LONDON: Manchester City ended their Chelsea hoodoo on Saturday, beating the European champions 1-0 while Bruno Fernandes missed a last-gasp penalty in Manchester United’s shock 1-0 Premier League defeat by Aston Villa.
Gabriel Jesus’ second-half strike proved decisive for Pep Guardiola’s men, who gained a measure of revenge for three consecutive defeats by Chelsea, including a painful loss in the Champions League final in Porto.
The win lifted the defending champions to 13 points alongside Liverpool, Chelsea and United, who conceded a late goal to Villa defender Kortney Hause before suffering the agony of the missed spot-kick.
Elsewhere, Jamie Vardy netted twice at the right end against Burnley after scoring an early own goal in a 2-2 draw for stuttering Leicester while Norwich City slumped to their sixth consecutive league defeat.
Guardiola said this week that his side lacked a ‘weapon’ to match Chelsea’s record signing Romelu Lukaku or United’s Cristiano Ronaldo to decide games inside the box.
But Jesus ultimately made the difference for City, who could have won more convincingly but for a combination of wasteful finishing and some impressive last-ditch defending.
The Brazilian forward got the break City deserved in the 53rd minute as his effort deflected off Jorginho to leave goalkeeper Edouard Mendy flat-footed.
The visitors had chances to double their lead, with Jack Grealish drawing a sharp save before Jesus was denied a second by Thiago Silva’s goal-line clearance while Thomas Tuchel’s team failed to muster a single shot on target.
“Sometimes we believe we need a proper striker to finish, but the important thing is the way we play,” Guardiola told the BBC. “The most important thing is doing it as a team and as a unit. It’s like last season. Sergio [Aguero, who has left the club] was injured all year and we won the Premier League.”
Villa arrived at Old Trafford with a woeful record of one win in their previous 45 Premier League games against Manchester United, including 33 defeats.
The home side, boasting a star-studded attack including Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood had 28 shots in all but Villa missed some gilt-edged chances of their own.
Just when it appeared the game was drifting towards a draw, Villa’s Hause flicked a near-post header beyond David de Gea from a Douglas Luiz corner in the 88th minute.
Minutes later he went from hero to villain when he handled Fernandes’ cross but the United playmaker sent his spot-kick high over the bar — just the second time he has failed to score from a penalty in 23 attempts for the club.
It was a second home defeat of the week for United and a first in the Premier League this season, while they also lost Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw to injuries in front of watching England boss Gareth Southgate United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose side have lost three of their past four matches in all competitions criticised the way Fernandes was surrounded before his penalty.
“First of all the way they get round the penalty spot, get round Bruno and that, that’s not to my liking,” he said. “Bruno is usually very good in those positions and unfortunately he missed this one.
“It doesn’t get in Bruno’s head. He’s strong mentally and he’ll step forward again. The decision [on who takes penalties] is made before the game.”
Everton beat Norwich 2-0 while West Ham United overcame struggling Leeds United 2-1 with a late Michail Antonio goal. Watford had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Newcastle United after having a late goal ruled out for offside.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were in action at Brentford in the late kick-off on Saturday, with a chance to go three points clear at the top of the table.
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2021