Football | Kompany produces decisive moment in another title race

David Smith

The Leicester players backed off when Aymeric Laporte rolled the ball to Vincent Kompany midway inside the Foxes’ half.

Hamza Choudhury decided to track Raheem Sterling’s run rather than close down the City captain.

On paper, it was the correct decision.

Kompany hadn’t scored in any of his previous 36 Premier League shots from outside the box, and hadn’t even hit the target with an effort from distance in over five years.

The visitors had frustrated the champions for the previous 70 minutes, and there was an infectious nervousness swirling around the Etihad.

Undeterred by Sergio Aguero’s pleas not to shoot, Kompany bounded forward, taking a few touches to set himself.

The Belgian defender unleashed a ferocious strike from 30 yards which swerved into the top corner past Kasper Schmeichel, sending the home fans into raptures.

Martin Tyler could only utter a guttural growl, before his co-commentator Gary Neville perfectly summed up the momentous moment with one question;

“Where do you want your statue, Vincent Kompany?”

Kompany’s wonder strike proved to be the only goal of the game, with substitute Kelechi Iheanacho squandering a glorious chance for Brendan Rodgers’ visitors in the dying minutes.

The final whistle heralded tears from Kompany and emotional celebrations from the City players on the pitch.

“I told you, Vinny, don’t shoot!” an elated Aguero laughed.

It was an incredible goal from a wonderful player, and one worthy of winning any Premier League title. 

“I was thinking pass the ball, pass the ball,” Pep admitted afterwards. “I wasn’t confident.”

One of the great Premier League moments, from one of the league’s great defenders.

Pep Guardiola’s team are now just one win away from becoming the first Premier League team in a decade to retain the title.

A home win against Brighton on the final day would see them win the league with 98 points, finishing one place and one point above title rivals Liverpool, and just two points short of their record-breaking tally last season.

“I was here when the Aguero goal went in, and for these fans here it can never get better than that – but this has run it very close,” Neville observed afterwards.

In an almost flawless title race, this felt like a definitive moment.

Kompany isn’t the mainstay he once was in this City team, and last night’s win over Leicester may prove to be his penultimate game for the club, but as he has so often done in his 11-year stint at the club, Kompany seized the game by the scruff of the neck and helped City to get over the line.

The 33-year-old’s status as the club’s best ever defender is assured, and there’s also an argument to be made for him being the club’s greatest ever player.

He may seem an unlikely hero in this enthralling title race, but he has often produced decisive moments in previous title races.

When City needed to beat West Ham on the final day of the 2013/14 season with Liverpool having breathing down their necks, it was Kompany who headed the Manchester club into the lead.

City eventually won 2-0, coming out on top of another memorable title race.

Sergio Aguero achieved immortal status for his last gasp goal in the final seconds of the final 2011/12 season against QPR – arguably the Premier League’s greatest moment – but it was Kompany who made it possible.

The towering centre half headed the only goal of the game in a crucial Manchester derby weeks earlier to wrench the title race back in City’s favour.

That header was the definitive moment which led to City’s eventual comeback against QPR on the last day of the season, overturning a 2-1 deficit to win 3-2 and claim the title on goal difference in the process.

He is a player with a big personality; a born winner who lifts those around him.

It seems strange that he could be allowed to depart as a free agent in the summer given the leadership qualities he brings and the standards he sets.

Kompany’s immediate future at Man City is in doubt, but his legacy is crystal clear.