Kyle Walker’s goal against his hometown club secured a 1-0 Premier League victory for Manchester City over struggling Sheffield United.
Pep Guardiola, who had suffered his worst five-game start to a season after taking just eight points, saw his team’s domestic frustrations alleviated by Sheffield-born Walker’s 28th-minute strike at Bramall Lane.
City, buoyed by Tuesday’s 3-0 Champions League win in Marseille, were on top from the outset and only a fine display from Aaron Ramsdale limited the damage.
The result leaves Chris Wilder’s side still winless, while providing a confidence boost for a City outfit whose next top-flight clash is at home to champions Liverpool.
Ferran Torres’ glancing header from Joao Cancelo’s cross forced a fine early stop from Ramsdale, who also saw Aymeric Laporte steer a close-range effort just past his near post.
Rodri’s ferocious 25-yard strike was too hot to handle as the goalkeeper parried it over the crossbar in slick conditions amid heavy rainfall in Sheffield.
The Blades continued to rely on their last line of defence when Ramsdale thwarted Torres after the Spaniard slid in to connect with Raheem Sterling’s cross.
Walker, a product of the Bramall Lane academy, forced the breakthrough with a low, skidding shot that nestled in the keeper’s bottom-right corner.
The hosts, who have never beaten City in the Premier League, remained firmly on the back foot in the second half, living dangerously as Kevin De Bruyne’s attempt flashed narrowly wide.
Ramsdale was to the fore again soon after, tipping Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick wide, while substitute John Lundstram fired over at the other end in a rare opening for the home side.
What does it mean? A timely triumph for City
With top-flight games against Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and Everton still to come in 2020, City needed this Halloween treat of three points.
The trick now will be to discover the kind of consistency usually so common to them and manager Guardiola, who will still have concerns about his side lacking a clinical edge.
Without Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, the final scoreline failed to reflect City’s dominance, with the visitors having out-shot (16-4) and out-passed (709-369) their hosts with ease.
Blunt Blades all toil and no trouble
Heading into this match, United’s shot tally of 409 and on-target total of 131 were the lowest of all 17 ever-present Premier League sides since the start of last season.
On Saturday they managed to add just four shots, with one on target. A long season lies ahead for Wilder’s charges, with United having last gone seven games without a win at the start of a campaign back in 1991-92.
Ramsdale’s busy shift
It may have ended in defeat, but this was a performance of which Ramsdale can be proud.
Not since their opening 2-0 loss to Wolves have United been beaten by more than one goal, and in this instance that was firmly down to Ramsdale.
He made seven saves, in stark contrast to the solitary stop from Ederson at the other end.
After the midweek visit of Olympiacos in the Champions League, City tackle Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday in an early test of both sides’ title credentials. The Blades, firm bystanders in that particular race, travel to Chelsea the day before.