English Premier League
Sunday 11 March 2012, 14.00 KO
City: Hart, Richards, Savic, K Toure, Clichy, Barry (Aguero 37), de Jong, Y Toure, Nasri (A Johnson 86), Silva (Dzeko 87), Balotelli
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Pizarro, Milner, Dzeko
Booked: de Jong, Balotelli
Referee: Lee Mason
Man of the Match: Yaya Toure
The home side began the game the stronger, controlling the ball and the early possession. Taylor crossed towards the back post, where Kolo Toure could only flick it on to Routledge, but the Swansea man’s volley was well over the bar and not troubling Hart. And with five minutes played, Routledge took the ball around Hart and went down, with the referee pointing to the spot – up stepped Sinclair and missed; the England keeper blocking the low shot to his right.
A poor clearance from a Silva cross almost gave Balotelli the chance to open the scoring after some neat feet to flick the ball over the covering defenders, but he couldn’t find room for the shot. Barry and de Jong lost out from the resulting clearance and de Jong was forced to commit a foul to prevent the breakaway, taking the yellow card.
Kolo Toure blocked a cross from Sigurdsson, but couldn’t get the ball clear and it found its way to Danny Graham on the penalty spot, with his back to goal. He turned the Ivorian and got his shot in at goal, but it was wide of Hart’s post. City were struggling to get their foot on the ball. Rangel fired in a shot soon after, but Toure was in the way to block. City’s breakaway was stopped by Sinclair, who took the ball off Nasri’s toe as he tried to volley at Vorm’s goal.
A neat ball into the box from Nasri, after some good possession between Silva, Yaya Toure and Clichy allowed Balotelli to slip in behind the home side’s defence. But the defender recovered to concede the corner. From that flag kick, Yaya Toure belted the ball at goal, but it was deflected over. Two more corners were just about scrambled away by the hosts, as Balotelli and Richards tried to squeeze them in, before de Jong smashed at goal and Silva curled an effort two yards wide. It was City’s best spell of the half, but they couldn’t find the breakthrough.
City began the second half much better than they did the first: They saw more of the ball and fashioned the first good shooting chance, as the ball was given away to Balotelli on the left. He found Aguero, who shot at Vorm’s near post, but he dragged the effort wide. A low ball into City’s box then caused the visitors problems, and Richards and Toure just about squeezed the ball behind for a corner.
De Jong intercepted a Swansea pass to prevent the breakaway and fed Silva, ten minutes into the second half, but the Spaniard chose to cross for Aguero at the back post instead of taking on the shot: It was the wrong option and he misplaced the pass. A good spin from Nasri inside the area allowed him a shooting chance, but it was straight at Vorm.
Balotelli went down under a challenge from behind by Allen inside the area and the referee was unmoved, but there was little difference between the decision at the other end in the first half. Aguero was then guilty of making the wrong choice in trying to find Silva on the edge of the box, when he had the chance to shoot. A slide-rule Silva pass into the box was just about cut out by Allen, before it got to Balotelli.
Some more City pressure on the Swansea box with 68 minutes played allowed Silva to slip the ball into Richards, who turned and shot in one movement. Vorm blocked the initial effort and managed to dive on the rebound, as Balotelli closed in for the tap-in. Sigurdsson then crossed from a corner and found the head of Caulker, but the centre-back couldn’t direct his effort at Hart’s goal. Balotelli found space inside the area for a shot, as Aguero picked him out, but he didn’t connect properly and failed to test Vorm.
Savic gave the ball away on the halfway line, playing a short pass towards Yaya Toure and it handed the ball to the opposition. Swansea broke and worked the ball to the right flank, where Routledge crossed. Moore was unmarked at the back post and he nodded past Hart, with just seven minutes to play. Vorm denied Balotelli as City looked to hit back immediately, before Kolo Toure stung Vorm’s fingers from range.
City had the ball in the net with two minutes to play, as Vorm came for Clichy’s cross and missed. Richards nodded it into the net, but the flag was up for offside. It was close, but it was the correct call, as the full back didn’t get back in time. Two saves from Vorm kept City out again, as first Dzeko and then Toure were denied from crosses.
City couldn’t force another shooting chance in stoppage time and, with United winning, were off the top of the table for the first time in months.