EPL

There was one team playing - De Bruyne hails Man City's dominance at Leicester

By Sports Desk April 03, 2021

Kevin De Bruyne felt Manchester City deserved even more than a 2-0 victory from their dominant display at Leicester City.

The 18-point gulf between Pep Guardiola's champions-elect and the third-placed Foxes was in evidence for large stretches of the game at the King Power Stadium, where De Bruyne was named man of the match.

The Belgium playmaker struck the crossbar with a first-half free-kick but Pep Guardiola's men had to wait until the 58th minute to find a breakthrough – left-back Benjamin Mendy the unlikely goalscorer.

Gabriel Jesus netted for the fifth time in six outings against Leicester to seal the points, the Brazil forward the beneficiary of Raheem Sterling's unselfishness and a majestic De Bruyne throughball.

"I thought it was really good. The first half we totally dominated," De Bruyne told Sky Sports.

"They had the one chance that was offside with [Jamie] Vardy, but basically there was one team playing.

"Second half, Leicester did a little bit better but, if you look at the 90 minutes, it was 2-0 and I think we deserved even more goals.

"After an international break, that's really well done from the team."

Ex-England striker Vardy rolling into the net when he was flagged offside during first-half stoppage time showed how some profligate finishing might have undermined the Premier League leaders' smooth control of proceedings, but De Bruyne insisted they remained calm.

"We created chances, we should have scored but that happens," he said.

"We knew the way they play against us was going to be really difficult. They play really defensive.

"We had to be patient and that what we did. I was very happy for Mendy then to break the deadlock."

Guardiola's side were thrashed 5-2 by Leicester back in September, with this sharply contrasting performance demonstrating the strides made since.

"That was a bad game from us and they deserved to win but that was such a long time ago," De Bruyne added, with Borussia Dortmund up next in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

"We've picked it up during the season and done well, so I'm really happy.

"In the end I'm here to provide for the team and if I can set my team-mates up and they finish it I'm happy.

"It's one win more and it's good to get in the rhythm because Tuesday is another game."

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    "We lost a match against a team who are fighting to win the league but there are nine matches and all the matches are important for the three best teams.

    "It's difficult for all three of us. We will come back, we will fight until the last match."

    Barca attempted 12 shots in total in the second half, three of those on target, and nearly snatched a point when Ilaix Moriba struck the crossbar in the 94th minute.

    But, Koeman became the first Barcelona coach to lose his first two LaLiga games against Madrid since Joaquim Rife in 1980 (also the first two).

    Koeman could not hide his frustration post-match, having felt his side should have had a penalty when substitute Martin Braithwaite went down in the box under pressure from Ferland Mendy.

    The former Netherlands boss said: "I'm not the only person who's upset about the decision, or lack of decision.

    "The players feel disappointed because of this decision by the referee to not give the penalty and there's players who have been playing for years for Barcelona, so I know. But once again not all decisions were right.

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    Lionel Messi, meanwhile, failed to score in seven consecutive Clasicos in all competitions for the first time in his career.

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    Seven not heaven for Messi

    Lionel Messi had seven attempts on goal, including when he hit the post with an audacious effort directly from a corner towards the end of the first half.

    No Barcelona player had more shots, but Messi could not find a way through in what could potentially be his final tangle with Madrid in this famous fixture.

    The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has now gone seven Clasicos in all competitions without scoring – the longest drought of his career against Los Blancos.

    Simply the Benz

    At the head of Madrid's attack, Karim Benzema simply cannot stop scoring, irrespective of the opponents.

    His sensational backheel flick to convert Lucas Vazquez's 13th-minute cross was a finish that is sure to be cherished for years to come.

    Benzema has now scored in his past seven LaLiga games, netting nine times overall during this period.

    The Frenchman is the fourth Madrid player in the 21st century to have scored in seven consecutive top-flight outings after Ruud van Nistelrooy, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

    Kroos ends dead ball torpor

    From Ronaldo to David Beckham, Madrid have rarely been shy of free-kick specialists.

    It comes as a surprise, therefore, that Toni Kroos' strike on Saturday made him the first player in white to score a direct free-kick in El Clasico this century.

    Sure, it deflected off Sergino Dest and bounced off Jordi Alba's head on the goal line, but they all count. Right, Toni?

    Mignueza opens his account

    Oscar Mingueza endured a torrid first half as Vinicius Junior ran him ragged, but the Barcelona defender bounced back after the break.

    Mingueza appeared in the Madrid penalty area to convert when substitute Antoine Griezmann dummied Alba's cross.

    The previous Barca defender to score on his first appearance in El Clasico was Marc Bartra in the 2014 Copa de Rey final.

    Ref on Casemiro's case

    Mingueza was also involved in another key moment, when Casemiro fouled him outside the Madrid box in the final minute of normal time.

    That earned the combative Brazilian his second booking and only the second sending off of his Madrid career.

    During this time, Casemiro has committed 478 fouls in all competitions. All in all, not a bad ratio.

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