Manchester City scored their 100th goal of the season as they eased past managerless Huddersfield to move back to four points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.
David Wagner left the Terriers by mutual consent on Monday with the club bottom of the league, leaving coach Mark Hudson temporarily in charge.
City, who had netted 19 goals in their past three games, were not at their free-scoring best in the first half at the John Smith’s Stadium.But the defending champions went ahead in the 18th minute when Danilo’s long-range effort deflected in off the head of Christopher Schindler.
The visitors then struck twice in two minutes after the break to put the game to bed, with Leroy Sane creating the first and scoring the second.First, the Germany forward whipped in a cross for Raheem Sterling to dive and head in his 12th goal of the season.
Then Sergio Aguero cushioned a header for Sane to run on to and finish past Jonas Lossl.It was not a vintage display by Pep Guardiola’s side but they remain in title contention.
Borussia Dortmund coach Jan Siewert has been approached by Huddersfield for the vacant job, but he will face a mammoth task to keep them in the top flight if he takes over.This was their ninth defeat in 10 league games and the result leaves the Terriers bottom of the table and 10 points from safety.
City get the job done
With Liverpool edging a seven-goal thriller against Crystal Palace on Saturday, City’s mission in Yorkshire was simply to win and stay in touch.
Guardiola tweaked his line-up with Gabriel Jesus, who had scored seven goals in his past three games, dropped to the bench in favour of Aguero, who made his first start since the 2-1 win over Liverpool on 3 January.
City should have been awarded a penalty in the 13th minute when Terence Kongolo went into the back of Sterling.Danilo’s goal lifted a sloppy first half during which even Kevin de Bruyne, usually so assured in possession, was wasteful.
That was City’s 100th in all competitions this season – and they are the first side in Europe’s top five leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) to reach the landmark.
Bar the two-goal burst, the visitors were nowhere near their attacking best, even when the two Silvas – Bernardo and David – came on in the second half.Aguero barely threatened and only managed one shot, a half chance in the first half.
It was not the demolition many had predicted but ultimately it was mission accomplished for City, who have now scored 23 goals without reply and not conceded for 386 minutes.
“The way we played we didn’t deserve more than three goals,” said Guardiola. “We will improve in the future.
“What we have done so far has been incredible, in the league and the Carabao Cup. We have an incredible number of points. But this game can teach us and show what we have to do to improve.
“We’ve scored a lot of goals. So far, so good. One team has been better but we’re in January and there are many more games to play. We have to focus on what we have to do.
“If Liverpool win, we have to win. And if Liverpool lose, then we also have to win.”
Goals a priority for new manager
Wagner’s name was sung by the home fans and banners paid tribute to the man who brought Premier League football to the club.His temporary replacement Hudson was facing a daunting challenge in what may be his only match in charge, but he can feel some relief to have restricted the league’s top scorers to just three goals.
The 36-year-old former defender put his own stamp on the team and made six changes to the XI who started Wagner’s final game, a 0-0 draw with Cardiff.
But the line-up did not scream goals for a team who are the lowest scorers in the Premier League this season and have now only netted 18 in their past 37 matches in all competitions.
Former Monaco striker Adama Diakhaby started up top but he is yet to score this term, while on-loan Montpellier forward Isaac Mbenza is also goalless.City keeper Ederson made just two saves, one in each half.
Substitute Steve Mounie had three chances late on, first shooting just wide, then heading at Ederson, and finally scooping a close-range effort wide with the last play of the match.
So goals will be top of the new manager’s in-tray, as will be improving the side’s dreadful home record. They have the worst in the league with just one win at the John Smith’s this season.
“We stuck to the gameplan,” said Hudson. “If it wasn’t for the deflected goal I think we could have stayed in the longer. After that we were deflated, I could see that, but we fought to the end.
“It’s been a tough week, saying goodbye to the boss [Wagner] after three and a half years. What he’s created here has been nigh impossible.”