Blues return to winning ways at The Etihad
FA Premier League
Saturday 5 October 2013, 12.45 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c) (Nastasic 34), Lescott, Kolarov (Clichy 58), Toure, Fernandinho, Silva, Milner, Aguero (Nasri 79), Negredo
Unused: Pantilimon, Richards, Navas, Dzeko
Goals: Negredo (17), Aguero (45), Howard (og 69)
Booked: Kompany, Milner, Zabaleta, Silva, Fernandinho
Referee: Jon Moss
Man of the Match: David Silva
Ah, Everton at home. A write-off. A game City never win. Always a dull affair, that the visitors win by the odd goal. But maybe things have changed? The Toffees – under a brand new manager – have changed their style of play and are now more open and far less kick-and-rush. And, for the first time in a long time, the fans were treated to an entertaining match.
It was clear the away side were much changed from previous visits as the match opened with some end-to-end play. The first real chance fell to Toure, who smashed a shot from the edge of the box and Howard pushed it away, dealing well with the bounce right in front of him. Kolarov side-netted a free kick, convincing fans on the far side it was in, before Everton replied: Lukaku was close to rounding Hart, but the England keeper blocked the effort well.
But a disastrous offside trap from the hosts present the Belgian striker with a chance to open the scoring. A ball over the top landed nicely for Lukaku and he brushed Lescott aside to set up a one-on-one. His shot was low and hard, and Hart got a hand to it, but couldn’t keep it out. It was a difficult save, but he might feel he could have done better.
It took 92 seconds for the hosts to respond. In fact, following City’s kick off after conceding, the only Everton player to touch the ball before the equaliser was scored was Howard: It was neatly slotted through for Negredo to face him one-on-one and the shot clipped the keeper on its way into the net.
With 22 minutes played, City were close to going in front, as the frantic start showed few signs of slowing down. A corner on the right flank was played short by Milner and returned back to him by Silva. The England international’s cross was deflected onto the outside of the post.
Four minutes later and the home side should definitely have been in front. A free kick on the left flank was taken short by Toure and a neat flick between him and Silva put Aguero through on goal – but he missed, shooting wide of the far post on a one-on-one with Howard.
But there was a sting to come for the home fans. With nobody near him, Kompany went down and there was concern from his fellow defenders. The physios came on and the captain limped off – with concerns of his recent groin and thigh problems returning.
Another gilt-edged opportunity was missed by the hosts and, once more, it was Aguero: Uncharacteristically he took an airshot when clean through on goal, following a brilliant tackle by Negredo on Distin. It looked like it wasn’t going to be his day, as he volleyed wide from the left side of the box.
Never one to let his head drop, though, Aguero did get his goal and right on the stroke of half time. Silva played a brilliant slide-rule pass through for the Argentine to set him through on goal. Having missed two one-on-ones already, he buried the third, planting it neatly into the bottom corner. City went in at the break with the advantage.
Early in the second half, City were forced into another substitution, as Nastasic and Kolarov clashed. Both needed treatment, but the left back wasn’t able to continue, leaving the pitch for stitches to a head wound. It was a start to Blues in the wars – as Zabaleta soon needed attention to a cut above his eye.
If City fans were still smarting about some of the decisions leading to goals at Villa Park, though, they will have been relieved to see one go for the Blues just before the 70 minute mark. Zabaleta got the wrong side of Coleman and was nudged slightly. The full back went down easily and the referee pointed to the spot – but it was probably the wrong decision.
Aguero stepped up and forced the goal, but missed the penalty. His shot was tipped onto the post by Howard, but the Everton goalkeeper could do nothing as the ball bounced back onto his head and into the net. It’ll go down as a missed spot kick for the Argentine, but he’d done enough to get the Blues a two-goal advantage.
With that goal, the game began to slow down. City were content to keep possession and keep moving the Everton back line around without really threatening, while the visitors seemed to accept that their unbeaten start to the season was coming to a close.
A solid win in the end for the Blues and a good response to the last week.