaniard’s glancing header gave City the lead, and he asserted his dominance over midfield with his razor-sharp distribution, neatly spreading the play. Off the ball, he showed his combative side by making two tackles and winning the same number of interceptions, clearances, and aerial battles.

Ilkay Gundogan: 6/10

In what was at times a boisterous Elland Road atmosphere, Gundogan was typically collected and composed. He looked sharp on the ball with some really cultured passes, but could not provide the same degree of control as De Bruyne or Silva, and lacked a bit of dynamism. Nevertheless, he made a crucial interception before the interval when Leeds were piling on the pressure and did his job well enough.

Phil Foden: 9/10

Amongst several stellar displays from City players, Foden’s great performance stood out with two deadly set-piece deliveries and one open-play assist. The English wonderkid teased the ball in the dangerous area between goalkeeper and defence for the opener, while his delivery to assist Rodri’s header was equally good.

Then, he picked the correct pass to set up Jesus with a ball that he made seem effortless. He was the primary protagonist in producing the key moments of brilliance from the No 10 role, humiliating defenders for fun with his trickery and also exhibiting a few neat touches in tight areas.

Raheem Sterling: 7.5/10

Unfortunately, he did not come away some kind of individual accolade away from the game, but Raheem Sterling was easily City’s liveliest player for much of the match. The English attacker was positive, sharp with his dribbling and made some thrilling runs to get himself into some promising positions, but could not quite find the finishing touches. Still, he had the Leeds backline in tatters many times.

Gabriel Jesus: 8/10

The Brazilian forward just cannot stop scoring for City at the minute as he kept his scoring streak going when slotting home to put the contest to bed late on. Jesus was kept fairly silent with the exception of one opportunity late in the first half, but breezed into life in the second half and finished the game with a match-high five key passes.

Jack Grealish: 7/10

Early on, Grealish had no joy down the right, but he eventually upped his game. Frustrations were on display after being the victim of two obvious fouls, but the referee found nothing wrong on both occasions. Had Luke Ayling on toast every time he got him in a one-on-one situation. Like Sterling and Jesus, he missed a wonderful opportunity to make it 2-0 and his profligacy was apparent.

SUBSTITUTES

Oleksandr Zinchenko: 6/10

When Ake needed to come off in the second half, Zinchenko slotted in rather well and improved the quality of play down the left flank. The Ukrainian full-back also produced a lovely late block.

Bernardo Silva: N/A

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

Fernandinho: 7/10

Fernandinho came off the bench to replace Rodri and scored a fantastic, well-struck goal from just outside the box for City’s four, and potentially his last ever in Sky Blue.

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