Manchester City finished the most successful year in the club’s history on a winning note after breezing to a 2-0 routine victory over Sheffield United at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
The treble winners added the Club World Cup to their 2023 trophy cabinet after beating Copa Libertadores winners Fluminense last week. And now they are back in the hunt to challenge for their sixth league title under Guardiola, after securing back-to-back wins in the Premier League for the first time since November.
City dominated from the first minute and enjoyed total control of the ball, racking up 85 percent possession in the opening exchanges without troubling Wes Foderingham in the Blades’ goal.
Still without Erling Haaland,City were lacking bite in attack as Jack Grealish and Julian Alvarez struggled to breach the visitors’ stubborn backline.
That was until Rodri stepped up and took matters into his own hands to grab his fourth goal of the domestic campaign. Running from deep, the Spain international latched onto a lay-off from Phil Foden and neatly chipped the ball over the sliding challenge from a United player.
Rodri shows his class
With only a few options ahead of him, Rodri was invited to continue running and he decided to go for goal, carefully passing his low effort into the bottom corner to hand City a well-deserved lead on 14 minutes.
Chris Wilder’s men posed a threat on the counter attack and goal-line technology might well have been used if Ederson had not been alert to a deep cross from Jayden Bogle, but the Brazilian showed a safe pair of hands and kept it out.
The champions continued to pepper their opponents’ goal and got their just reward on the hour mark. Substitute Oscar Bobb combined with Foden and after the playmaker made his way into the box, he unselfishly set up Alvarez, who tapped home from close range to double their lead.
With four straight wins in all competitions, City have shown they can still win without Haaland’s goals, although they will be much better off when the Norwegian talisman finally returns to full fitness.
But once again, it was the main man Rodri who proved he is the one irreplaceable component in Guardiola’s winning machine, producing an inspirational display to make it 49 games without defeat for the ex-Atletico man in a sky blue shirt.