FA Premier League
Monday 19 August 2013, 20.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c) (Garcia 71), Lescott, Clichy, Toure, Fernandinho, Silva (Negredo 80), Navas, Dzeko, Aguero (Nasri 62)
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Rodwell, Milner
Goals: Silva (6), Aguero (22), Toure (50), Nasri (75)
Booked: Dzeko, Fernandinho
Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the Match: Edin Dzeko
The new era at Manchester City began with a big win to take the club to the summit of the Premier League. In fact, Manuel Pellegrini couldn’t have asked for a better start – two chances in the opening six minutes and one of them finding the net. Dzeko would have opened the scoring in the opening couple of minutes but for the fingertips of Krul.
It was to be Dzeko who was the provider for Silva to net the first for the Blues under Pellegrini. His low cut-back deflected from Taylor and sat up nicely for the Spaniard to nod past the goalkeeper.
An equaliser wasn’t really forthcoming, despite some Newcastle pressure. Hart in the City goal was unworked, facing just two decent strikes all game: Ben Arfa fired just over from range and Tiote had a driven effort plucked from the air by the City keeper. It was probably going wide.
City were denied the chance to extend their lead further, as Newcastle struggled under the attacking force the hosts were putting them under. The visitors were let off the hook – albeit momentarily – as Toure broke into the box and appeared to be tugged down by Debuchy, but the referee didn’t point to the spot.
The inevitable second goal didn’t take much longer, though. Dzeko squandered another chance, skewing a header wide, before he again set up the Blues’ second. Kompany brought the ball out of defence and fed it into the Bosnian’s feet. His cute flick set Aguero through and, after taking it around Taylor, he found the bottom corner. Clinical.
Another penalty appeal for the hosts was turned down – probably correctly – by referee Andre Marriner, before any hope of Newcastle salvaging anything from the game was snuffed out. Aguero wanted a spot-kick when his shot struck the arm of Taylor, but it was that same arm that earned the defender a red card, as the two players clashed in stoppage time. The centre-back’s sending off was fully justified.
It was one-way traffic throughout the second half, as City looked to take advantage of their visitors’ poor fortunes. Dzeko was somehow denied by a fantastic Krul save, as the Bosnian was surely already celebrating when his header looked like it couldn’t miss. And then came the third break through: Toure curled a free kick into the top left corner, after Aguero was bodychecked on the edge of the box.
One of the few mysteries that will leave Pellegrini scratching his head is how Dzeko managed not to end up on the scoresheet. An blast from range was well touched around the post, another header flashed wide and a side-footed effort all stacked up on his tally of missed chances. It didn’t happen for the Bosnian, despite putting in an excellent shift.
A sour note came 20 minutes from the end, as the home side lost their captain to injury. Kompany slid in to dispossess Ameobi, breaking down the left flank, and he didn’t get up, immediately feeling his groin. He was immediately replaced and the armband moved to Toure.
And Newcastle’s miserable trip to the Etihad was complete 15 minutes from time. Substitute Nasri latched on to a loose ball in the middle of the pitch to set himself up with a one-on-one with Krul and, before the keeper could set himself, it was past him and into the net.
Navas continued to impress on the right wing with pace and a sublime touch, and, despite the game growing older and it meandering towards the final whistle, the Spaniard was still causing problems for the visiting defence with a number of excellent deliveries.
The only saving grace for the away side was that a linesman’s flag wrongly denied Negredo a debut goal. He was level with the ball when Garcia forced Krul into a good save from a corner, but the assistant disagreed and raised the flag, when the Spaniard knocked in the rebound.
All in all, it was a good opening weekend for the new City boss and he sees his side top of the table after his first managerial game in England. Not a bad day at the office, eh?