Bernardo Silva earns Manchester City hard-fought victory against Leicester

There is more than one Manchester club with a brilliant Portuguese forward. Fresh from scoring for his country in midweek after stepping in for Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva delivered a glittering performance for Manchester City, crowning his display with the only goal of a high-class game.

Pep Guardiola’s team may have stumbled at the start of this season but here they served a reminder that finishing above them will still be mighty tough.

Silva came close to leaving Manchester during this summer in pursuit of more regular starts but instead he stuck around and has struck up a fruitful relationship with the freshly-arrived Jack Grealish.

At the King Power, as in the 5-0 wins over Norwich and Arsenal, that pair connived like exquisitely skilled scamps, with João Cancelo often joining in to make the left-hand side of Manchester City’s attack at times irresistible. Almost inevitably, that was the route through which Silva scored just after the hour after a move involving Grealish and Cancelo.

“The connection between [Silva], Jack and João was brilliant,” said the Manchester City manager Guardiola. “It’s not just their qualities as players but also their incredible work ethic. [Silva] is playing well and we are happy that he stayed. We’ll see what happens in the future.”

At first it looked like Guardiola’s team might strut all over their hosts. They popped the ball around almost as they pleased, immediately pushing Leicester backwards. After five minutes Leicester had conceded more corners than they had completed passes. And then they nearly fell behind, as Silva skipped past Çağlar Söyüncü and Youri Tielemans before clipping the ball back from the byline to Gabriel Jesus, who was deployed on the right while Ferran Torres continued as a false nine. Kasper Schmeichel batted away Jesus’s header at the back post.

That triggered a reaction from Leicester. Jamie Vardy raced on to a pass from Marc Albrighton and fired a low cross from the right towards the back post. Kyle Walker slid in to get to it before Harvey Barnes and, in the process, clattered his own goalkeeper in the face. James Maddison retrieved the ball and fed it back to Wilfred Ndidi; his shot was blocked by Walker, who was still on the ground. Ederson no doubt felt grateful for that, at least, as he spat blood from his mouth.

Now we had the heavyweight battle to be expected between the Premier League champions and FA Cup holders. Manchester City continued to have more possession but were not allowed to enjoy it as much. Still they created openings.

When Silva teed up Ilkay Gündogan in the 14th minute, Ryan Bertrand charged down the midfielder’s volley. Silva threatened again seven minutes later, forcing Schmeichel to tip a shot from the edge of the area around the post. It was a busy afternoon for Schmeichel, who thwarted Torres and Jesus before the break.

While the visitors created clearer openings, Leicester gave them plenty to think about in the first period and frequently stretched their defence. And then, early in the second half, they tore it open. Vardy was again the provider, hurtling down the right and crossing for Barnes, whose header from 12 yards skimmed the bar on the way over. Then Vardy had a goal chalked off for a hairline offside decision. Just as the home side scented a breakthrough, though, they were struck down.

Grealish probed near the byline on the left before teeing up Cancelo, whose shot on the run from 20 yards was diverted desperately by Söyüncü. Silva reacted faster than anyone else to clip the loose ball over Schmeichel and into the net from six yards.

Brendan Rodgers looked to his bench for solutions, and two of his substitutes nearly combined for an equaliser in the 75th minute. But Ederson, evidently undeterred by his earlier blow, rushed off the line to smother Ademola Lookman’s shot after lovely work by Kelehchi Iheanacho.

That was as close as Leicester came to equalising. Grealish and Fernandinho could have made the win more emphatic but could not convert.