Phil Foden marked his return to the Manchester City fold with the winning goal as Pep Guardiola's side stretched their lead at the top of the Premier League table to eight points with a gritty victory at Brentford.
The England international, dropped for the recent victories over Newcastle and Leicester, broke the deadlock in the 16th-minute, side-footing home from Kevin De Bruyne's sublime cross.
Just 53 seconds earlier, however, Brentford could have been ahead when Yoane Wissa's deflected shot was destined for the net only for Joao Cancelo's crucial headed intervention on the line.
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After the restart, De Bruyne and Foden combined once again only this time the latter glanced another delightful delivery from the former agonisingly wide of the post.
Foden found the net for a second time moments later, heading in from Gabriel Jesus' cross, but this time the offside flag was raised, before De Bruyne crashed a shot off the woodwork.
Aymeric Laporte had a late goal ruled out by VAR for a marginal offside call but in the end it mattered little. It was far from vintage City but they held on comfortably to claim maximum points.
This victory, coupled with Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Brighton, means City have a healthy lead at the top of the table ahead of their visit to Arsenal on New Year's Day. Brentford remain 14th.

TALKING POINT - Manchester City stretch lead at the top

At one stage it looked like we had an enthralling three-horse title race on our hands - but things can quickly change in football. While Chelsea and Liverpool have been faltering of late, City have been in red-hot form, stringing together 10 straight league victories to build an almost unassailable eight-point lead at the summit.
As it stands, Guardiola's side are on course to hit 90+ points while Liverpool and Chelsea are barely reaching 80. There are still plenty of games remaining for things to change but, in this form, it's becoming incredibly difficult to imagine anything other than City landing their fourth title under Pep.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Registered one assist but on another night could have had another two to his name, such was the quality of his deliveries. After a stop-start period, he has now started four consecutive games and is showing signs of returning to his brilliant best.


Brentford: Fernandez 6, Thompson 8, Pinnock 7, Sorensen 6, Jansson 6, Baptiste 6, Wissa 7, Jensen 7, Onyeka 6, Roerslev 6, Toney 7.. subs: Canos 5, Ghoddos N/A, Bidstrup N/A.
Man City: Ederson 6, Ake 7, Cancelo 6, Laporte 6, Dias 6, Fernandinho 6, Silva 6, De Bruyne 8*, Grealish 6, Jesus 6, Foden 8.
Minute-by-minute commentary


15' - BRENTFORD GO CLOSE - OFF THE LINE! My goodness, Brentford go agonisingly close to scoring the opener! Wissa can't believe how much space he has and connects well with a low volley. It takes a deflection and is destined for the bottom corner until Cancelo heads off the line!
16' - GOAL! Brentford 0-1 Manchester City (Phil Foden): 53 seconds after clearing the ball off their line, Man City take the lead! De Bruyne's gorgeous whipped cross is slotted home by Foden. VAR has a check for offside but it's going to stand!
50' - GOAL DISALLOWED! Foden has the ball in the back of the net for the second time this evening, this time heading in from Jesus' cross but he's in an offside position.
66' - OFF THE POST! De Bruyne's powerful shot has Fernandez rooted to the spot and the Brentford goalkeeper can only watch on as the ball crashes off the post.
87' - GOAL RULED OUT! Laporte thinks he has doubled City's advantage with a textbook header from De Bruyne's free-kick delivery - but his celebrations are cut short. VAR rules he is marginally offside.


Of the 34 players to have scored at least five Premier League goals this season, none have scored a higher share away from home than Man City's Phil Foden (80% - 4/5).
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