Barclay’s Premier League
Saturday 15 January 2011, 15.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, K Touré (Lescott 54), Kolarov, de Jong, Barry, Y Touré, A Johnson (Silva 84), Tevez (c) (Milner 82), Dzeko
Unused: Given, Boateng, Vieira, Jo
Goals: Jones (og 41), Tevez (51, 66) Y Touré (54)
Referee: Lee Mason
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez
City knew that a victory would take them to the top of the Premier League, albeit for a short time depending on United result against Tottenham on Sunday. But it was Wolves who began the game looking like the team who could go top, as City struggled to get going.
Fletcher fired a warning shot wide of Hart’s goal, before the City keeper was in action again to punch away a corner, knocking it out for a throw-in. And the visitors’ pressure paid off on 13 minutes, as a bit of pinball in the City box from a poor clearance by Kolo Touré left Milijas to tap the ball into the net.
Fletcher then could have doubled the lead with a free header, but it was straight at Hart, as the City fans began to wonder whether the home side were going to turn up. They then had another heart-in-the-mouth moment, as Kolarov had to throw himself in front of a shot to prevent what looked to be a certain goal, as Wolves capitalised on a sloppy pass.
City tried to get themselves back into the game, but it didn’t seem to be happening, as Tevez looked for Johnson, but he was flagged offside, before it was roles reversed, as Tevez almost flicked a Johnson cross goalward. Tevez was almost in again seconds later, but Hennessey was down quickly before him.
Tevez then had a go from range and it wasn’t far away from finding the top corner – Hennessey was beaten, but so was the crossbar, as City still struggled to look dangerous.
With half time quickly approaching, Dzeko had a shot deflected wide and City sent the big men forward for the corner. It found its way to Kolo Touré at the back post and he took a touch, before firing a shot at goal. Hennessey saved, but was unlucky to see it bounce off Jones and into the back of the net.
Kolarov could have put City in front at the break, but his effort from a long way out was just about spooned around the post by Hennessey, as, from nowhere, City finished the half on top.
And it was almost as if a completely different City team came out for the second half. The team that had struggled to pick passes, to find room for a shot and had been bossed at their own game by the visitors was gone and a team that looked dangerous had replaced them.
With just five minutes of the half played, a great piece of individual skill put City in front. It was the captain, Tevez, who picked up the ball just inside the box, beat two defenders to get himself a one-on-one, before sliding it under the goalkeeper and City looked to have put their poor first half showing behind them.
Three minutes later, it got better with a clinical breakaway. Tevez slipped the ball to Dzeko on the left and he cut inside to find some space, and placed a deft pass in to Yaya Touré, putting him through on goal. Touré made no mistake and slotted it into the net, to give City a two goal advantage.
As the hour mark approached, Zubar hit the bar for Wolves, leaving Hart beaten with a fierce header from a corner and reminding the home fans that the game wasn’t over. Then a great piece of skill from Dzeko had the fans on their feet, as he turned one challenge and nutmegged a defender to set up another attack.
Dzeko then had a shot deflected just wide, as it looked like it was going to sneak in at the near post, before City added to their lead. The corner was flicked clear as far as Zabaleta who, as it looked like he might have a go from the edge of the box, chipped it back in to Tevez, unmarked, and he nodded it home off the underside of the crossbar.
But, almost immediately, Wolves had a chance to reduce the deficit. Lescott with a clear foul in the box gave Doyle the penalty kick and he fired it home, sending Hart the wrong way and, with over 20 minutes to play, the visitors began to believe they could get back into the game.
A late flag for an offside on Dzeko left the City fans fuming as it looked like he was going to get on and score, before Yaya Touré should have finished the game off, capitalising on a mistake in midfield that left him clean through on goal. But, as he tried to add to his goal tally, Hennessey stuck out a knee and knocked the ball wide.
Though, with four minutes to play, the visitors set the game up for a grandstand finish. Zubar found himself space inside the City box and had a free header from a left wing corner – Hart was beaten and Kolarov thought he’d hacked it off the line, but the linesman said otherwise and awarded the goal.
With four of five added minutes played, Wolves came within inches of an equaliser as a shot was deflected past Hart, who was left helpless, but, fortunately for City, it was just wide of the post. Milner then almost finished the game, after Hennessey had been playing in midfield, as he raced on to a Hart clearance, took it around the goalkeeper, but it was cleared off the line.
There was no time to take the corner and City were hanging on, despite having been three goals in front in the second half, but they did enough to take the points and spend Saturday evening on the top of the Premier League.