Saturday, 15 January 2011

City 4 - 3 Wolves

  • A victory entirely at odds with the Roberto Mancini approach but all the more interesting for it. Home form has been a problem this year, but this was a match of a different category from the recent stumbles against Blackburn, Birmingham and Everton; too many goals, rather than too few. It had a taunting echo of the famous 3-3 draw with Burnley in November 2009: the team with the worst away record in the league coming to Eastlands, going ahead early, before City take the lead with goals either side of half time. There was a late City implosion, a soft penalty conceded by Joleon Lescott and a goal from Steven Fletcher to fill the similarities out. Incongruous given the standards that Mancini has set at City, though enjoyable in its own way.
  • We certainly started the game the right way: with half an hour of the most pathetic, arrogant football we've played this season. The start against Everton was bad, but this was worse; Wolves only scored one but could have got two or three. They pressed us vigorously, with Fletcher and Kevin Doyle up front, and we could barely get our feet on the ball. Wolves' goal came with Kolo Touré hammering the ball into Vincent Kompany, and Nenad Milijaš tapping it in. It was nearly 0-2, and just as it looked like it could dip into disaster we recovered. Maybe Wolves tired out, but we started to press and keep the ball, with Carlos Tévez (in the David Silva role) and Aleksandar Kolarov the most important players. There was a sense that an equaliser before the break would change the game, and it came, Kolo bundling in a corner at the far post. Ugly, arguably lucky but certainly crucial.
  • So the atmosphere for the second half was very different from how it might have been. Tévez encapsulated and further catalysed this when he scored one of the best solo goals at Eastlands this season, jinking past defenders before slotting the ball in for a 2-1 lead. Once ahead, we could finally play with real confidence and verve, and the third came soon after: Tévez to Džeko to Yaya and the conversion of an enjoyably crisp and swift counter-attack. City were playing very well and the third came soon after; a corner broke to Pablo Zabaleta who clipped a cross to the near post, where Tévez headed in his second off the underside of the bar. 4-1, and safe enough.
  • But then it all went surprisingly Mark Hughes. Joleon Lescott conceded the softest of penalties (kicking Doyle in the ankle when he had his back to goal), before we conceded from a corner with five minutes left. It was nervous, as these things always are, but with a few substitutes on we had enough to hold on for the victory. Top, by a point, having played three more games more than United, admittedly. If we play like this every week we won't win anything, but the way we jumped out of uselessness into forty minutes of excellent football does suggest that there is a solidity and adaptability to this side that not all have noticed.

No comments: