When Manchester City needed him most captain marvel Vincent Kompany stood so tall to underline Pep Guardiola’s trust in thrilling title race
- Captain Vincent Kompany has been here before with Manchester City
- In April 2012 his header gave them victory over Manchester United
- Few would have believed that seven years on he would produce this
One by one they came up to hug Vincent Kompany and thank him for pulling Manchester City’s title challenge out of the fire.
Then the City players stood back and let their captain lead them on a lap of honour. Has it ever been more deserved?
Kompany walked ahead with that confident strut and wrapped his arms around the shoulders of proud daughter Sienna, eight. Then the tears began to flow.
Vincent Kompany finds the back of the net with a spectacular strike against Leicester
Kompany celebrates with Bernardo Silva after his winner for Manchester City at home
His has been a fairy tale City career. The man signed before the Abu Dhabi takeover in 2008, albeit by a matter of days, who ended up captaining the club to three Premier League titles.
If a fourth is to follow at Brighton on Sunday afternoon, they will look back at the moment Kompany broke Liverpool’s hearts and talk about it in the same breath as Sergio Aguero’s title clincher against QPR in 2012.
Aguero was only saying what everyone else was thinking when the Belgian strode forward with the ball and took aim after 70 minutes.
City’s title challenge was wobbling and the anxiety inside the Etihad was palpable. Kompany had decided to take matters into his own hands.
Kompany slides to his knees by the corner flag as the City fans in the crowd go wild
‘Don’t shoot, Vinnie, don’t shoot,’ shouted the Argentine. Kompany didn’t listen. His shot, swerving and gathering pace in mid-air, screamed into the Kasper Schmeichel’s net and the City fans screamed with it.
He was just about the last person on the pitch they expected to try his luck from that distance. After all, Kompany had never scored from outside the box before. What a moment to score his first goal of the season, and City’s 100th at home this season.
As disbelief turned to delirium, the Belgian careered towards the corner flag and threw himself to the turf before he was engulfed by teammates.
It was reminiscent of his wild celebration after heading the winner in the Manchester derby here seven years ago on another must-win Monday night.
The City club captain shares the moment with his team-mates after the crucial goal
When City played West Ham on the last day of the 2014 season needing a victory to become champions, Kompany came up with another huge goal.
He only scored two last season but they came in the League Cup Final against Arsenal and the Manchester derby.
‘I didn’t score this season but for me I always feel in big moments I’m going to do something,’ he said afterwards.
‘Things sometimes are meant to happen. I’ve had other seasons when I didn’t score too much and I just happened to score at the right time.’
In theory, this could be Kompany’s last game at the Etihad aside from his testimonial. The fact that game is scheduled for September indicates that he will accept the club’s offer of a new contract.
Kompany was in tears after the game as City returned to the top of the Premier League
For now, it remains unsigned. Kompany may have overcome the succession of muscle injuries that threatened his career, but he wants to be sure that he will play enough first-team football to commit to a 12th season here.
This was third Premier League start in a row but only his 12th of the season in total. One thing is for sure, Kompany has no intention of retiring at the age of 33.
‘Absolutely not. I’m going to play football,’ he said. ‘I’m going to do exactly what I’ve done today for as long as I can.
‘I play every game as if it’s the last game of my career. It takes a lot of hard work. Every game is potentially the last one. I don’t know at this point.’
The Belgian centre-back embraced manager Pep Guardiola on the pitch after the game
Kompany’s goal was the ultimate justification for Guardiola’s decision to pick him ahead of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, even though Jamie Vardy’s pace must have been a concern.
He produced a stunning block to deny Ricardo Pereira early on and was still standing strong deep into injury-time to clear Pereira’s booming free kick into the City box.
The only blot was a yellow card for a late challenge on James Maddison. Just as he did in the Old Trafford derby two weeks ago, however, Kompany didn’t allow it to affect his game.
They already know that here. He is their captain and hero. Even he wanted to leave, it’s unlikely they would let him.
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