A defensive lapse cost Sheffield United a result at the Etihad Stadium as they gifted league leaders Manchester City the only goal of the game.
Manchester City went into the match looking to consolidate their position at the top of the table. Meanwhile, the Blades were hoping to build on their shock 2-1 victory over Manchester United in midweek.
Pep Guardiola made five changes – Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho, Fernan Torres and Gabriel Jesus replacing Joao Cancelo, John Stones, Rodri, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling. Chris Wilder made four – John Egan, Jayden Bogle, Oliver Burke and Rhian Brewster coming in for Phil Jagielka, Kean Bryan, David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp.
As expected, the home side dominated possession. The Blades were content to try and sit deep and utilise Burke’s pace on the counter.
It took just nine minutes for City to score the game’s only goal. Torres took advantage of weak defending by Bogle and Ethan Ampadu to wiggle his way into the six-yard box. He squared for Jesus, who had been left unmarked by Chris Basham, to turn home under no pressure. Wilder will have been furious with the defence as the goal was completely avoidable.
Bernardo Silva should have doubled the home side’s lead. Ampadu’s lax header back to Aaron Ramsdale was glanced goalwards by the Portuguese. He did not get enough on the effort, directing it straight at the goalkeeper. It was a big let-off for Ampadu after his loss of concentration. Silva will feel that he should have done better.
Sheffield United’s first opportunity came courtesy of Brewster. A good spell of possession ended with the striker hitting a tame shot from the edge of the area straight at Ederson.
Into the second half and Ramsdale had to be alert to smother a promising Torres cross. The onrushing Jesus was centimetres away from connecting with it and scoring his second of the match.
The match looked to be fizzling out during the second half but came alive in the 72nd minute. Oleksandr Zinchenko benefitted from some excellent attacking play to force Ramsdale into a full-stretch save from around 25 yards out. The keeper was called into action again from the resulting corner, palming a strong Laporte header over the bar.
With five minutes left to play, Sheffield United fashioned their best chance of the game. A long ball was held up well by substitute Billy Sharp who chested down for John Fleck. However, the Scot fired a powerful left-footed half volley narrowly wide of the target.
City had big shouts for a penalty turned away in injury time by referee David Coote and later confirmed by VAR. A Foden cross hit the arm of George Baldock but was deemed unintentional. It was the sort of penalty claim that would have almost certainly been given earlier in the season.
The action was not quite over as Ramsdale was called into action once again. Foden fed Jesus through one-on-one on the counter and he forced the shot-stopper into a superb save to his left-hand side. Without the interventions of the goalkeeper, the scoreline would have been more emphatic.
The league leaders were composed and controlling and never really looked troubled by the Blades. However, the frustration for United fans will be that the side could have gained a point from the game had it not been for one set of defensive mistakes.
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko; Fernandinho (C), Gundogan, Silva; Torres (Rodri 90’), Jesus, Foden.
Subs not used: Steffen (GK), Stones, Sterling, Mendy, Mahrez, Cancelo, Garcia, Bernabe
Sheffield United: Ramsdale; Basham (McBurnie 77’), Egan (C), Ampadu; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Bogle; Brewster (McGoldrick 61’), Burke (Sharp 77’).
Subs not used: Foderingham (GK), Mousset, Lowe, Jagielka, Bryan, Gordon
Goalscorers: Manchester City: Jesus (9’)
Sheffield United: None
Bookings: Manchester City: None
Sheffield United: Norwood (24’), Baldock (82’), Egan (84’)
Half-time: Manchester City 1-0 Sheffield United
Full-time: Manchester City 1-0 Sheffield United
Referee: David Coote