LONDON • Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany said he ignored calls “not to shoot” from teammates as he fired in from long range to earn his side a crucial 1-0 Premier League win over Leicester City on Monday.
With Liverpool having reclaimed the top spot in the standings after their 3-2 win at Newcastle United last Saturday, City looked nervy as they reached the hour mark at the Etihad without scoring a goal.
The Belgium defender then came to the rescue with a stunning strike into the top corner in the 70th minute to score his first goal of the season and his first-ever from outside the box in the Premier League, to win the match for City.
After the victory, which put City on 95 points and one ahead of Liverpool after the penultimate match of the season, cameras caught striker Sergio Aguero jokingly telling his skipper: “I tell you no shoot! No! No!”
Kompany was undeterred.
“I haven’t scored this season, but I always feel in big moments I can do something,” he said.
“Headers, anything. There was a little bit of frustration today. I could hear people saying, ‘Don’t shoot’. It annoyed me. I’ve not come this far in my career to be told when I can and can’t shoot.
“I’ve had 15 years of top-level midfielders telling me not to shoot, but I always told them one day I am going to have a shot from outside the box and I’m going to score a goal.”
Forward Raheem Sterling was one of those who had his doubts.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola embracing his captain Kompany after the match. PHOTO: DPA
I’ve had 15 years of top-level midfielders telling me not to shoot, but I always told them one day I am going to have a shot from outside the box and I’m going to score a goal.
VINCENT KOMPANY, Manchester City captain, on proving his doubters wrong about his ability to score from outside the box.
“My face screaming ‘Noooo Vinny why u do this’ so hard. what a hit boi!!! Captain Incredible,” he wrote on Twitter.
City manager Pep Guardiola also praised Kompany for his wonder goal, saying: “Sometimes, you need a goal like Vinnie’s today.”
It was certainly a goal worthy of settling the Premier League title race this season. What happened in the 70th minute will long be remembered by City fans, and may haunt Liverpool for some time to come.
Leicester had been defending so strongly, with Wilfred Ndidi immense in shielding his back four, yet City never betrayed any nerves. They kept pouring forward, with the defenders joining the attack, too.
When Aymeric Laporte laid the ball off towards his central-defensive partner 30m out, Kompany took a touch and decided to push on, encouraged by Leicester’s momentary decision to back off.
The Belgian took another touch and then connected powerfully with a strike that burned its way through the chilly Manchester air, flying in high past the diving goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
City had known Leicester would be organised and determined. Brendan Rodgers’ side played deep, with even the lone striker Jamie Vardy dropping back into Leicester’s defensive third at times.
The look of sheer joy on Bernardo Silva’s face as he ran towards Kompany summed up City’s gritty win.
Guardiola was also asked about the significance of Kompany being on the pitch at the end with his children and if it signalled the last home game of an 11-year City career.
“Kompany has been here for more than 10 years and he has helped with an incredible generation of players,” the Spaniard said.
“With other players like (Joe) Hart and (Pablo) Zabaleta, they created this club. This club is what it is because of people like Vincent.
“We spoke with him and his agent. We are going to take a beer together (at the end of the season) and decide what is best.”
City have one hand on the Premier League trophy but Guardiola hit back at Liverpool, claiming that the Reds are playing “without pressure”.
Ahead of Sunday’s final-day fixture at Brighton, he suggested that the pressure has been weighing heavier on the shoulders of his players despite both teams going neck and neck in the title race.
“Liverpool play without pressure because they know it is not in their hands. It is easy,” he said. “We have the pressure.”
THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS