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    Manchester City increased their lead at the top of the table, beating Brentford

    Manchester City surged 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win against Brentford, while Tottenham’s top four bid suffered a blow in a dramatic 3-2 defeat against Southampton on Wednesday. Pep Guardiola’s side extended their unbeaten run in the league to 14 matches thanks to Riyad Mahrez’s first half penalty and Kevin De Bruyne’s strike after the interval at the Etihad Stadium. City were held to a 1-1 draw at Southampton in their previous league game, but they got back on track to pile the pressure on second placed Liverpool, who host Leicester on Thursday in one of their two games in hand on the champions.

    The home team dominated the game without creating a huge amount of danger for Thomas Frank’s side, but ultimately coasted to the three points after two goals which were relative gifts but also came as a result of City’s relentless pressing.

    Riyad Mahrez scored a first-half penalty after Raheem Sterling had been fouled in the box following the Citizens winning the ball back high up the pitch. Then, after the break, a misplaced pass from Bees ‘keeper David Raya was met by a swarm of City players, and although he saved Sterling’s effort there was nothing he could do about Kevin De Bruyne’s rebound.

    After the second goal, City looked more confident and came close on a couple of other occasions as they strolled through the remaining 20 minutes and started to look better value for their victory than during the initial period.

    City’s lead over Liverpool

    The result leaves City 12 points ahead of second-placed Liverpool and the distance could be a huge psychological boost for Pep Guardiola’s side, as the Reds will have their work cut out to get anywhere near them now.

    • Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City beat Brentford 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night 
    • Riyad Mahrez scored from the penalty spot after Raheem Sterling was fouled by Brentford’s Mads Roerslev 
    • Kevin de Bruyne doubled City’s lead midway through the second-half after an error from David Raya
    • Premier League champions extended their lead to 12 points ahead of Liverpool at the top of the table 

    Winning the Premier League is all about getting the basics right and then finding moments of inspiration from your talented players.

    And as Manchester City extended their lead at the top to 12 points ahead of Liverpool’s clash with Leicester tomorrow night, they got both right.

    Just as it was in the encounter in west London in December, this was a bruising, tight encounter against hard-working, well-organised opponents.

    But the breakthrough came down to Raheem Sterling doing what he does best, taking the direct option, and then Riyad Mahrez making no mistake from the resulting penalty.

    Kevin De Bruyne made sure with a second goal from a mistake by Bees keeper David Raya in the second half, but this was merely a competent, professional display from the Blues, with no frills and few thrills.

    It was a moment of sheer pace from Sterling that finally broke Brentford’s resistance, which had been aided by moments of sloppiness and inaccuracy from the Blues in the opening 45 minutes.

    MAN ON THE SPOT

    Up until this season penalties had occasionally caused a touch of consternation for City over the past year or so – but in Riyad Mahrez we have found a man with the coolness and composure to shoulder the big responsibility.

    Another successful conversion from 12 yards made it six penalties out of six for the Algerian this season and it was the seventh straight game where he has found the target.

    In the wake of his brace against Fulham at the weekend, which included another nerveless penalty, Pep Guardiola was quick to praise Mahrez’s ability from the spot.

    “In the last year we struggled with penalties and now he is a guarantee. He has the personality to take the ball and do it,” the manager declared.

    And the 30-year-old further amplified those words with his latest penalty poise further illustrating that he is arguably in the best form of his City career.

    A deadly finish from 12 yards again demonstrated that he is also proving to be City’s man on the spot whatever the circumstances!

    MAN OF THE MATCH

    Joao Cancelo produced another excellent all-round display.

    Deployed at left-back once again, the Portuguese international was both assured in defence and a potent attacking threat.

    And only a fine save from Brentford keeper Raya prevented him rounding off another fine night’s work with a goal.

    TEAMS

    CITY: Ederson, Stones, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Sterling, Foden (Gundogan 70), Mahrez (Grealish 65)
    Subs: Steffen, Walker, Ake, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Delap, McAtee

    BRENTFORD: Raya, Henry, Pinnock, Jansson, Ajer, Roerslev, Norgaard, Onyeka, Jensem, Ghoddos (Mbeuno 62), Canos (Dasilva 62)
    Subs: Fernandez, Lossl, Wissa, Baptiste, Sorensen, Stevens

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