LONDON • Manchester City's top-four quest remains intact with two matches remaining after they hung on desperately for a scrappy 2-1 win against Leicester yesterday.
As is often the case with this Pep Guardiola side, they coasted, then eventually lost their thread, and had a Riyad Mahrez slip when taking a 77th-minute penalty to thank for ultimately taking all three points and moving into third place.
Mahrez was brought down by Gael Clichy for the spot kick but then careered over, kicking the ball on to his standing leg and so taking two touches. Referee Robert Madley correctly ruled out the finish past Willy Caballero, giving the home team a free kick.
Foxes manager Craig Shakespeare bemoaned his side's bad luck, but said: "(The referee) could bring it back for an encroachment from Manchester City, so there's a bit of injustice. It's bad luck from our point of view, but two City players were in the penalty box.
"Still, I'm pleased with the way we went around it in the second half. They're getting every last drop out of themselves."
In the first half, Madley did award City a goal after David Silva's shot went past Kasper Schmeichel as Raheem Sterling stuck out a leg. The forward may have made contact and also may have been marginally offside, standing just ahead of Christian Fuchs.
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Schmeichel led the complaints to the referee, who paused but allowed Silva's effort to stand.
That was 29 minutes in and two more goals were to follow before the break. First City doubled their lead as Leroy Sane and Silva cut through the visitors' defence before Yohan Benalouane scythed the young German down.
Madley pointed to the spot and Gabriel Jesus sent Schmeichel the wrong way, slotting home to the keeper's right.
Leicester pulled one back when Mahrez swept the ball left to Marc Albrighton, whose cross to Shinji Okazaki was volleyed beyond Caballero's reach.
"We have two games left and this match was so important - against the last champions," said Guardiola. "When you play against them you understand why they were champions. In the first half we were good and it was a shame to concede an amazing goal."
City's lack of a killer edge, which Guardiola constantly bemoans, could have been punished when Albrighton nearly equalised in the second half from a Jamie Vardy pass.
The winger mistimed the shot and City were able to breathe again, although they were now involved in a different contest to the one that had allowed them go 2-0 up.
Their rhythm had been disrupted, causing a concerned Guardiola to prowl the technical area.
Vardy also came close to an equaliser but City held on through seven minutes of added time. Still, this is the latest evidence Guardiola has work to do in the close season.