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
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.
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.