By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England -Manchester City crushed Leeds United 7-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday to make it seven Premier League wins a row and move four points clear at the top of the table.
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds were simply brushed aside by a City side who were at their very best after they took an eighth-minute lead through Phil Foden.
Foden slotted home, after Leeds keeper Illan Meslier had come out to stop an effort from Rodri, for the 500th Premier League goal scored by the club in 207 games under Pep Guardiola – the fastest any team has reached that landmark.
The Spaniard’s counterpart, Leeds’ Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa, could do nothing to halt a rampant City and his team’s wide-open approach certainly did little to help.
Five minutes later the lead was doubled when Jack Grealish met an inswinging cross from Riyad Mahrez with a firm header which flashed past Leeds keeper Meslier.
Kevin De Bruyne made it 3-0, showing pace and a clinical finish, as he latched on to a fine through ball from the impressive Rodri.
It was game over at the break but City showed no interest in easing off and Leeds were unable to cope with Guardiola’s side in peak form.
Shortly after the restart Mahrez added the fourth, given far too much space on the corner of the box, to pick his spot and place the ball, with the aid of a heavy deflection, in the bottom corner.
Mahrez then set up Foden for a tap-in but Leeds were given a rare reprieve on a grim night for the Yorkshire club, when the effort was ruled out for offside.
De Bruyne, looking back to his very best, then delivered the most emphatic moment in the game, blasting in a spectacular, unstoppable drive from over 20 metres out.
It was hard to imagine how Leeds had managed to take four points off City last season as John Stones slotted home the sixth after a fine double save from Meslier and then substitute Nathan Ake headed in a Foden corner to make it 7-0.
The loss was 16th-placed Leeds’ joint biggest defeat since joining the Football League in 1920.
They lost 8-1 to Stoke in 1934, 7-0 to West Ham in 1966 and 7-0 to Arsenal in 1979.
“There is nothing positive to take away from our performance,” said Bielsa.
“I can’t find anything that can be valued. When there’s nothing that’s well done, it’s not individualities that fail, but the conduction and organisation. There’s no justification I can offer.
“Everything that happened was what we wanted to avoid. As there’s nothing to take from it, it’s inevitable I have to take responsibility for a defeat of this type. We’ve never had a performance like the one today,” he said.
City have 41 points with Liverpool and Chelsea, who both play on Thursday, on 37 and 36 points respectively.
De Bruyne, whose return to fitness was hampered by COVID-19, said the win was a “booster” for the side.
“I think we played incredibly well, especially against the way they pressed. We found the right times to attack them. When we were 3-0 or 4-0 up it gets tough for them and they tried to keep it tight in the second half, but we had a lot of chances to score more.
“It’s good for everybody, a lot of people who maybe didn’t play a lot played today and chipped in. For the whole team it is a booster,” he said.