Sam Allardyce’s first game back in the Premier League ended in a 2-1 loss as Manchester City beat Leeds at the Etihad.
On the day of the King’s Coronation, Manchester City looked to take another step towards reclaiming their crown, coming up against a Leeds side mired in the relegation battle.
The reigning Kings of English football dominated from the off, with Sam Allardyce’s Leeds unsurprisingly looking to keep it tight at the back. Their resistance only lasted 18 minutes, however, Ilkay Gundogan stroking home a lovely first-time finish into the bottom right corner after receiving a well-weighted layoff from Riyad Mahrez.
The same duo combined nine minutes later to make it 2-0, the Algerian again picking out Gundogan on the edge of the box, though the Germany international had time and space to take a touch before steering his strike into the bottom left corner.
Erling Haaland has been the goalscoring King of the Premier League so far this season, though the Leeds-born striker squandered a number of opportunities to extend the league leaders’ advantage, twice hitting the post in the second half.
Gundogan had a chance to seal his first career hat-trick, Phil Foden being brought down by Pascal Struijk in the box, only for the midfielder to crash the resulting penalty off the post, much to the dismay of Pep Guardiola who had called for Haaland to take it.
Less than 60 seconds after that missed spot kick, Leeds set up a nervy finish, Rodrygo taking advantage of a Manuel Akanji mistake before firing home from the edge of the box.
Leeds remain outside the bottom three on goal difference, with games against Newcastle, West Ham and Spurs still to come. Speaking afterwards, Sam Allardyce admitted he was ‘slightly fearful’ at times, but felt that the second-half performance was something to ‘build on’.
“In difficult circumstances but accepting the job, you have to do the best you can,” he told Match of the Day. “It is about being on the training ground for the last week and feeling the adrenaline rush of that and a squad of players we have to make better and as good as we can with four games left.
“It is a difficult challenge but one we have jumped at – me, Karl [Robinson] and Robbie [Keane]. We have to try to get to the position where we can try and win a football match. We take some hope out of today on the second-half performance. Not the first, but the second.
“We now need to build on that and try to get a result. I was slightly fearful, but we sorted it out for the second half and told them they were playing with too much fear. They needed to get on the front foot and try to challenge them. Apart from a silly penalty… and a great save by Joel [Robles] that gave us a chance to go up the other end and score. When you see Man City running down the clock for four minutes at the end, you know you have given yourself a chance. We did right until the end, but it didn’t quite happen.
“Without a huge amount of knowledge, barring that from the staff that was already here, we knew we would have to make five subs today. It was disappointing that one of our subs [Pascal Struijk] gave the penalty away.
“The rest came on and kept us going. We were putting fresh legs on and adding energy which helped us create a good goal. Karl was saying, when we were making the last two, there was still 15 minutes to go. But I told him we’d take the risk. It was worth it. We came close, but not close enough.”
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