Monday 6th May, the final home game of the season and one that would ultimately determine the destination of the Premier League title. Manchester City took on Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium and with Liverpool beating Newcastle United two days before, the pressure was straight back on Pep Guardiola’s team to deliver three points to take the title race to the final day.
Nerves were at fever pitch amongst City fans. Leicester were a team which had already been victorious against the Premier League champions on Boxing Day in a performance which made the Blues look a shadow of their former selves. Liverpool had again beaten Newcastle that day at Anfield and it felt like the title was slipping away.
Now the Foxes had Brendan Rodgers at the helm. A man which has often been a thorn in City’s side. He was Celtic manager when City took on Celtic in the Champions League group stages during the 2016/17 season and caused a lot of problems, including a 3-3 draw at Celtic Park with the Scottish side taking the lead three times. Rodgers was also manager at Liverpool during the 2013/14 season which included an emotional 3-2 win over City at Anfield which sparked off title celebrations before that Gerrard slip.
All 54,000 City fans who packed into the Etihad Stadium had every right to be nervous on a warm bank holiday evening. Rodgers knows how to disrupt City along with Leicester and what better way to spoil the party than beating Pep Guardiola’s team potentially handing Liverpool the title. Mike Dean was also officiating, so every fan watching the match was waiting for some viral moment from the celebrity official which will find itself on social media within seconds.
The whistle was blown, and the longest 90 minutes of this season began.
Immediately it was clear that Leicester was not going to ‘park the bus’ with a barrage of shots at Ederson’s goal within the first 10 minutes. City were not going to be in for an easy ride. A rigid defensive shape from the Foxes made it difficult for City to break down. As soon as the Blues seized possession, Leicester would fill the midfield along with a back five or six almost covering every inch of their own half.
While some may immediately see this as putting 11 men behind the ball, Leicester were willing to try and keep the ball, launching their own attacks and they had the tools to do that. James Maddison, Ben Chilwell and Jamie Vardy were just some of the dangers to City’s defence with their pace against a back four containing club captain Vincent Kompany.
While Kompany is still an unbelievable player, pace often gets the better of him and there was a perfect example last season at the King Power Stadium. A ball was played from Vincente Iborra to Vardy who was through on goal and the only way Kompany could stop this threat was by taking out the former England international. The Belgian was shown a yellow card, but really should have been sent down the tunnel.
Back to the 6th May 2019 and the match had just passed the 70-minute mark and nerves had crept into the stands. There was the ongoing fear that there will be a last-minute nail in the coffin for City retaining the Premier League title, but, then came that shot.
Cagey matches like this always call for a special moment and as Aymeric Laporte passed the ball to Vincent Kompany, no one knew except for him, what was about to happen. Taking two touches, he set aim on the top right corner and THWACK!
Absolute limbs is the only way I would describe seeing that goal in the stadium. I have never hugged so many random people in my life when that bullet of a shot went in. Kompany slid into the corner and it felt like THAT Sergio Aguero moment all over again.
The next 20 minutes or so was just endless singing. Everyone in that stadium was up on their feet until former City striker Kelechi Iheanacho went through on goal, but, put his chance wide. Clearly still blue at heart.
Mike Dean blew for full time after creating some unnecessary vanishing spray free kick lines. Captain Fantastic had put City within touching distance of the title. Pep Guardiola’s team had done something which title rivals Liverpool had relied on during the season – a moment of magic to win matches and this magical goal from Vincent Kompany summed up City’s ‘fight till the end’ mentality in this 14-game unbeaten run.
Vincent Kompany is Mr Manchester City and, some may argue, the best player to pull on the sky-blue shirt. The Belgian has fully embraced the city of Manchester since arriving in 2008, starting a family, helping the homeless and ultimately earning him the title of ‘Honorary Manc’.
A 25-yard screamer is the perfect way to end your final competitive appearance at the Etihad Stadium and just like his header against Manchester United in April 2012, he summed up City’s endless pursuit of greatness.
Kompany’s classy statement following his departure from the club and what the future holds left City fans a bit worse for wear a day after completing the domestic treble, but, on social media there were messages which could only praise the Belgian’s contribution to a team which has gone from mediocre to Premier League giant. While his goal against Leicester defined a season, Vincent Kompany’s contribution has defined the Sheikh Mansour era.
Thank you, Vincent Kompany, for everything you have done for this club, good luck with your managerial role at Anderlecht and just keep in mind, City loves you more than you will know.
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