Manchester City defeated the Bernabeu Blues, with Kevin De Bruyne leading the drive back to the Premier League summit. With five goals, they not only created a three-point lead over Liverpool at the top of the table, but they also overturned Liverpool’s goal differential advantage.
As resurgent Newcastle sought to cause an upset that would have been hailed as enthusiastically on the Mersey as it would have been on the Tyne, Belgium international De Bruyne, who had been curiously out of sorts in Madrid, was an unstoppable force of nature. From the start, he pushed City ahead, driving deep into Toon territory and delivering long and short passes with perfect weight and timing.
After the tragedies of Wednesday night, there was a fear that the Etihad would be lifeless, another shattering blow at the conclusion of a Champions League campaign. However, Liverpool’s defeat to Tottenham the night before, as well as a beautifully bright Manchester afternoon, served to put the world back in order and restore perspective.
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The goal remains for the Blues to join a select group of clubs that have won four of the last five English league titles, and both supporters and players know that four wins in the next four games would ensure that. Manchester City have won the premier league titles 7 times in total
Before the game, there was a discussion that City would look for a leader, a Vincent Kompany figure, to inspire them and bring them out of their disappointment. They did get a leader, but it was De Bruyne’s unassuming figure who picked up the club flag, which had been stomped into the Bernabeu turf in the space of 10 perplexing minutes and carried it back into the fight.
The Belgian was oddly quiet in Madrid, perhaps the only non-performer on a night when the Blues were excellent for 90 minutes before falling apart for the final ten. But he was outstanding against Newcastle, charging at the defense, fending off tackles, and delivering pinpoint passes at breakneck speed.
However, the game was not without risk, and City could have been two goals down early on if not for the Toon players’ errors. Allan Saint-Maximin presented Chris Wood with a straightforward header, which he calmly passed to Ederson, and then Bruno Guimaraes put his thigh in the way of Jamaal Lascelles’ corner header, rendering Wood’s subsequent finish irrelevant.
Manchester City is left with 3 more games this season:
The defense, which had buckled under the weight of Madrid’s history on Wednesday, did not get off to a good start and was twice wide exposed in the opening minutes. They began to turn the tide when De Bruyne, superbly supported by Ilkay Gundogan, stormed forward at every opportunity, and Joao Cancelo and Oleks Zinchenko routinely got in behind the visitor defense.