FA Premier League
Saturday 1 September 2012, 17.30 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta (K Toure 77), Kompany (c), Lescott, Kolarov, Rodwell, Y Toure, Nasri (Razak 90), Silva (Milner 83), Tevez, Dzeko
Unused: Pantilimon, Clichy, Sinclair, Balotelli
Goals: Y Toure (16), Dzeko (61), Tevez (90+3)
Booked: Kolarov, Rodwell
Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the Match: Jack Rodwell
Despite a flurry of transfer deadline day activities, only Scott Sinclair was in the eighteen-man squad to face Queens Park Rangers, in a repeat of the final game of last season. And, in a somewhat similar style to that match, City began on the front foot. A Dzeko header just evaded Rodwell at the back post, before the Bosnian had an effort cleared off the line. Yaya Toure tried to smash the follow up into the net, but it was scrambled behind.
Rodwell almost put the visitors ahead in bizarre circumstances, as he connected to a loose ball in midfield to nick it away from a QPR boot. In doing so, though, he sent a looping ball towards Hart’s goal, with the end result being it landing on the roof of the net just beyond the bar.
But with just over the quarter hour gone, City took the lead. A deep corner from Silva couldn’t be converted by Tevez, but Yaya Toure was there to follow up and smash the ball past Rob Green. All the pressure had come from the home side and the goal had been coming.
A flowing City move from midfield finished with Kolarov free inside the QPR box on the left flank. With the opportunity to shoot, the full-back opted instead to look for Tevez in the middle, but his ball across was blocked.
A few minutes later, Silva was lucky to get the chance to shoot; he didn’t need asking twice and tried to poke the ball past Green from six yards out. A great save prevented the shot from crossing the line and a block on Nasri’s follow up gave City another corner. Silva’s shot was then blocked after he was put through from a fantastic Kolarov pass, but it was on the Spaniard’s right foot and he couldn’t get it past the covering defender.
The second half showed no signs of the pattern changing. Early on, Zabaleta almost bagged his second goal in as many games against Mark Hughes’s QPR: Nasri slipped the pass forward for the full-back to run on to and, with a first time effort, he curled the ball onto the underside of the bar with his left foot. From the rebound, Silva’s flick rolled wide of the post.
But, on the hour, the visitors taught the blues what happened if you don’t take your chances. Andy Johnson’s effort from just inside the box forced a fantastic save from Hart, after it took a nick on its way to the goal. But Zamora was on hand to nod the rebound over the line from half a yard out with no City shirt to challenge. QPR had stolen level.
The parity didn’t last long, however. Last season, if was the visitors who went on to lead, but Roberto Mancini’s men were the ones who took control of the tie. Kolarov slipped the ball to Tevez just inside the box and his touch took him to the byline. There, he crossed for Dzeko, who powered his header past Green and into the net.
With 15 minutes to play, the away side could have pulled level: Nedum Onuoha headed a cross towards Ryan Nelsen, but his attempt on goal finished well wide of Hart’s post. It was a let off for City, who were beginning to look shaky under pressure, despite being in control for the majority of the match.
But, as the game headed for stoppage time, the home side sealed the win in fortuitous circumstances. The ball broke for Dzeko inside the QPR box and he blasted the shot at goal. It was an awful effort that looked like it was flying wide until it hit Tevez on the shins and deflected past Rob Green. City were home and dry.