BENJAMIN MENDY has always had something of a defiant and eccentric streak– however even by his requirements this was stretching the point.
For less than a week we have actually all understood Manchester City will spend the summertime attempting to fill record-breaking Sergio Aguero’s boots.
And it didn’t take long for supervisor Pep Guardiola to firmly insist there is no opportunity Erling Haaland, Europe’s hottest hitman, will be doing so at the costs being priced quote.
But what no-one expected was that Mendy would be the first to throw his hat into the ring as the male to fire the bullets for the soon-to-be-crowned champs next season.
Oh, and if that wasn’t eye-rubbingly remarkable enough, with his right foot also. You know … the one he utilizes for basing on.
Little bit more than four months ago this was a guy still awaiting his very first City goal in almost four years ago the Etihad.
Well now he’s got two in his last six Premier League video games. Or, to put it another way, a better strike ratio than either Aguero or Jamie Vardy right now.
Okay, that last point is going a little too far. But for a man who makes Long John Silver look two-footed, the other day’s stalemate-smasher deserves its moment in the spotlight.
In fairness, City had bossed this from the off to the degree you half anticipate a towel to come drifting on from the Foxes bench sometimes.
But with nearly an hour gone, it was still goalless, Leicester were revealing signs that they might just elegant stunning Pep Guardiola once again, and the title assurance would stay 14 points away.
Yet after one more relentless City raid, this time there was indeed a route to objective– although the source was the most not likely of all.
When Rodrigo delivered a ball from the right, Youri Tielemans did superbly to acrobatically hook away from Gabriel Jesus.
It simply was up to Mendy, who stepped inside Marc Albrighton and then clipped the most scientific of surfaces into the far corner.
No wonder manager Guardiola reacted nearly like a giggling school child on the touchline. At the edging closer of another Premier League crown obviously … however likewise at the goalscorer.
Okay, City did guarantee there would be no late squeaky bum minutes when substitute Raheem Sterling teed up Gabriel Jesus for a tap-in that ended any remaining doubts for excellent.
Yet this was a night that was stolen by Mendy, when everyone actually expected it to be the start of Aguero’s grand goodbye.
Ironically City’s master blaster was in fact the reason his side didn’t go in a goal ahead at the break.
When Wesley Fofana stooped to head away Rodrigo’s delivery, Fernandinho– barely a dead-eye-dick of a finisher– scudded the rebound into the corner from all of 25 lawns.
Kasper Schmeichel never ever sniffed it, and the strike was so pinpoint, so true, that he probably would not have actually got close even if he ‘d had previous caution.
Yet Aguero had hopped over the ball en route to the goal, the linesman’s flag increased and referee Anthony Taylor ruled it out.
Strictly speaking, naturally, it was the proper choice. Them’s the guidelines, and all that, even if they are laughable sometimes.
It was a peach of a strike whether anyone remained in his eyeline or not, and concerned the Foxes’ rescue far much better than Schmeichel could have done.
Even then, with hardly 5 minutes on the clock, you never truly suspected it would be a moment Guardiola’s Galacticos pertained to regret.
This was a City side plainly with the bit in between their teeth. One intent on getting this title finished up as rapidly as possible, so they can focus on the other 3.
That very first half remained in danger of becoming a training school attack versus defence session, for all Leicester were hardly starved of possession.
The issue for them was there was never an out ball. City prowled and struck, closed down opportunities, and then returned. And again and once again and again … Aguero himself was the next with a whiff of objective, although his dropping volley-on-the-spin when Mahrez’ block teed him was anything but a gim me.
Kevin Bruyne then rattled the crossbar with a complimentary kick he made through the most theatrical of collapses, rather than any negative foul.
Schmeichel obstructed a Mahrez shot with his feet, Rodrigo could not deflect one in with his wedding take on and you did wonder if they would be chances City came to regret.
They might have done had a linesman’s flag not– correctly– rejected Vardy a goal, and after that a Ruben Dias deal with turned aside another effort.
Yet then Mendy decided it was time to step up and show the strikers how it’s done, following his very first City objective in the late November battering of Burnley.
And even though Jesus proved that all those prolific goalscorers on program could, er, score goals after all, by then the show had currently been stolen.