The Manchester City’s captain fantastic Vincent Kompany produced one of the Premier League goals of the season to break down resilient Leicester City and keep his side’s title hopes on track.
At a nervy Etihad, City huffed and puffed without success, and with 20 minutes to play looked to be handing the Premier League title initiative to Liverpool with just one game left to play.
However, Kompany stepped up to fire a postage-stamp strike home from 25-yards to earn a 1-0 victory that leaves City needing three points at Brighton on the final day of the season to retain their title.
Pep Guardiola made just one change to the side that had started the narrow win at Burnley, with 18-year-old Phil Foden replacing Leroy Sane, restoring Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva to their more familiar roles on the left and right of the front three respectively.
Leicester, meanwhile, were unchanged from the line-up that had thumped Arsenal last weekend, with Jamie Vardy looking to enhance his record of having scored more goals against Guardiola’s City than any other player.
Leicester started well, determined not to abandon the kind of slick football that has quickly become the hallmark of Brendan Rodgers’ brief reign, and but for a brilliant block from Vincent Kompany might have taken the lead through the ever-lively Ricardo Pereira after he dummied inside off the right flank.
At the other end, Foden fired straight at Schmeichel on the swivel, before the Danish ‘keeper did brilliantly to claw Sergio Aguero’s glancing header away after it had come down off the underside of the bar.
That chance aside, though, the Argentine striker had been a peripheral figure.
As half-time approached without a goal, the anxiety around the Etihad was clear for all to hear, with the home crowd fuming at Schmeichel’s time wasting, and twice screaming for fouls after obviously clean tackles on Sterling.
The second half began with one-way traffic, as Sterling nodded over the bar from a looping David Silva knock back, before dragging wide on his left foot.
With Leicester having far less joy in retaining possession and creating chances of their own than they had in the first half, Guardiola went for the kill, withdrawing Foden for Sane and pushing Sterling up alongside Aguero in a 4-2-4 formation.
As it had in the Manchester derby win last month, Sane’s introduction instantly added a zip to City’s play, but a rampaging run from Harry Maguire to tee-up James Maddison’s long range effort was a reminder of Leicester’s threat on the break.
But then came Kompany, striding up from the halfway line position that he had occupied as a spectator for much of the second half, to score the goal that will surely now go down as the defining moment of this most remarkable title race, and an instant Premier League classic.
City still needed some wasteful finishing from one of their former players, substitute Kelechi Iheanacho, who slotted wide when gloriously placed to add yet another late twist to this dramatic season.