x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Manchester City persevere to defeat Premier League newcomers Hull City

Alvaro Negredo, a former Hull City target, and Yaya Toure struck in the second half to pull out a victory over one of the Premier League's newcomers, writes Richard Jolly.

Manchester City's Yaya Toure, centre, vies with Hull City's Danny Graham, right, during their English Premier League football match at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. Paul Ellis / AFP
Manchester City's Yaya Toure, centre, vies with Hull City's Danny Graham, right, during their English Premier League football match at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. Paul Ellis / AFP

Manchester City 2 Hull City 0

Manchester City Negredo 65’, Toure 90’
Man of the match Curtis Davies (Hull City)

MANCHESTER // Some thought it was an example of ambition. Rather more, however, felt it was the sort of ludicrous offer that makes headlines but is destined to fail. Four years ago, when Hull City were looking for a striker to spearhead their survival bid in the English Premier League, they attempted to buy Real Madrid’s Alvaro Negredo. Unsurprisingly, they failed. The Spaniard opted for Sevilla.

If that was an obscure, if entertaining, part of Hull’s history, the past and present merged in a damaging combination for the promoted club.

The £20 million (Dh113.8m) Negredo, part of Manchester City’s summer spending spree, is the sort of player the modern-day Hull realise they cannot afford. He was also the reason their admirable efforts at the Etihad Stadium did not earn them a point.

Brought off the bench in the most decisive substitution of Manuel Pellegrini’s brief reign – Edin Dzeko was hauled off after 45 minutes – Negredo provided an illustration of his predatory qualities.

“I expect from Alvaro Negredo exactly what we are seeing every time he plays,” said his manager.

By heading in Pablo Zabaleta’s cross, Negredo pressed his case for a first City start. More significantly, after Pellegrini’s team encountered problems against one escapee from the Championship, they saw off another.

Cardiff City beat one of the title favourites on Sunday. Thankfully for the Chilean, there was no repeat. After Negredo ended Hull’s resistance, Yaya Toure garnished the win with a glorious free kick.

Whether they merited the win was another matter. Electric against Newcastle United in their previous home game, Pellegrini’s team were rather less fluent Saturday.

“I never expected all the games would be the same as Newcastle,” the manager said.

This was the opposite, uneventful where City had been electric 12 days earlier. Hull disrupted their rhythm, not permitting Fernandinho and Toure to run the game. Having beaten Norwich City last week despite playing with 10 men for 70 minutes, they offered further indications they will not be beating a swift and ignominious return to the second tier.

“We are rightly disappointed with the scoreline,” manager Steve Bruce said. In particular, it was a source of irritation that his side failed to register a goal.

Once again, the absence of the injured Vincent Kompany threatened to cost Manchester City. Indeed, after six minutes Sone Aluko sprinted past Joleon Lescott with embarrassing ease and advanced on goal only to scuff a tame shot wide.

“Sone would have capped a wonderful performance from him if he stuck it away,” sighed Bruce.

Then Danny Graham volleyed Robbie Brady’s cross past Joe Hart but the striker had strayed just offside. “It is right but [it is] two inches offside,” said Bruce, lamenting the fine margins.

In different ways, Lescott threatened goals at either end. Both he and Aleksandar Kolarov almost scored with headers but while Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor twice excelled in the opening 15 minutes, he was scarcely kept busy thereafter.

A defence that has been improved by summer recruit Curtis Davies is well drilled. The twin additions from Tottenham Hotspur, Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone, have added balance and ballast to the midfield. If Hull had a goalscorer, their chances of survival would be excellent.

Their major target is Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner.

“I’ve had him twice before and he did very, very well at Birmingham and Sunderland but can we get him to come to us and can we afford him?” asked Bruce.

But even if the answer is in the affirmative, he will not be in the calibre or of the same cost as Negredo.

A scorer 31 times for Sevilla last season, he has two goals in as many games for Manchester City.

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