- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

MANCHESTER, England (AP) - David Silva and James Milner struck late in each half as champion Manchester City grabbed a scrappy but much-needed 2-0 win over Leicester in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Silva pounced from close range to put City ahead after an unconvincing start at the Etihad Stadium and Milner came off the bench to settle nerves in the 88th minute.

City remains second in the league, five points behind Chelsea.

But it was far from a fluent display against the bottom-place team but City’s win should easy the scrutiny on manager Manuel Pellegrini after a testing period following losses to Barcelona and Liverpool.

“I think always when you don’t have the result you need the next game is very difficult,” Pellegrini said. “That is why the most important thing was to win the three points.”

The Chilean responded to the setbacks by dropping captain Vincent Kompany to the bench while Samir Nasri and Fernandinho did not feature in the squad. Edin Dzeko and Pablo Zabaleta also found themselves among the substitutes in the reshuffle, while January signing Wilfried Bony was handed his first start.

“It was important to refresh the team mentally and physically after two difficult games,” Pellegrini said. “We have the squad we want so it was a good moment to refresh the team.”

The changes initially appeared to do little to fire up the side. No spark came from the crowd either with the atmosphere subdued following the last two dispiriting results.

What flicker of life they did show in the opening stages came from Jesus Navas, who looked in the mood after being left out at Anfield on Sunday.

But it was Leicester which threatened first, with Jeff Schlupp completely wrong-footing Eliaquim Mangala on the counterattack. Martin Demichelis came across to help out his defensive partner.

Leicester then had two penalty appeals in quick succession. Schlupp was unlucky not to get a decision in his favor when it appeared he was impeded by Bony. Andrej Kramaric then went down as he raced with Joe Hart to meet Riyad Mahrez’s throughball but the City goalkeeper did get a touch before the pair collided.

Navas was berated by Yaya Toure after misplacing a pass but he was not deterred, firing in a good cross from which Bony forced goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to save.

Navas then tested Schwarzer himself with a good effort from the edge of the box before Silva teed up Bony with a clever ball, only for the Ivorian to slice high and wide.

City seized the advantage on the stroke of halftime as Aleksandar Kolarov crossed from the left. Bony was unable to take advantage but Silva pounced, tapping in from close range after his initial effort was partially blocked by Wes Morgan.

Bony made an even bigger mess of a chance early in the second half, racing into the perfect position to meet Navas’ pull-back but completely miscuing and hitting the corner flag.

Leicester was again unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when Fernando brought Kramaric down, but referee Robert Madley ruled the offense just outside the area. Replays suggested it may have been just inside and Kramaric was denied again as his free kick was deflected wide.

City wanted to kill off the game but Schwarzer kept Leicester in it with a fine save to keep out Sergio Aguero’s header and did even better to claw away a long-range Toure strike.

The hosts had a let-off when Mahrez got away a shot and a slight deflection took it past Hart and onto the post but City responded with Toure and Kolarov going close.

Bony’s frustrating debut was brought to an end after 72 minutes and his replacement, Milner, finally ended the contest when he turned in a Navas cross in the closing moments.

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