A sluggish Manchester City eked their way past bottom side Sheffield United thanks to an early goal from Gabriel Jesus, in a game remarkable only for its lack of remarkableness.
When City took the lead inside eight minutes, however, the apathy that followed did not seem particularly likely.
A Jayden Bogle misjudgement allowed Ferran Torres into the box, but the Spaniard lost his feet as he held the wingback away. There really did not seem to be any danger.
That was the case until Bogle stepped off to allow Torres to get up, then turn, then jink between him and the covering centre back and pass to Jesus six yards out, completely unmarked. He literally could not miss. Good play from Torres, but appalling from Sheffield United’s defence.
City’s only other attempt of note came as Ethan Ampadu attempted a powerful header back to Aaron Ramsdale, despite Bernardo Silva being between the two of them. If the Portuguese had managed more than a slight flick on the ball, Ramsdale would have had no chance to recover the situation.
Half time: Manchester City 1-0 Sheffield United
The second half could be summarised very succinctly. Manchester City, possession, no shots. Literally, nothing.
Five minutes into the half, a dangerous cross from Oleksandr Zinchenko did find the head of Torres to nod back across goal, but the ball evaded Jesus in the middle and the half chance was gone.
One of the few occasions of an actual shot came after quick passing saw Phil Foden tee up Zinchenko to strike from 25 yards, with the Ukrainian’s attempt well struck towards the far corner but always comfortable for Ramsdale.
With five minutes to play, John Fleck almost scored a spectacular equaliser with the Blades’ first real attempt, but his 30 yard half volley from a Billy Sharp knock-down flew inches wide of the post with Ederson well beaten.
City should have wrapped the game up in injury time, as the pressing visitors were counter attacked brilliantly thanks to good play from Fernandinho. Foden ran at an exposed defence before slipping the ball left for Jesus, but he telegraphed his shot and Ramsdale dived away to his left to make the save.
It was an excellent save, but it was a position where you would expect the City man to score.
Full time: Manchester City 1-0 Sheffield United
Man of the Match: Fernandinho
In a match of such attrition, the calm and composed Brazilian did all he could to help build attacks, while ruthlessly mopping up any loose balls in the midfield. Although age means he is now mainly a bench option, he is still very, very good at his job.