Soccer-Late Rodri winner fires Man City to top of table

Soccer Football - Premier League - Sheffield United v Manchester City - Bramall Lane, Sheffield, Britain - August 27, 2023 Manchester City's Rodri celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Phil Noble

SHEFFIELD, England (Reuters) -Manchester City moved to the top of the Premier League table with a 2-1 win at Sheffield United on Sunday after Rodri scored an 88th-minute winner to secure their third victory of the season.

With the scores level at 1-1 and the clock winding down, the ball came to Phil Foden in the United box and although the English midfielder had no control over it, Rodri stepped in to power a half-volley into the top corner.

City manager Pep Guardiola was not on the touchline at Bramall Lane having undergone back surgery.

But with assistant manager Juanma Lillo deputising for Guardiola, they got the job done despite seven minutes being added on as the home side searched for an equaliser.

Champions City are the only team to have a perfect start to the season as they moved on to nine points, two ahead of West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.

"Generally I thought we played really well today. It was a lot closer to what we wanted than the score line suggested," Lillo said.

City striker Erling Haaland missed a first-half penalty given for handball as his spot-kick hit the post.

But the Norwegian made amends just after the hour-mark when he opened the scoring with a close-range header from a cross by Jack Grealish.

"The penalty could have changed everything had that gone in. We saw the team were very stable and constantly looking towards goal," Lillo added.

"From the second half we really raised the rhythm, we were able to win the ball back a lot quicker. We were able to use those new spaces that were created from winning the ball back quicker... We could've scored more before the first went in."

But United equalised in the 85th minute when the hosts capitalised on a defensive error from Kyle Walker's botched backheel clearance and Jayden Bogle fired an angled shot through the crowd and beat City keeper Ederson.

Just as United looked to have gained their first point on their return to the top flight, Paul Heckingbottom's side were left heartbroken when Rodri fired home the winner, a goal created by Walker against his former club.

United are 17th in the standings, still without a point from three games, but they were applauded off the pitch for their effort against last season's treble winners.

"Listen, I'd prefer the point rather than any pats on the back. You've got to play the perfect game to beat City," Heckingbottom said with a wry smile.

"Even though City had a lot of the ball we felt like we had a degree of control of where that ball was... It just adds a bit more salt in the wounds."

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond and Toby Davis)

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