Erling Haaland breezily lifts Man City after John Stones flashback

Manchester City have certainly worn some eye-catching gear to matches in recent years and nobody would have batted an eyelid if they had walked out of the City Ground wearing gloves and balaclavas.

Nottingham Forest will feel robbed and Pep Guardiola will feel like he has aged a decade, but at the end of a nervy 90 minutes a 2-0 win means the Blues are four games away from history. While Arsenal look like they will push them all the way and remain top after they survived the North London derby, a few more wins will make City champions.

The last time the title race was as close as this, fine margins ultimately proved decisive - think the millimetres the ball was from crossing the line for Liverpool before John Stones cleared it, or the centimetres over the line from Sergio Aguero at Burnley before that was cleared. At the end of this campaign, we could be talking about Murillo's yard.

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The Forest centre-back was no more than that from City's goal when the ball bounced for him as Ederson capped off a dismal half by dropping a simple ball in injury time. The defender's eyes lit up and he flicked up a leg, only for the ball to somehow lift as high as the bar and as it flicked the woodwork it carried on its trajectory out of play.

That was far from City's only let-off. Guardiola's side will have known to expect a fiery reception from a club battling relegation and feeling a sense of injustice from refereeing decisions and their points deduction; a hearty booing of the Premier League anthem may have helped City feel at home, yet within 20 seconds of the start Forest should have been ahead after Ola Aina had danced past Kyle Walker and crossed for Neco Williams.

The finish wasn't there, and if Williams could at least say that Josko Gvardiol had blocked his shot there was no excuse for Chris Wood when he messed up his connection four yards from goal. His goal cost City two points last year and possibly helped them to three this time out.

By then, City had taken the lead as Gvardiol scored his third goal in five games having registered zero in his first 32 appearances for the Blues. Guardiola turned and pointed to set piece coach Carlos Vicens after the Croatian headed in a corner to inflict more pain on a team who had conceded more than any other from dead balls.

It was very much against the run of play though, and that feeling heightened after the break as Forest began with Wood missing another big chance. Guardiola was so perturbed by what he was seeing that Erling Haaland was summoned from the bench for his first game since he limped out of the Real Madrid clash.

Within 10 minutes, Kevin De Bruyne had played the Norwegian through and it was 2-0 and City had won what they should have lost on balance of play. It required a flashy save from Stefan Ortega to keep the clean sheet but what a result and what a week.

As well as what a week, what a month and what a season City have had. Football can be a funny old game - City played much better here last year and drew in a result that left many thinking they would never catch Arsenal in the league - but it is never simply about 90 minutes.

Guardiola's side have not lost a game since December, which is quite astonishing. Even more astonishing that this run of form over more than four months has still not been enough to lift them into top spot.

It has been a slog and City have ground out the results even when the performances have not been there. It is widely accepted that the Blues haven't looked as good as last year, yet here they are again - four games away from winning the Premier League title.

Brighton had been picked out by Guardiola as the dangerous fixture to watch in the remaining games, only for that hurdle to be cleared with ease in a 4-0 midweek thumping on the south coast. This match had danger written all over it though, coming only three days later and against a team fighting for their lives at the bottom end of the table.

Forest were just missing that clinical touch, but credit to City for finding the resolve to get the win in a game that didn't play out as they would have liked. That started before kick-off with Phil Foden and Ruben Dias ruled out due to illness.

Where they could have come up short on a difficult, dry pitch and a motivated home side, City came through the storm with their fate in their own hands. Haaland, so often the centre of attention, had an almost-empty pitch to serenely walk off when he had finished his post-match interview as he strolled off after a satisfying return to action.

City know that their last four matches will not be a walk in the park, and they will not want to rely on poor finishing from opposition teams. Guardiola and his players know though, that even when things aren't fully going their way they know how to get the job done.