Although City traveled to the Etihad in good spirits off the back of two crucial home wins, this was a game that they never expected to get anything out of, such is the strength of Pep Guardiola’s side.
The news that Harry Maguire would miss Saturday’s fixture through injury was a body blow and only added to the fear that Man City’s attackers would prove too strong for the Tigers. Michael Dawson, short of game time following a lengthy lay off, was brought in to replace Maguire. The other change from the XI that defeated Boro saw Evandro come in for Hernandez, who had to settle for a place on the bench.
Within five minutes of kick-off Jakupovic was forced to make a double save as he kept out David Silva and then Leroy Sane in quick succession. A series of Man City efforts from outside the area failed to trouble Jakupovic but the Swiss goalkeeper was called into action just before the half-hour mark to tip Yaya Toure’s free-kick over the crossbar.
Soon after the inevitable happened as City found themselves behind courtesy of an own goal. Navas’s pace down the right allowed him to put a dangerous cross into the box, with Elmohamady only able to turn the ball into his own net at the far post.
Immediately after going behind the Tigers should have equalised, but Niasse failed to convert the simplest of chances when Evandro had put it on a plate for him. Grosicki fired wide from the edge of the area before half-time as City looked to unnerve the home side, but the score going into the break remained 1-0.
Man City flew out of the blocks at the start of the second half and doubled their lead on 48 minutes. Raheem Sterling made City’s defenders look like amateurs as he weaved his way into the area before seeing his cross-cum-shot parried away by Jakupovic – unfortunately Aguero was on hand to finish the job despite the best efforts of Dawson on the line.
It was almost 3-0 moments later but Jakupovic saved well to prevent a Dawson own goal after another impressive run from Sterling. It was therefore no surprise to see the former Liverpool winger involved as Man City did make it 3-0 just after the hour. Sterling’s pass found Delph on the edge of the area, and his shot flew in to end any hope that City might get an unlikely point.
Jakupovic saved well from Delph to prevent the midfielder getting his second of the afternoon, while Aguero volleyed wide from inside the box. City limited the damage by grabbing a late consolation goal through Andrea Ranocchia – how Bravo didn’t keep his tame effort out is a mystery – but this didn’t stop the home side from taking all three points.
Fortunately for Marco Silva and co Swansea went down 1-0 to West Ham on Saturday meaning that City remain outside of the bottom three. A trip to Stoke on Saturday represents a more realistic chance of putting points on the board.
Harry Drew (@hdrew95 )