MANCHESTER CITY 2 HULL CITY 0
City were made to toil for their 2-0 win at the Etihad after Hull tried to follow Cardiff’s example from last week hoping to catch a City side still feeling low after defeat at the Cardiff City Stadium last week. Second half goals by Alvaro Negredo and Yaya Toure finally put down the Tigers’ attack in injury time as the home side’s quality shone through.
“The most important thing was the three points today and the next most important thing was a clean sheet for our defence.” declared manager Manuel Pellegrini after City’s struggle to beat Hull City today.
“Maybe there was a lack of confidence since the last game in Cardiff.” admitted the Chilean. “In every match we must concentrate 100%.
“I’m not surprised at Hull, they are a good team. I was not convinced that 4-0 against Newcastle United was the reality of the Premier League either. I never expected every game would be like the one against Newcastle. We can’t win every match 4 or 5 nil with no problems.
Despite the patchy quality of City’s performance today, Pellegrini praised Alvaro Negredo for his excellent cameos so far this season and was sure that he would get a start soon.
“He scored a legal goal against Newcastle, even though it was not valid. He scored with just a few minutes on the pitch against Cardiff and again in 45 minutes today. He’s a very important player for us.
With key players out injured and returning from injury, Pellegrini admitted that City could see a new signing on Monday but refused to comment on rumours about a bid for Atletico Madrid’s veteran defender Martin Demichelis or about the future of players like Gareth Barry.
“We have played only three games so far and now we have an international break. We will play eight matches every month after that so everyone will get a chance with squad rotation.
“All players have a future here – we have 23 players in the squad. We have a lot of players who can play in midfield for example. Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell, and Gareth Barry. It’s impossible for every player to play.”
Hull City were another of the promoted sides and, like Cardiff before them, had the better of the opening exchanges and City appeared to be suffering a hang-over from last week’s shock defeat at Cardiff.
City had made only two changes from the side that lost at Cardiff, with Matija Nastasic fit enough to return and replace makeshift defender Javi Garcia at the centre of defence with Aleksandar Kolarov handed a rare chance to impress at left back in place of Gael Clichy. New signing Stevan Jovetic was fit enough to be named on the bench.
Despite the defensive reshuffle, City remained tentative at the back with Joleon Lescott responsible for several early howlers as Hull tried to emulate the intensity that Cardiff had last week. Sone Aluko spurned a golden opportunity to open the scoring after just 7 minutes when he escaped the attentions of Lescott and went clean through but Joe Hart made himself big and put off the Nigerian international who put his shot wide.
City had a let-off when Danny Graham was a yard offside as he finished Robbie Brady’s cross just four minutes later and Robert Koren’s left footed long range effort later in the first half was narrowly wide as the Tigers launched themselves at the home defence before the break.
For all their efforts to try and penetrate the Tigers’ defence, City were not making much headway, a combination of aimless long balls and organised Hull defending coupled with timely fouls thwarted the City rhythm. Yaya Toure and Fernandinho seemed reluctant to commit to attack with the latter responsible for giving the ball away as City struggled to compete with Hull during the first half.
Negredo was introduced at half time for Edin Dzeko and he soon had a chance with a header provided by David Silva but he nodded his free header well wide.
Silva was becoming more influential and his cut-back gave Jesus Navas the space to try a volley which went wide.
Graham and Aluko continued to provide a goal threat for Hull City though, with a couple of real chances going begging before both were withdrawn late in the game as the Tigers tired.
City finally got the better of their visitors as they ran themselves out when Pablo Zabaleta’s cross was met with a firm header by Negredo past Allan McGregor in the 65th minute. The relief at the Etihad was palpable.
The Tigers’ continued to test City’s defence, however, and weren’t truly out of the game until injury time when Samir Nasri was fouled outside the Hull area in front of the ‘D’ and Yaya Toure stepped up to curl another exquisite free kick past McGregor and the retreating Ahmed Elmohamady and in off the underside of the crossbar to finally make the points safe.