MANCHESTER CITY 3, WOLVES 1
A late flourish from Manchester City kept the Wolves at bay after they threatened to cause a massive upset at the Etihad Stadium.
Second half goals from Edin Dzeko, Aleksandar Kolarov, and Adam Johnson kept City five points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League but Mick McCarthy’s side scored a penalty through Stephen Hunt and captain Vincent Kompany’s red card ensured that City had to fight until the end to earn their points.
Roberto Mancini was already wary of taking Wolves too lightly after City had scored 11 goals in two away games this week. The Italian opted for only three changes from the team which beat Manchester United 6-1 at Old Trafford last Sunday.
Aleksandar Kolarov, Samir Nasri, and Edin Dzeko came in for Gael Clichy, James Milner and Mario Balotelli.
The City manager said: “It was important to beat Wolves today. It’s impossible to score four or five goals all of the time.
“After Manchester United I didn’t want us thinking that football was easy. In every game we should play at 100 per-cent.”
Mancini accepted referee Stuart Attwell’s decision to send off Vincent Kompany in the second half when he brought down Kevin Doyle as he chased down a rebound.
“Today we had many chances in the first half. After the sending off it was very difficult.”
After a week which saw City score 11 goals and produce free flowing attacking football away from home, there were high expectations at the Etihad Stadium as City faced a much changed Wolves side looking to improve on their performance in midweek.
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy was proud of his team’s application despite the scoreline on Wednesday and the team he put out at the Etihad was no different.
He said: “I heard the crowd at half time, there was a lot of anxiety and frustration.
“For an away side to come off at half time and generate that atmosphere is good.”
“Wayne Hennessey (Wolves keeper) was fabulous. No recriminations from me on his part but it’s another mistake that’s let the opposition take the lead.
“I’m annoyed that we let them off the hook at the end.”
Their cause may have been inadvertantly aided by referee Stuart Attwell who drew the loudest jeers from home fans after an inconsistent performance which included missing a surefire penalty call had he spotted Richard Stearman with his arm around Dzeko’s neck in the area 10 minutes before half time.
Attwell was already the subject of the boo-boys as Wolves’ robust approach left City’s flair players, David Silva in particular, on the ground nursing painful knocks. With plenty of stoppages interrupting the first half it was hard to get any momentum going for either side.
Wolves had Hennessey to thank for his string of saves from a handful of goalbound City chances by Sergio Aguero and Dzeko as they tried to exert themselves but misplaced passes were also a symptom of the malaise that City seemed to be under as the visitors were let off the hook many more times. Even Silva was guilty of that sin as it seemed that ‘typical City’ had returned in a lacklustre first half.
Dzeko’s 52nd minute goal finally released the growing tension as he capitalised on Hennessey’s mistake to score the vital opening goal.
Aguero, full of running, closed down the Wolves keeper as he advanced to collect a back pass. He tried to clear the ball only for it to deflect off the Argentine striker and fall invitingly for Dzeko who had an open goal to pick his spot.
Fifteen minutes later Aleksandar Kolarov tapped in the loose ball after Hennessey had saved Silva’s goalbound effort but couldn’t hold on to it.
Wolves, however, had never given up throughout the game and pulled one back 16 minutes from time when Adlene Guedioura’s shot was saved by Joe Hart but Kevin Doyle was brought down by Vincent Kompany as he chased down the rebound.
The City captain was shown the red card and Hunt halved the deficit by sending Hart the wrong way for his penalty.
The visitors pushed for a point as they chose to go for it and it seemed as though 10-man City might wilt but deep into added time substitutes Balotelli and Adam Johnson helped to finally put City out of sight.
Balotelli had earlier wasted a golden opportunity when Aguero back-heeled a pass to him on the edge of the area before Kompany’s sending off, but the Italian skied a shot to his own disgust.
In added time with Wolves still chasing the equaliser, Balotelli worked hard to chase down a City clearance, robbed Roger Johnson in midfield, made space for himself and passed to Yaya Toure who laid off the ball to Johnson whose 30-yard curling effort gave Hennessey no chance.