Under-fire Man City capture three valuable points vs. Leicester
David Silva and James Milner struck late in each half as under-fire reigning champions Manchester City grabbed a scrappy but much-needed 2-0 win over Leicester in the Barclays Premier League.
Silva pounced from close range to put City ahead after an unconvincing start at the Etihad Stadium and Milner came off the bench to settle nerves in the last minute. It was far from a fluent display from City but the result will at least take some of the heat off manager Manuel Pellegrini after a testing few days.
The hosts could justifiably claim victory was deserved after forcing veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to make several fine saves. But the Foxes were denied three penalties - with two appeals looking particularly strong - and defeat was harsh on the hard-working bottom side.
Luck was therefore on Pellegrini's side after the build-up to the game had been dominated by criticism of his tactics in damaging losses to Barcelona and Liverpool and speculation over his future. The Chilean responded strongly to that by dropping captain Vincent Kompany to the bench while Samir Nasri and Fernandinho did not feature in the squad.
Edin Dzeko and Pablo Zabaleta also found themselves among the substitutes in the reshuffle, while Â£25million January signing Wilfried Bony was handed his first start. The changes initially appeared to do little to fire up the side.
No spark came from the crowd either with the atmosphere subdued following the last two dispiriting results. What flicker of life they did show in the opening stages came from Jesus Navas, who looked in the mood after being left out at Anfield on Sunday.
But it was Leicester who threatened first, with Jeff Schlupp completely wrong-footing Eliaquim Mangala on the counter-attack. Martin Demichelis came across to help out his partner. Leicester then had their first two penalty appeals in quick succession. Schlupp was unlucky not to get a decision in his favor when it appeared he was impeded by Bony.
Andrej Kramaric then went down as he raced with Joe Hart to meet Riyad Mahrez's superb through-ball but the England goalkeeper did get a touch before the pair collided. Navas was berated by Yaya Toure after misplacing a pass but he was not deterred, firing in a good cross from which Bony forced Mark Schwarzer to block.
Navas then tested Schwarzer himself with a good effort from the edge of the box before Silva teed up Bony with a clever ball, only for the Ivorian to slice high and wide. City were performing only in fits and starts but they seized the advantage on the stroke of half-time as Aleksandar Kolarov crossed from the left. Bony was unable to take advantage but Silva pounced, tapping in from close range after his initial effort was partially blocked by Wes Morgan.
Bony made an even bigger mess of a chance early in the second half, racing into the perfect position to meet Navas' pull-back but completely miscuing and hitting the corner flag. Leicester were again unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when Fernando brought Kramaric down, but referee Robert Madley ruled the offense just outside the area. Replays suggested it may have been just inside and Kramaric was denied again as his free-kick was deflected agonizingly wide.
City wanted to kill off the game but Schwarzer kept the Foxes in it with a fine save to keep out a Sergio Aguero header and did even better to claw away a long-range Toure strike. The hosts had a let-off when Mahrez got away a shot and a slight deflection took it past Hart and onto the post but City responded with Toure and Kolarov going close.
Bony's frustrating debut had been brought to an end after 72 minutes and his replacement, Milner, did finally end the contest when he turned in a Navas cross in the closing moments.