If Brendan Rodgers has ambitions to one day succeed Pep Guardiola at Manchester City one day, he may need to be luckier with his substitutions.
There is no doubt Rodgers is one of the most talented coaches of his generation and on Saturday his Leicester side gave the champions another thorough examination having already beaten them in the Community Shield at Wembley last season.
But the points were settled following a change in personnel by The Foxes boss after an hour when he took off the game’s best player at that time Jannik Vestergaard to give Jonny Evans his first action of the season following a foot injury.
Champions Manchester City picked up a crucial win at Leicester City to remain in touch with the top of the Premier League
Bernardo Silva netted the only goal of the game at the King Power, having tucked in at the near post after a rebound fell to him
Silva wheeled away behind the goal in celebration, with City now one point behind current leaders, rivals Manchester United
Within 30 seconds of Evans’ arrival, the visitors had conjured up a great chance amidst miscommunication in the Leicester defence. 30 seconds after that, the winner had been scored.
Jack Grealish had time on the left-hand side to pick out Joao Cancelo and his shot cannoned off Caglar Soyuncu into the path of Bernardo Silva who gleefully shot home.
In mitigation, Vestergaard himself hadn’t featured since the opening day because of knee problems. But the Danish international was heroic in his first Premier League start since a summer move from Southampton, making three massive blocks any Viking would have been proud of.
Leicester (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel 8; Castagne 6, Soyuncu 5.5, Vestergaard 8 (Evans 61 6), Bertrand 6; Ndidi 6.5, Tielemans 6.5; Albrighton 7, Maddison 6 (Iheanacho 6.5), Barnes 7 (Lookman 73 5.5); Vardy 6
Subs not used: Ward, Amartey, Pereira, Dewsbury-Hall, Daka, Soumare
Manager: Brendan Rodgers
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson 6; Walker 8, Dias 7, Laporte 6, Cancelo 7; Gundogan 6.5, Rodri 6, Bernardo 8.5; Jesus 6 (Fernandinho 84), Torres 6.5 (Sterling 64 6), Grealish 7
Subs not used: Stones, Ake, Zinchenko, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Carson, Foden
Goals: Silva 62
Booked: Rodri, Laporte
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Referee: Paul Tierney 6.5
City toasted the goal in front of their own supporters, having broken down a stubborn Leicester backline to take three points
Leicester pushed forward late on in search of an equaliser, but goalkeeper Ederson had rushed out to deny Ademola Lookman
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but with Leicester defending so well at that stage of the game, surely the centre-half could have lasted another five minutes.
‘I was delighted with Jannik. He has that great presence in the box and calmness on the ball. The plan was to get him to 60, 65 minutes and when he started to get fatigued, bring in Jonny,’ explained Rodgers.
Despite only one goal being scored, it was a cracking game between two of the Premier League’s most pleasing teams.
Manchester City had lost their previous four games away from The Etihad including the Champions League final, three without scoring, so there would have been relief when the excellent Bernardo snaffled his opportunity from close range.
Ederson narrowed the angle and Lookman could only fire straight at the stopper, missing the chance to draw the hosts level
Jamie Vardy and Leicester briefly believed they had taken the lead, but the striker’s finish was ruled out by the linesman’s flag
The home crowd were left frustrated and crestfallen after the decision, and City went on to then score just minutes later
In truth they could have won by more with Kasper Schmeichel making six excellent stops against the club where he began his career.
But Leicester, kings of the counter-attack, would argue they could have snatched a point. Harvey Barnes hit the crossbar with a header and accidentally collided with Ederson as he raced to connect with Jamie Vardy’s cross.
Vardy, who has scored more goals against Pep Guardiola than any other player, also had a goal ruled out for a fractional but correct offside.
‘It was an excellent, excellent performance,’ enthused Guardiola about his winners. ‘Leicester is not the easiest fixture after an international break and you always doubt, but the mentality was brilliant.
Jack Grealish started once again for City and had proved a thorn in Leicester’s side with another eye-catching performance
Aymeric Laporte was shown a yellow card for City in the first half, but the visitors defended resolutely to see out the result
‘We played really well, created a lot and conceded few. The last three games (all with clean sheets) have been incredibly good.’
On his matchwinner who was rumoured to be leaving the club in the summer, Guardiola added: ‘Bernardo’s connection with Jack Grealish and Joao Cancelo was brilliant.
‘We suffered sometimes because Leicester defend deep and use the counter-attack but I’m always sure Bernardo is going to have a good season with his incredible running and work ethic.
‘We are happy he is still here and in the future we will see what happens.’
Jannik Vestergaard nodded over the crossbar with Leicester looking to dominate their opponents in the air on set pieces
Ederson was called into action to deny Leicester a goal, with Kyle Walker also desperately sliding in in a penalty area scramble
Keeper Ederson briefly required treatment after taking a hefty blow, but was able to play on and went on to keep a clean sheet
Guardiola found out on the morning of the game he was able to pick Ederson and Gabriel Jesus after a late climbdown by the Brazilian FA. So he picked an unchanged team and saw them begin as brightly as their crisp white shirts.
In the opening five minutes, the visitors forced three corners in five minutes, Gabriel Jesus was denied by Schmeichel and from the rebound Vestergaard managed to twice block from Bernardo.
The Leicester counter also threatened to pay dividends. Vardy charged and crossed towards Barnes who was beaten by a brilliant interception from Kyle Walker and careered into the onrushing Ederson.
After treatment, the goalkeeper continued with cotton stuffed into his mouth to stem the blood.
James Maddison tried to twist beyond the attentions of Ilkay Gundogan in midfield, but City marshalled the hosts expertly
Silva had gone down inside the Leicester penalty area during the clash under the attentions of winger Marc Albrighton (right)
The champions bossed the remainder of the first half with Bernardo seizing on a mistake by Youri Tielemans to force Schmeichel into tipping around the post. Grealish, growing in confidence, attempted a Cantona-style chip that dropped just the wrong side of the post.
Ferran Torres turned and shot at Schmeichel and was then denied by a last-ditch block by Vestergaard that brought Rodgers to the edge of his technical area to applaud. Schmeichel ended the half as he started it, a stop from Jesus, this time with his knees.
Leicester were more positive in the second half. Vardy’s turn of pace and cross saw Barnes beat Ederson with his header only for the ball to hit the top of the bar and bounce to safety.
When Vardy then latched onto Wilfried Ndidi’s pass and round the goalkeeper to score, his knee was adjudged to have been offside.
Pep Guardiola dropped to his haunches during the clash with City initially struggling to find the opener before Silva struck
Vestergaard was given a standing ovation as he left the field but had barely sat down before his team-mates had conceded.
Guardiola immediately sent on Raheem Sterling to try and press home the advantage with Schmeichel making further saves from Walker and Grealish.
But it was Leicester who nearly snatched a late equaliser.
Rodgers introduced Kelechi Iheanacho against his former club and debutant Ademola Lookman, signed from Leipzig on deadline day.
Jesus, Ferran Torres and Gundogan spoke during the game, and City eventually carved out the chance for Silva to sweep in
The pair combined with Lookman racing clear only for the winger to be confronted with Ederson racing out to meet him. He duly shot the ball into the goalkeeper’s chest.
‘I felt we deserved something from the game,’ said Rodgers. ‘We showed resilience not to concede in the first half and then stay in the game despite looking for Jamie too much early on.
‘We were right in there with a world-class side but they got that little bit of luck with the goal.’