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Man City v Hull City – August 31st 2013

Man City v Hull City – August 31st 2013

Alvaro Negredo scores

Manchester City eventually saw off a dogged Hull City at Etihad Stadium, but this was a far from convincing performance by the hosts.

Substitute Alvaro Negredo headed home just after the hour mark before Yaya Toure curled in a delightful late free-kick, but City were well below their best throughout this frantic encounter.

 Hull had the better chances in the first half, with Sone Aluko going closest as he fired wide with only goalkeeper Joe Hart to beat.

And although City improved after the break, with Toure adding a late gloss to the scoreline, Hull will feel unlucky not to have gained a point.

The emphatic nature of City’s opening weekend victory over Newcastle must have felt like a distant memory to their fans as they trailed away from the stadium after a nervy afternoon.

The result aside, this was a display which epitomised City’s faltering start under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

If the hosts had hoped for a gentle lunchtime stroll, a hatful of goals and three easy points, they quickly discovered this would be anything but.

Last weekend’s shock 3-2 defeat by Cardiffhad been a reminder to them that no Premier League fixture can be taken for granted.

Tactically smart, Hull’s work-rate was also admirable, their players often doubling up on City’s main threats Toure and David Silva. Sergio Aguero also found he had unwelcome, unstinting company.

But Hull were not content to merely sit back and defend in numbers. At times they were progressive, creating a series of first-half opportunities they went on to squander, letting City and Pellegrini off the hook.

Aluko had the best of them, dancing delightfully beyond the ponderous Joleon Lescott only to roll his shot just wide of the right-hand post with only Hart to beat.

Robert Koren drilled a low volley narrowly wide, while Danny Graham had a goal correctly ruled out for offside.

With their captain Vincent Kompany watching from the stands because of a groin injury,City once again looked vulnerable defensively and short of ideas in possession.

Toure headed over, Aguero and Aleksander Kolarov forced goalkeeper Allan McGregor into action but the hosts lacked control, creativity and class.

Five years ago, this fixture made the headlines when a furious Phil Brown, then boss of the Tigers, infamously delivered his half-time team-talk on the pitch.

This was a very different story, though, with any half-time dressing down far more likely to have taken taken place in the home dressing room.

Hull continued to threaten after the break, Graham firing over after more confusion in the City defence, but the introduction of Negredo did give City a cutting edge.

Within minutes of his introduction he had headed wide with only McGregor to beat. Jesus Navas then volleyed wide as City began to show signs of life and Hull began to feel the pace after an hour of incessant chasing and total commitment.

There was now more fluidity to City’s passing and a move more incisive than any they had produced during the opening 45 minutes produced the breakthrough.

Aguero combined with Navas wide on the right flank and Negredo rose highest to head in Pablo Zabaleta’s cross from close range.

The relief was palpable, both for Pellegrini and the City fans, but there was still work to do.

Hull continued to push and it was not until Toure strode forward in the 89th minute to curl a wonderful free-kick up and over the wall and beyond McGregor that they finally relaxed.

Hull manager Steve Bruce:

“I couldn’t have wished for a better performance. I thought we were terrific all afternoon and had probably more chances than the last four or five visits I’ve had here, so you have to take them.

“You know that Achilles heel we have got – can we score? We’ve had really good possession, played well, created the chances, but can we score the goal? Unfortunately, we’ve created enough but we haven’t been able to score and that’s the difference at this level.

LINEUP, BOOKINGS (5) & SUBSTITUTIONS (5)

Manchester City

  • 01 Hart
  • 05 Zabaleta
  • 06 Lescott
  • 13 Kolarov
  • 33 Nastasic Booked
  • 15 Navas
  • 16 Aguero (Milner – 76′ )
  • 21 Silva (Nasri – 66′ )
  • 25 Fernandinho Booked
  • 42 Toure
  • 10 Dzeko (Negredo – 46′ )

Substitutes

  • 30 Pantilimon
  • 22 Clichy
  • 07 Milner
  • 08 Nasri
  • 14 Garcia
  • 09 Negredo
  • 35 Jovetic

Hull City

  • 01 McGregor
  • 03 Figueroa Booked
  • 05 Chester
  • 06 Davies Booked
  • 27 Elmohamady
  • 08 Huddlestone
  • 11 Brady
  • 14 Livermore
  • 24 Aluko (Quinn – 70′ )
  • 09 Graham
  • 10 Koren Booked (Boyd – 75′ )

Substitutes

  • 22 Harper
  • 02 Rosenior
  • 04 Bruce
  • 15 McShane
  • 07 Meyler
  • 17 Boyd
  • 29 Quinn
Ref: Dowd
Att: 46,903

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