English Premier League
Saturday 5 November 2011, 17.30 KO
City: Hart, Richards (c), Savic, Lescott, Kolarov, Y Toure, Milner, Barry (Balotelli 75), Silva, Aguero (A Johnson 68), Dzeko (K Toure 88)
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Clichy, Nasri
Goals: Dzeko (43), Silva (52), Y Toure (74)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the Match: James Milner
The game started at a furious tempo and it was the hosts who started the brighter. City’s passes weren’t accurate and several times in the opening stages the visitors either gifted the ball to their opponents or passed out of play. Traore had a great chance to get a low ball into the box, but he couldn’t beat Savic at the front post. A great bit of play from Aguero, though, let him break into the box, but Ferdinand was in to concede the corner.
With just over 20 minutes played, Anton Ferdinand should have given QPR the lead. A deep free kick was nodded behind for a corner and Barton found Helguson at the back post. He headed it across goal and the centre-back was inches away from connecting, but, fortunately for the visitors, it bounced behind and to safety.
But that safety didn’t last long. A dubious free kick was given on the right flank and it was delivered into the box by Barton and it was met by the head of Bothroyd. Hart had no chance as the header dropped into the bottom corner. It had been coming and it was the first time the blues had gone behind in the league this season.
Aguero looked to respond immediately as he broke into the box with the home fans shouting for handball, but his cut back couldn’t be converted by Dzeko. Yaya Toure tried to volley the rebound at goal, but that was blocked. Aguero then had the chance to shoot in the box, but he was robbed of the ball by Ferdinand as he tried to switch the ball onto his right foot.
City were furious with the referee as QPR were allowed to break away when Aguero appeared to have been fouled on the edge of the box and it took a great double save from Hart to keep the score at 1-0. Wright-Phillips sprinted down the left and Bothroyd’s shot was expertly saved, before Helguson’s diving header was pushed away, with the goal gaping.
Kenny was on hand to deny Aguero as the visitors looked for an equaliser, before Silva tried a backheel inside the box to beat the QPR keeper, but he didn’t make a good enough connection. Dzeko gave the ball away inside his own half and Bothroyd should have doubled the home side’s lead, but his header clipped the post and bounced behind. Kolarov then hit a free kick over the bar from a good position.
But, as the home side looked to get to the break in front, the visitors got an equaliser. Dzeko cut in from the left wing and carried the ball past Ferdinand, who went to ground. His shot found the bottom corner at Kenny’s near post and City were level, largely against the run of play. With the break approaching, City were suddenly on top and Aguero hit the post from range.
The second half began with Hart in action straight away. Wright-Phillips chased the ball down on the edge of the City box and Savic nicked it away. Barton picked up the pieces and fired a shot from outside the area that the City keeper needed to get two hands on to palm away. But soon enough City had gotten themselves in front.
Milner broke away from the visiting defence and fed the ball to Dzeko on the left. He fired a low ball into the box for Silva to control, dummy and spin expertly. The hosts’ back line bought the dummy and the Spaniard had time to fire past Kenny at his near post and City’s poor first half hour was behind them.
It could have been better for City straight away: Aguero raced onto a ball over the top from Toure after Kenny’s clearance fell to the visiting midfielder. He tried three times to square it, with the first two being blocked straight back to him. The third was deflected to Dzeko, who looked to bend a shot at the back post, but it bounced just wide.
Aguero should have done better a minute later, as he had the chance to shoot inside the box. Kenny pulled off a great stop from a deflected Dzeko effort and an Aguero snapshot from the edge of the box hit the side netting, as City began to get on top.
But QPR were able to wrestle the initiative back. Barton had the chance to shoot from the edge of the box, but he looked instead for Helguson and the moment passed. The former City midfielder had a shot charged down shortly after, before Mackie volleyed over from inside the six yard box, when he really should have found the net.
And there came the equaliser. Traore managed to get a ball into the box and it deflected for Bothroyd to head at goal at the back post. That header was on target, but it hit the back of Helguson, who was just onside in front of Hart, and beat the England keeper to pull the home side level.
But the visitors were back in front minutes later. QPR sat off the away side and City were able to get a passing move going. Barry switched the play to Kolarov on the left and he delived a great ball into the box. Yaya Toure met it and headed it straight past Kenny to restore the City lead. Balotelli tried to make it four when he had a shot, but it was blocked after some neat play by Silva.
Balotelli was then rightly booked for a dive inside the box, before Silva had a shot flash past the far post as he broke into the area. But, had he squared the ball, Yaya Toure would have had a clear sight of goal. Helguson hit the bar from a header at the other end, after a deep ball in from Barton’s free kick, as the hosts stepped it up again.
As the game moved into stoppage time, Faurlin skied an effort from the edge of the box after a spell of head tennis in City’s area, as the hosts were on top and looking for a point. Balotelli had a go from 45 yards, spotting Kenny off his line, but it was well wide. Kenny came forward for a last minute corner, but Helguson headed Barton’s cross wide and City kept their five point lead at the top of Premier League, having ridden their luck along the way.