Manchester City reminded the world that Manchester United don’t have a monopoly on Portuguese superstars who know how to win league titles.
Bernardo Silva popped up with the goal that broke the deadlock in a tight, frantic encounter at the King Power Stadium, while the world’s football media were swooning and obsessing over Cristiano Ronaldo ’s second debut at Old Trafford.
That focus is an oddity – few seem to remember that at the last World Cup, Ronaldo was a peripheral figure for his country, while Bernardo was moved centrally and ran games for them as they reached the semi-finals.
Bernardo was being hailed as the next Portugal superstar while Ronaldo’s career was clearly winding down.
Of course, Bernardo has already masterminded one City title win, when he stepped into the breach left by Kevin De Bruyne’s long-term injury in 2018 and was the Blues’ best player – a whirr of astonishing work rate and supreme quality.
That sharpness has been dulled in the last two seasons, as he was upset by a racism charge and homesickness and unable to engineer a move away.
But he has begun this season well and is back to the swashbuckling attacking midfielder City fans have come to know and love.
The sight of him driving at a defence with the ball seemingly glued to his laces has been one of the finest sights for City fans in the last five years, and they are delighted that he could not pull off the summer move he wanted.
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And with Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden returning from injury to sit on the bench and give notice that the incredible competition for attacking places just got a lot harder, Bernado responded with a crucial goal and fine display.
City had already received one major fillip before the game as Gabriel Jesus and Ederson were both cleared to play, the Brazilian FA relenting to waive the five-day rule imposed due to their absence from last week’s World Cup qualifiers.
That proved crucial as Ederson bravely denied Harvey Barnes and then kept out Wilfred Ndidi.
In a frenetic first half, City had the lion’s share of the ball and played the game largely in the opposition half, but that was part of Brendan Rodgers’ masterplan.
Leicester defended like demons at time, not least in a storming first five minutes, when the Blues forced three corners and when Gabriel Jesus was presented with the first real chance.
The Brazil international, who only found out he could play in this game when e woke up this morning, after his national association relented on their initial insistence of sticking to Fifa’ five-day rule, popped up at the far post and was on the end of a floated cross.
The fact it was such a slow ball in did not help, as he had to try to generate power with his neck, and ended up placing the ball to close to Kasper Schmeichel, the former City keeper parrying the effort.
Bernardo Silva and then llkay Gundogan both tried to fire the loose ball home but were thwarted by blue-shirted defenders throwing themselves in the way.
And while City hammered away, the Foxes waited for their opportunity. It seemed to have come when the Blues were exposed down their right as Vardy broke and crossed first time for Harvey Barnes, only for Ederson – also cleared to play overnight – courageously hurled his body, and face, into Harvey Barnes’ path, and got a full set of studs in the mush as a reward.
As he reeled from the injury, Leicester retrieved the ball and when James Maddison teed up Wilfred Ndidi, only a diving block by Kyle Walker prevented a goal from the home side’s first attack.
That was the first half pattern, City methodically pegging the Foxes back but with Rodri and Aymeric Laporte both picking up yellow cards for fouls needed to prevent another dangerous breakaway.
Jesus kept his place on merit after being a star man in the two 5-0 wins over Norwich and Arsenal, but his early miss possibly affected him, and with Jack Grealish threatening ut not delivering on the other side, Ferran Torres was starved of meaningful service in the middle.
The best chance came from Gundogan’s closing down, the ball spinning to Bernardo Silva, who set off on a typical scurrying run towards the box before forcing a fine fingertip save from Schmeichel.
With the front three not troubling Leicester too much, Pep Guardiola must have been casting glances at the attacking talent on his bench, here Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling all sat.
City survived another big scare at the start of the second half as Vardy again raced down the right and floated in a ross for Barnes, whose header, on the gallop, skimmed the bar.
But City struck back, with Aymeric Laporte’s excellent channel ball being chased down by Torres – the ball held up o the dry surface and Caglar Soyuncu had a split-second in which to block.
Moments later another enterprising run from the Spain star was picked out by Gundogan, and this time his shot found the side netting.
Leicester continued to throw their bodies into the fray, but you sensed that sooner or later the luck of the rebound would run out, and so it did in the 62nd minute.
Grealish held play up on the left and teed the ball up nicely for Joao Cancelo, whose hammered shot again cannoned into a defender.
But this time Bernardo was on hand to lift the rebound over Schmeichel and put City ahead.
Guardiola’s instant response was to take off Torres, who had scorned a couple of half-chances, and replace him with Raheem Sterling.
Ederson had one last say in the game, racing out to block from Wilfred Ndidi and remind everyone of how crucial the overnight news of his respite was.