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PREMIER LEAGUE

Mahrez and De Bruyne send City 12 points clear

A first half penalty converted by Mahrez and a De Bruyne strike was enough for City to beat Brentford and extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Update:
Mahrez and De Bruyne send City 12 points clear
PAUL ELLISAFP

Manchester City stretched their lead at the top of the Premier League standings to 12 points after a comfortable 2-0 win over Brentford on Wednesday night.

Brentford did a good job of keeping City at bay in the first half, and almost got to the interval without being breached, but conceded a soft penalty in the 40th minute, which Riyad Mahrez converted to give the champions the lead. City remained untroubled after the break and put the game to bed in the 68th minute, with Kevin De Bruyne firing home after a poor clearance from Brentford goalkeeper David Raya.

The rest of the match was a stroll for City as they stretched their unbeaten run to 14 league games, pulling further clear of second-placed Liverpool, who face Leicester City on Thursday having played two games fewer than the champions. Brentford's struggles continued after a fifth successive league defeat pulled them closer to the relegation zone. They sit 14th, six points above Norwich City in 18th, having played one game more.

Since losing 2-0 to Crystal Palace in October, City had won their last six Premier League home games by an aggregate score of 20-4 ahead of Brentford's visit – just the opponent Thomas Frank's out-of-form side did not want to be facing. But other than a João Cancelo effort that was scooped over the top and Aymeric Laporte's side-footed shot bobbed wide, Brentford looked comfortable in their quest to blunt the relentless league leaders.

Penalty awarded

Danish defender Mads Roerslev's needless tackle on Raheem Sterling as he looked to get to the byline, however, undid the visitors' good work, with Mahrez stepping up, despite having missed from the spot at the Africa Cup of Nations last month, and firing home. Mahrez has now scored in seven consecutive club matches in all competitions - only the third player to do so under Pep Guardiola during the Spaniard's top-flight managerial career, after Lionel Messi at Barcelona (twice) and Sergio Agüero at City.

City did not need to hit top gear in the second half, such was their control. They scored a second without much effort, as Raya passed the ball straight to Sterling, whose shot was blocked into the path of De Bruyne, with the Belgian slotting his seventh league goal of the season into the empty net. Spanish midfielder Rodri almost made it three late on, but Raya kept his scuffed strike out, with City goalkeeper Ederson seeing out the 100th clean sheet in the Premier League under Guardiola with ease down the other end.

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