Match report: Manchester City 1 Hull City 1

February 8, 2015

David Meyler gave Hull the lead in bizarre fashion on 35 minutes, after Ahmed Elmohamady had already seen his header cannon back off the crossbar. Manchester City were unsurprisingly dominant in possession but did not work Allan McGregor in the Hull goal a great deal.

The home side’s equalizer finally came in injury time through a wicked free-kick struck by James Milner’s right foot. The Sky Blues maintained their record of failing to win a single league game without star man Yaya Toure in their midfield. A worrying statistic in such an expensively assembled side.

The game began with a very flat atmosphere, both on and off the pitch. With the obvious emphasis on the home side they failed to play with the tempo or intensity one would expect of a Man City side against relegation strugglers.

Hull City were not exceptional but were well-drilled, lacking the cracks in their defence that were such a prevalent feature of their two previous ties against West Ham and Newcastle. The opening exchanges lacked a great deal of openings but the best came to the away side on the 15 minute mark. Good footwork and a sublime cross from Robbie Brady teased the Manchester City defence before finding the head of Elmohamady, whose header was just a few inches too high and struck the woodwork.

City continued to dominate possession but were laborious with the ball, never stretching the Hull defence or playing particularly expansive football. It was Hull who eventually broke the deadlock on the 35 minute mark. A nice touch and dink into Sone Aluko by Gaston Ramirez threatened the Man City defence.

The ball finally broke to Ramirez but just as he was gearing to pull the trigger, a fierce slide tackle from Pablo Zabaleta cannoned back off Ramirez’s shins, past Joe Hart and onto the post; the follow-up was neatly tucked away by David Meyler, the Irishman’s first goal of the season.

Manuel Pellegrini introduced Jesus Navas at half-time to inject some much needed width into his side. With Navas and Zabaleta combining, Man City were more dangerous in the second half and began to stretch the Hull side more in the second.

Steve Bruce eventually took off his only starting striker, Sone Aluko, in order to introduce another left-sided player in the form of Andy Robertson to counter Man City’s threat down the right side. Man City’s first real chance was a neat ball by Navas which found Edin Dzeko, who flashed the ball towards the goal but Allan McGregor got down well to prevent the Bosnian equalizing. Somewhat surprisingly Pellegrini then replaced both Dzeko and Silva with James Milner and Stevan Jovetic.

There was also a debut for Hull City’s deadline day signing Dame N’Doye, who spent most of his 20 minutes on the pitch as a spectator. The Tigers defended valiantly, the midfield in particular provided much sterner protection of the back four than they have in recent weeks.

Football is a cruel game though and victory was snatched from Steve Bruce’s clasping hands with the final whistle only moments away. Sergio Aguero was awarded a soft free-kick after a nudge from Tom Huddlestone, although Hull couldn’t complain too much as Man City had a reasonable penalty shout turned down earlier in the half.

Second half substitute James Milner stepped up and unleashed a wicked strike, with power and curve, leaving McGregor with no chance. Disappointment for Hull at the death but Steve Bruce will still see a point at the Etihad as a point gained.

More important tasks lie ahead for the Hull City manager now though, their next 5 games are all against teams around them and will surely make or break their season. Manchester City meanwhile, have not made life any easier for themselves.

Without a win for over a month, the gap between themselves and Chelsea has opened up to 7 points and you would have to consider Mourinho’s side as major title favourites now.

Report by AlfiePH