Man City’s win at Leicester shows depth of leaders’ quality

LEICESTER, England (AP) — When even Benjamin Mendy is scoring, it’s a sign of just how well the quadruple chase is going for Manchester City.

With the international break over, the runaway leaders started the Premier League title run-in with a 2-0 victory over Leicester, started by Mendy breaking the deadlock on Saturday.

After Riyad Mahrez’s shot was punched clear by Kasper Schmeichel, Mendy eventually received the ball to curl in a low shot past the Leicester goalkeeper in the 58th minute.

After not scoring in his opening 39 league games for City, the third-choice left back now has two in his last six as Pep Guardiola’s side closes in on a third title in four seasons.

“He’s a special person, the way he lives,” Guardiola said. “He has an incredible heart and when a player is honest like he is, the people love him so much.”

There was a more familiar name on the score sheet for the second in the 74th minute and a familiar creator of the goal.

“Quite good, huh?” Guardiola said of Kevin De Bruyne. “It’s not the first time he has done it so now to score goals.”

After a defense-splitting throughball from De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus passed to Raheem Sterling, who returned the ball for the forward to finish rather than shooting himself.

In the week when City looked to the future with Sergio Aguero’s end-of-season departure announced, this was a fourth goal in as many league games for Gabriel Jesus on the Brazilian’s 24th birthday.

Sterling had come on in the second half for Aguero after starting three times for England in World Cup qualifiers.

With center back John Stones and left back Joao Cancelo unused substitutes at the King Power Stadium, this was a lineup showing the depth of quality available as City moved 17 points ahead of Manchester United with seven games remaining, having played two games more than its neighbor.

“All the managers we think the same after the international break, how the players will be back, and the head will be there and mentally will be there,” Guardiola said. “Again these players prove again how consistent they are in every single game.”

A fifth title since 2012 will surely be sealed long before the final week of the season when supporters are due to be finally allowed back into Premier League grounds.

As this pandemic-condensed season nears an end, Guardiola will be needing to make use of the squad with City also pursuing glory in the Champions League with a quarterfinal against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, in the FA Cup with a semifinal against Chelsea in two weeks, and a quicker shot at a title with this month’s League Cup final against Tottenham.

Leicester could yet meet City in the FA Cup final. It plays Southampton in the semifinals.

More valuable than a trophy for Leicester will be returning to the Champions League.

Leicester missed a chance to dislodge United from second but was helped out by fourth-place Chelsea losing to West Bromwich Albion as the 2016 champions pursue qualification for the Champions League for the first time since then.

“If you can get me 500 million pounds then we probably won’t be too far off (City),” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said. “They are a fantastic team. You see the likes of Raheem coming into the game, he’s a world class player. and the changes they can make.”

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