Phil Foden’s first-half strike was enough as Manchester City beat Brentford 1-0 to extend their winning Premier League run to 10 matches and move eight points clear at the top.
The Citizens had scored 17 goals in their previous three league games but were made to work hard at the Brentford Community Stadium in their final game of 2021.
Kevin De Bruyne played in a teasing delivery for Foden to drill in the game’s only goal after 16 minutes, with that match-winning moment arriving 56 seconds after Yoane Wissa had a header cleared off the line at the other end.
City had a couple of goals disallowed in the second half but moved further clear at the summit following Liverpool’s loss to Leicester City on Tuesday and Chelsea’s home draw with Brighton and Hove Albion in Wednesday’s other fixture.
Brentford, without a number of key players due to coronavirus, suspension and injuries, forced Ederson into a couple of saves and had a looping Wissa header blocked on the line by Joao Cancelo in a lively start.
Wissa’s chance served as a wake-up call for City, though, and they were in front less than a minute later thanks to Foden’s side-foot finish from a pinpoint De Bruyne cross, the goal allowed to stand following a VAR check for a possible offside.
Foden did not time his run to such perfection when he tucked home in early in the second half, however, with a close-range finish ruled out for offside.
De Bruyne pinged the woodwork with a crisp, low effort, though City thought they had put the result beyond all doubt when Aymeric Laporte headed in late on.
VAR cut their celebrations short, but unlike their title rivals, City were not made to lament any fine margins.