A ninth-minute goal from Brazilian Gabriel Jesus gave Manchester City a 1-0 win over bottom club Sheffield United on Saturday as Pep Guardiola’s side extended their lead at the top of the table to four points.
City have 44 points from 20 games with Manchester United, who are at Arsenal later on Saturday, on 40 points from the same number of games.
City have now won 12 straight games in all competitions — a club record run of victories.
Jesus slotted home from close range after Ferran Torres took advantage of poor defending to wriggle free of two players and pick out his unmarked team mate.
Sheffield United had arrived at the Etihad on the back off their shock 2-1 win at Old Trafford against Manchester United and delivered another solid and organised display.
City had over 75% possession but struggled to create many real openings, although Sheffield keeper Aaron Ramsdale did well in the 72nd minute to keep out a fine drive from Oleksandr Zinchenko and Aymeric Laporte’s effort a minute later.
The Yorkshire side, still rooted to the foot of the table on eight points, went close to an equaliser with a late John Fleck drive that flashed past the post.
Ramsdale did well again to keep out a Jesus effort in stoppage time as City had to settle for a single goal victory — Pep Guardiola’s 500th victory as a manager.
“It was so difficult. We knew it would be,” said the Spaniard.
“It was amazing after this run of 12 wins in a row, still the players run and fight like animals. We conceded one chance at the end. Sheffield United are a difficult opponent. Every time we play them we struggle,” added Guardiola who was full of praise for his opponents.
“We struggle because they are a very good side. They are alive, you can feel it. They shout, they talk, they stick together until the end” he said.
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder was pleased with his team’s discipline but disappointed with the way they conceded.
“We’ve not been cut open by an unbelievable piece of brilliance. The players were up against a team who can produce at any time, not just against us but anyone in the division and in Europe.
“Our aim was to stay in the game and open up a bit late on. I don’t want a pat on the back. If people think we can open up from the off, you know what will happen,” he said.
Wilder is certainly not in the mood to throw in the towel despite his team being 10 points behind 17th-placed Brighton & Hove Albion.
“We’re alive and have a desire to compete. You’ve seen a team that’s fighting for their lives and can cause teams problems,” he said.