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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

No complaints from Guardiola as late Laporte header rescues point for Man City

French defender's headed goal - his first for the club - cancels out Willy Boly's controversial opener for Wolves

Aymeric Laporte rescued a draw for Manchester City against newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday as Pep Guardiola's team dropped their first points of the season.

After opening their Premier League title defence with victories over Arsenal and Huddersfield Town - the latter a 6-1 thrashing - the reigning champions were forced to dig deep to rescue a point on a day of mild controversy at Molineux, with Laporte's header in the 69th minute cancelling out Willy Boly's opener 12 minutes earlier that went in off his arm.

It appeared Wolves might inflict a first league defeat on the Premier League champions since City's derby defeat to Manchester United in April.

The home side exposed some chinks in City's armour that will offer a glimmer of encouragement to the rest of the Premier League.

"It was a very good point," Guardiola told BBC Sport. "We created chances but their keeper made saves, so today we draw. We knew how good they were this season.

"No complaints. We were in the second half four, five, six times in attack, but it's always complicated. We created a lot, that's why it's good.

"In the first half [Sergio] Aguero hit the post, sometimes it goes in, sometimes not. It's just we were not solid defensively today. That is why we conceded a few chances to them but in general the game, considering the quality of the opponent, was good. We have to give credit.

"Since I arrived three seasons ago we knew how complicated it is and everything, the team was ready especially when we conceded our first goal, the reaction was good. They are fast, strong, good midfield players, I am really surprised how good we played in our build-up but in the end we could not convert."

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Nuno Espirito Santo's men weathered intense City pressure in the first half in which the champions twice struck the frame of the goal, once with the aid of a fabulous save from Rui Patricio.

The Wolves and Portugal No 1 threw himself high to his left to claw a long-range effort from Raheem Sterling onto the crossbar on 22 minutes.

That came shortly after Aguero had struck Patricio's left-hand upright with a snap-shot from a Kyle Walker cross.

That effort came from a break that followed a disallowed goal for Wolves, who had Raul Jimenez flagged offside after he had tapped home a cross-shot by Diogo Jota.

To add to City's frustrations, Wolves took a 57th-minute lead in which there was a case for both offside and handball by French defender Boly.

Joao Moutinho's delicious cross from the left skimmed the head of Matt Doherty and found Boly, with the ball finding its way into the bottom corner via his arm.

"Well, it's not my business. So I'm not referee," was Guardiola's response. "I make a complement for the referee's job and that is all."

His opposite number Nuno told BBC Sport: "I didn't see it. But I saw many chances and just before the goal a one-on-one. I think in that moment the momentum was ours."

City were further agitated when David Silva was denied a penalty for what he felt was a shove by Doherty.

But they were right back in the game when Ilkay Gundogan delivered a free kick from the right and Laporte leapt above Boly to head home the equaliser from six yards.

Had a stoppage-time free-kick from Aguero dipped under the crossbar instead of striking it, City would have forgotten their frustrations.

Instead, Guardiola was left to ponder a number of issues after a rare disappointment for his all-conquering side.

"It was a good game. We conceded too many counter-attacks. We missed simple passes. We created enough chances to win the game but it is a good point," the City manager told Sky Sports.

"We play at the same level as we did last season. People can imagine how difficult it is to play against a good team with nine players behind [the ball]. We tried but we will improve because defensively we were not solid like we normally are.

"Every game we play, we learn for the next one."