Hull City 0 Manchester City 2

FA Premier League
Saturday 15 March 2014, 12.45 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy, Garcia, Fernandinho, Toure (Lescott 71), Nasri (Navas 81), Silva (Kolarov 90), Dzeko
Unused: Pantilimon, Milner, Rodwell, Negredo
Goals: Silva (14), Dzeko (90)
Booked: Zabaleta, Hart
Sent Off: Kompany

Referee: Lee Mason
Man of the Match: Javi Garcia

Nasri takes on Figueroa.

Nasri takes on Figueroa.

City’s hopes of an easy afternoon following a disappointing week were always going to be a pipe dream, with a visit to Hull a potential banana skin to slip on. And it didn’t get off to the best start for the away side, who found themselves a man down after just ten minutes. Kompany was given his marching orders after Jelavic stole the ball and the captain pulled him back when clean through on goal – the Belgian felt he was fouled, but the referee disagreed and sent him to the stands.

But the visitors didn’t let the red card affect them: Four minutes later, they were in the lead. After riding pressure from the hosts, City broke down the other end of their first attack since losing a man. Toure found Silva on the edge of the box and, after cutting back inside onto his left, the Spaniard fired a delightful shot into the corner of the net, leaving McGregor with no chance.

Despite being down a man, it was the Blues who were looking the more likely to score the next goal, too. Hull had dominated possession, but hadn’t been able to test Hart, when Zabaleta unleashed a blistering shot for the top corner. It smashed into the underside of the bar and dropped down onto the line, before bouncing out.

City weren’t happy with the referee shortly after, as he showed Elmohamady a yellow card for a nasty challenge on Silva – with studs showing, he caught the midfielder on the shin – and it could easily have been a red. Hull had the ball in City’s net a moment later, after the Blues made nothing of the free kick, but there was an offside in the build-up and Meyler’s brilliant finish didn’t stand.

Silva opens the scoring.

Silva opens the scoring.

The visitors were playing a very organised game at the back since the red card and that showed early in the second half. Time after time, the Blues held their line well on the edge of the box to catch Hull forwards offside and it helped the away side ease the early pressure.

Long stung Hart’s fingers with an effort from range, before Jelavic tried to turn a low free kick around the corner and into the net, but he couldn’t connect well enough to divert the ball. Huddlestone curled a free kick into the middle, but the goalkeeper was also there to gather.

With 70 minutes on the clock, there was more controversy. Boyd looked to go around Hart and hit the deck as the goalkeeper challenged. There was no touch and the Hull man dived, but wasn’t shown a yellow card by the referee – in the resulting altercation, Hart reacted angrily and, as the two came together, Boyd appeared to spit in the goalkeeper’s face. Somehow, it was only City’s number one who saw yellow.

A minute later, Fernandinho should have doubled City’s lead as a deflected shot fell into his path on the edge of the six-yard box. In on goal, he scuffed his effort wide – and it could have been costly as Jelavic won a header in the visitors’ box, but Hart got up well to collect it.

Three minutes from the end, Dzeko should have sealed victory. Silva played a beautiful pass inside to send the Bosnian clean through on goal – but one-on-one with the goalkeeper, his effort lacked conviction and power, and McGregor blocked well at the striker’s feet.

However, as the clock ticked to 90, Dzeko got a second chance to seal the points and this one he took. Silva was again involved as he played an even better pass to send the striker clear. This time, he passed the ball around the goalkeeper on his left foot, and, with stoppage time approaching, confirmed the victory.

It was a tough afternoon for the Blues, but they coped well – especially played a man down for 80 minutes.

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Manchester City 2 Hull City 0

FA Premier League
Saturday 31 August 2013, 12.45 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Nastasic, Lescott, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Toure (c), Silva (Nasri 66), Aguero (Milner 75), Dzeko (Negredo 45), Navas
Unused: Pantilimon, Clichy, Garcia, Jovetic
Goals: Negredo (65), Toure (90)
Booked: Fernandinho, Nastasic

Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the Match: Jesus Navas

Hull1

Silva is strong against Huddlestone.

Just what the doctor ordered a week after losing unexpectedly to a newly promoted team: Another newly promoted team, but one who built their previous season’s success on steady 1-0 wins. A mean defence and a squad happy to press the ball. The perfect remedy for a City side a bit shaken for confidence. Your sarcasm detector might have broken already…

After a disappointing weekend, the Blues needed a quick start and to be out of the blocks with some early pressure – maybe even an early goal. But it was the visitors who were preying on the hosts’ vulnerability: Graham nearly latched on to a ball over the top, but Aluko missed the golden chance – a one-on-one with Hart, after a mix-up between Nastasic and Lescott.

The linesman’s flag was what saved City from falling behind next. A ball across the back four was missed by everybody but Graham, who slid it into the net past the despairing Hart dive. But it was offside. Just.

Tentatively, the home side responded with some chances of their own. Dzeko met a Navas corner to force McGregor to parry wide and had Lescott’s header been either side of the goalkeeper, it would likely have been the opening goal. As it was, he was able to tip it over the bar.

But after the Tigers had ridden the City reply, the game settled into a gritty pattern. The home side had a lot of the ball, but struggled to use it, while the visitors were wasteful with their passing on the break. On the stroke of half time, Yaya Toure missed a free header from inside the box – and the home side should have gone in a goal up.

Substitute Negredo got his angles all wrong when he was gifted a free header in the opening stages of the second half – a delivery from the right was met by the Spaniard, but he headed well wide.

But any fans hoping that would swing the tie City’s way would have been disappointed. Zabaleta’s miscued header fell to Graham, but his effort was well over the bar. Hart showed neat footwork to evade Aluko, as the Hull man chased him down.

Hull2

Navas tries a spectacular volley.

As the hour mark approached, the home side were improving and getting closer. Navas had a volley wide, while a well-rehearsed free kick found Lescott free at the back-post, but his header across goal was deflected behind. And, as Nasri’s introduction seemed imminent, the hosts took the lead.

A breakaway, led by Navas and Aguero found Zabaleta on the right flank. He got the ball across from deep and early, allowing Negredo to leap higher than any of the visiting defence. He met it and nodded past the star jump of McGregor, straight into the net.

Navas found Nastasic from a free kick, but the Serbian could only find the gloves of McGregor, as the home side looked to put the game to bed. And it was getting nervy – as Kolarov was the wrong side of Boyd, but it took a great challenge for the left-back to recover inside his own box. Two great punches from Hart also cleared the box, as the keeper relieved some of the pressure.

The ultimate relief, though, came from the captain. Nasri was felled on the edge of the box as the game headed for stoppage time. With Toure and Kolarov over it, it was the Ivorian who curled the ball into the top corner – in off the underside of the bar, as the defender on the line could do nothing.

It was far from a classic City performance, but a win’s a win after all.