Managerless Blues secure comfortable win over relegated Royals
FA Premier League
Tuesday 14 May 2013, 20.00 KO
City: Hart, Richards (c), K Toure (Maicon 15), Lescott, Clichy, Y Toure, Barry (Garcia 58), Milner, Silva, Tevez, Aguero (Dzeko 63)
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Nasri, Rodwell
Goals: Aguero (40), Dzeko (88)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the Match: James Milner
The game began to a chorus of Mancini chants from the away end and it was the visitors who were quickest out of the blocks. Within four minutes, City had wasted a good chance from the edge of the box as Milner skied his shot, Aguero had an effort saved and the rebound blocked, and a long potshot from Silva was well held by McCarthy. City’s post-Mancini era had started with them on the front foot.
On six minutes, City really should have been ahead. The ball was given away on the edge of the Reading box and Tevez slipped it through to Milner. His shot was well blocked by McCarthy, but the rebound fell invitingly for Aguero. The Argentine raced onto it and nearly found the back of the net, but, once again, the goalkeeper managed to block it behind.
Reading then had a spell of possession thanks to some sloppy City play. Kolo Toure had to leave the game with injury, before a bad throw from Joe Hart allowed the home side to take the ball. Robson-Kanu took on a shot from the edge of the box, but the goalkeeper recovered to save it comfortably. And the game subsequently became scrappy, as both sides began to give the ball away in the wet conditions.
With half an hour played, both sides had great chances to take the lead. Reading forced a great save from Hart, as a low shot skipped off the ground and needed to be pushed away. At the other end, Yaya Toure was played in by Aguero and he found Tevez in the middle, but he couldn’t dig the ball from his feet and McCarthy was out to smother the effort.
A flowing move from the visitors almost led to the opening goal with 39 minutes played. Silva was played in cutely by Maicon and the Spaniard’s low ball into the box was left by Tevez for Aguero. He shot first time, but it was deflected over. From the resulting corner – which was taken short – a series of one-twos between Milner and Silva gave the England international the chance to square it low. He picked out Aguero, who opened his body to divert the ball into the back of the net.
With the half coming to a close, there was more brilliant football from the visitors. Aguero via Maicon found Toure and he ran at the box. He slipped it to Milner, who did the same back to Aguero and, after dancing around the last-ditch challenge, he fired at goal, but it was well saved once again. The rebound fell nicely for Clichy, but his effort was over the bar.
The second half started much how the first ended: Both sides attacked and there could have been goals aplenty. McCarthy palmed out a Tevez low cross straight between Barry and Milner lurked on the edge of the box, before Hart pulled off a brilliant stop from Pogrebnyak, as he skipped away from Maicon to head at goal. Tevez then robbed the ball in the Reading box, but his shot was deflected over. It was all go.
With 56 minutes played, City produced yet more fantastic build-up. One touch passing allowed Tevez the chance to touch it back to Toure on the edge of the box, and the Ivorian’s effort was aimed at the bottom corner. McCarthy, though, got down well to push the ball behind. Even though it was only a one goal advantage, the away side were cruising.
With 20 minutes to play, Reading’s first corner of the game was well defended by the visitors, who were then able to break away. Silva carried the ball towards the opposition box, before slipping it through to Dzeko, who was just onside. He cut back onto his left side to sell a dummy to the defender, but could only pick out McCarthy’s gloves. Toure did the same as a deflected Maicon effort fell nicely for the midfielder on the edge of the area.
Seven minutes later, a Reading free kick held in the wind and dropped nicely for McCleary to shoot at goal. It was deflected and, with Hart committed to the first effort, it dropped behind with the England goalkeeper only able to watch. From the corner, Tevez was in the right place at the right time to head it clear from the line.
As the game headed towards full time, the visitors managed to finally add another goal to their tally for the evening, having converted the second of their many, many chances. Dzeko missed the opportunity to square for Tevez, but it broke kindly for Silva. He picked out Dzeko again, once he was back onside, and the Bosnian side-stepped the challenge before sliding the ball under McCarthy.
City cruised to victory with perhaps their performance of the season and they secured second place in the table.