SHEFFIELD, England (AP) — Rodri came up with another big goal for Manchester City, scoring in the 88th minute to secure the champions a 2-1 win at Sheffield United on Sunday and a third straight victory to open its Premier League title defense.
After Erling Haaland responded to missing a first-half penalty by breaking the deadlock in the 63rd, it looked like City would be dropping points in a game it dominated when a mistake by captain Kyle Walker gifted Jayden Bogle an unlikely 85th-minute equalizer.
Walker made amends by winning the ball back on the right wing and crossing to Phil Foden, whose miscontrol went straight to Rodri and the midfielder made no mistake with a fierce left-foot shot into the top corner.
Rodri was the scorer of City's winner in the Champions League final last season and has already scored twice this campaign, having netted at Burnley in the opening round.
City is the only team with a maximum of nine points so far.
City, and specifically Haaland, endured a frustrating afternoon at Bramall Lane until the Norway striker's opener, with a physical Sheffield United team defending deep and ruggedly.
A 36th-minute penalty — awarded for a handball against John Egan that blocked Julian Alvarez’s cut-back — was City’s first real chance and Haaland wasted it by dragging it against the post, with goalkeeper Wes Foderingham diving the other way.
The game continued to be one-sided in the second half, with Haaland shooting wide from Walker’s cross and then seeing a deft chip clawed away by Foderingham in the 61st.
City manager Pep Guardiola — watching the match in Barcelona as he recovers from back surgery — might have been feeling uncomfortable at that stage but Haaland delivered in the end like he usually does.
Jack Grealish stood up a cross from the left and Haaland nodded in at the back post, breathing a huge and ostentatious sigh of relief after doing so.
A City fan got onto the field and jumped on the back of Haaland after the goal, the striker's third already this campaign after 36 in the league last season. Haaland laughed it off and the supporter was escorted away.
Walker, a former Sheffield United player, made a silly error for the equalizer by deciding to backheel the ball into play in his own area. He got it all wrong as the hosts regained possession and the ball found its way to Bogle, who drove a low finish across goalkeeper Ederson Moraes.
Rodri came to the rescue, though, and City has now beaten Burnley, Newcastle and Sheffield United so far to be assured of a two-point lead after three games.
Juanma Lillo took charge of City in the absence of Guardiola.
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The Associated Press