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Man City moves 12 points clear with 2-0 win over Brentford

February 9, 2022 GMT
Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez, center, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Brentford at the City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester, England, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez, center, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Brentford at the City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester, England, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez, center, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Brentford at the City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester, England, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
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Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez, center, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Brentford at the City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester, England, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
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Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez, center, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Brentford at the City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester, England, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Riyad Mahrez scored for the seventh straight game for Manchester City in its 2-0 win over Brentford on Wednesday that moved the Premier League champions into a 12-point lead.

Kevin De Bruyne also netted for the fourth home game in succession in the league as City extended its unbeaten run to 14 matches in a title defense that is on course to finish in a sixth championship in 11 seasons.

Second-place Liverpool does, though, have two games in hand on City and plays at home to Leicester on Thursday.

City wasn’t at its fluent best up against a Brentford team that defended deep and in numbers at Etihad Stadium.

“We had to be patient, make no mistakes,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.

However, after a tight opening half-hour, City started to create a flow of chances and eventually went ahead after Raheem Sterling was tripped by Mads Roerslev near the byline.

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Mahrez, back on domestic duty after playing for Algeria at the African Cup of Nations, converted the penalty in the 40th minute to continue his stunning run of scoring for his club.

Starting against Leipzig in the Champions League on Dec. 7, the right winger has scored in every game he has played for City, with four penalties included in a haul of eight goals. With City having no out-and-out striker this season, Mahrez is proving to be the team’s most reliable source of goals.

“Riyad is now a guarantee,” City manager Pep Guardiola said. “He is so clever. He can shoot on both sides and effectively to the corners.”

City goalkeeper Ederson had to be alert to keep out a couple of shots on Brentford counterattacks but De Bruyne killed the game off with the second goal, which stemmed from a mistake by Brentford keeper David Raya.

His pass out from his area went straight to Sterling, whose shot was saved by the sprawling Raya. The ball came out to De Bruyne, who stroked it low into an unguarded net in the 69th.

All of the Belgian’s recent goals have come at the Etihad, including a winner against Chelsea last month.

City has 14 games left to play in its title defense that has a growing air of inevitability about it.

“We are not the best team in the world — the best team is Chelsea, who won the Champions League, or River Plate, who won in South America,” Guardiola said.

“The important thing is we won the game and in three days we go to Norwich and have to win again. This type of thing about who is the best, I don’t care. Just be happy and try to play better every day.”

The loss was Brentford’s fifth in succession in the Premier League and the team is six points above the relegation zone. However, manager Thomas Frank is backing his players to reverse the slump.

“It is very important we look at the work ethic and the attitude — a top attitude — and performances have been really good,” he said.

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“We have to keep the performance and the mentality and stay positive, then we will be fine.”

Star striker Ivan Toney missed the game with a calf injury but could return for Saturday’s match against Crystal Palace.

“I hope so, fingers crossed,” said Frank. “We will assess him every day.”

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