Blues secure another away win in treacherous conditions
FA Premier League
Wednesday 1 January 2014, 12.45 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Kolarov, Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri (Milner 69), Navas (Rodwell 90), Dzeko, Negredo (Garcia 59)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Clichy, Boyata
Goals: Fernandinho (14), Toure (58), Kolarov (66)
Booked: Nasri, Dzeko, Kompany, Zabaleta, Milner
Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the Match: Aleksandar Kolarov
Neither side were showing signs of a New Year hangover as the game got underway. Inside the opening five minutes, both City and Swansea had a good opportunity to open the scoring. First, Negredo slipped a good ball inside for Dzeko, whose side-footed effort was just wide of Tremmel’s far corner, before Bony took on a shot from range that had Hart scrambling across his goal. The England keeper couldn’t get there as it clipped the post.
Soon, though, the visitors had settled the better. Zabaleta’s overlapping run with Navas earned the away side the first corner of the match and that was what led to them opening the scoring. The ball in was cleared to the edge of the box, where Fernandinho hit it first-time. It travelled through the crowded area and past Tremmel, into the net.
The response almost came on 24 minutes. A quick break from the home side allowed a run through the middle by De Guzman to go untracked. He was found and a last-ditch challenge from Navas was enough to put the Swansea man off, and his side-footed effort low to Hart’s right was well blocked by the goalkeeper.
On the half-hour, Navas pulled off a great dummy to allow him space to run into on the right. He squared for Dzeko, whose shot was deflected, and had Tremmel stretching to his left – but it dropped just wide of the post.
With two minutes of the half left, Swansea were close to pulling level. The hosts had been growing in confidence since the City goal and a touch lay-off to Bony allowed the forward to belt an effort across Hart’s goal. It was just wide of his right-hand post, but the goalkeeper was worried.
It was inevitable that the equaliser would come in stoppage time. Bony drifted away from Kompany and Nastasic and was found with a dinked cross from the right. He nodded inside Hart’s left post, leaving the keeper with no chance of saving it – though the linesman should have flagged; he was offside.
Five minutes into the second half and the visitors should have been in front. Negredo capitalised on a Flores mistake to nick the ball away from the defender ahead of Tremmel, but his effort towards to half-unguarded goal was too weak and the goalkeeper was able to pounce on it. He should have buried it.
Just before the hour mark, though, a good spell of pressure from City resulted in the visitors’ second goal. Zabaleta kept a loose ball alive inside the Swansea box and flicked it to Toure, who smashed a shot towards goal. It was deflected and that change of direction beat Tremmel, with the ball hitting the net via the base of the post.
A break-away from City added to their tally on 66 minutes. Swansea had been pressurising the visitors’ goal when a good tackle from Kolarov set the left back free. He carried it to the edge of the box, where a run from Toure opened the space for him to shoot. Kolarov needs no second invitation – and his deflected right-footed effort went through Tremmel and into the net.
Bony stung Hart’s gloves with an effort from the edge of the box on 71 minutes, before the England keeper came flying out for a corner but missed the ball entirely. Fortunately for the visitors, Williams couldn’t react in time to head into the empty net.
As the game meandered into stoppage time, Swansea pulled a goal back. Bony found a pocket of space mid-way into the City half and took a touch to get the ball out of his feet. His effort from 25 yards swerved away from Hart and found the bottom corner.
It was too late for the hosts, though, and City hung on for their first back-to-back away wins in the league for 12 months.