x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Different score but same points for Manchester City

It might not be as unforgettable as last week's 6-1 demolition of Manchester United, but they still took three points when Wolves visited Etihad Stadium.

After a previous meeting on Wednesday, in the Carling Cup, Manchester City again defeated Wolves, this time in the Premier League.
After a previous meeting on Wednesday, in the Carling Cup, Manchester City again defeated Wolves, this time in the Premier League.

MANCHESTER // If there is a problem in recording the sort of result that will resonate through the ages, it lies in one question: how do you top it?

How, indeed, do you follow it? For Manchester City, it was a quandary they resolved without undue fuss but without the same flourish.

The 6-1 derby demolition of Manchester United was unforgettable and a 3-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers rather less memorable but, as the realist Roberto Mancini recognises, they are both worth three points.

"It is impossible to always score four, five or six goals," the City manager said.

Courtesy of Edin Dzeko, Aleksandar Kolarov and Adam Johnson, his side mustered three. But as their tally now stands at a remarkable 36 in 10 league games, even that was below their average.

In part, it was because of Wolves' resistance. They proved tougher opponents than United.

This week it was City, not United, who finished with 10 men, Vincent Kompany receiving his marching orders and, in a first half when Wayne Hennessey made brilliant saves to deny Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero and Dzeko, they threatened to become the first English side this season to stop City scoring.

Instead, the breakthrough had a cruelty. So defiant beforehand, the former City trainee Hennessey erred. His attempted clearance was charged down by Aguero, allowing Dzeko to roll the ball into the empty net.

"Poor old Wayne," said Mick McCarthy, the Wolves manager. "It's a mistake that's let them take the lead. But he was fabulous."

He was until then, anyhow. Kolarov had a similarly simple task to score the second, albeit from closer range, after Hennessey pushed David Silva's shot into his path.

The third was testament to Mario Balotelli's progress, the Italian making a 50-yard break but also displaying the maturity to wait for Yaya Toure and Johnson to join him in the last third.

When they had, the Italian and the Ivorian combined and the Englishman completed the move with a lovely curling shot. "A fabulous finish," added McCarthy.

It relieved the pressure created by a move that brought Wolves a goal and cost City a man.

"In football, in every moment, the game can change," rationalised Mancini. Here was an example.

Adlene Guedioura's 25-yard shot was repelled by Joe Hart but just as Kevin Doyle was preparing to convert the rebound, Vincent Kompany made a despairing attempt to get there first.

He only contrived to upend the Wolves forward, resulting in his expulsion, and without preventing the visitors from scoring. Stephen Hunt drilled in the resulting penalty.

It was a lifeline, but Wolves' spirit and organisation might have merited more. Instead, with one point from seven games, they have stalled at a time when City have accelerated.

In the meeting between in-form and out, between top of the table and near the foot, it was unsurprising that Wolves opted for a damage-limitation policy.

This is what City can expect to face now, the massed ranks of obdurate opponents posing a challenge: break us down. But it was a task they accomplished yesterday and one they will have to again.


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