HULL CITY 0, MANCHESTER CITY 2
David Silva put a smile back on City faces with a magical performance to ensure that Manchester City ended a difficult week with three points and their Premier League destiny still in their own hands despite the sending off of captain Vincent Kompany in the tenth minute. Goals by Silva and Edin Dzeko capped a disciplined and spirited display by City as they played with ten men for most of the game and defeated a Hull side who could not beat the offside flag for most of their chances.
The win puts City back up to second place as they closed the gap to Chelsea at the top of the Barclays Premier League to six points prior to their title rivals’ game at Aston Villa.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini declared it was one of City’s best performances this season in describing the way that they overcame an early blow to win the game:
“It was a very good response in a very difficult week. We have just lost against Barcelona so we needed to win today.
“Playing with one player less for 80 minutes was very difficult but I think that we did a very good performance. Not only because we defended well with and without the ball but we also attacked a lot and had three or four chances to score more goals.
“It’s clear that before the foul by Kompany there was a foul by Jelavic. The referee didn’t see the first foul so Kompany was the last man and got the red card but there was a clear foul before that.
Slow motion replays during the game showed that a clash between Joe Hart and Hull substitute George Boyd could have paralleled the March 1 meeting of heads between Boyd’s team-mate David Meyler and Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew during a Premier League game. This time, Boyd appeared to spit at Hart and the City goalkeeper seemed to move his head towards the Hull man after a controversial moment when Boyd appeared to dive to try and win a penalty.
Pellegrini claimed that he did not get a good view of a second half incident between Joe Hart and George Boyd.
“It’s impossible from my position to see the other side of the pitch and Joe had his back to me. I’m not sure what happened but I don’t want to talk about the referee.
“My team had a very good response in a difficult week, playing very well.
“We tried to respond in the same way that we did before. We haven’t played in the Premier League for three weeks. The other teams have won their points so it was important today to win the three points.”
City’s bad week, after an FA Cup and Champions League exit in the space of four days, looked to be getting worse after just ten minutes of their first Barclays Premier League game in three weeks.
Manuel Pellegrini made four changes from the side that last in Barcelona, with Gael Clichy, Martin Demichelis, Edin Dzeko, and Javi Garcia coming in for Aleksander Kolarov, Joleon Lescott, Sergio Aguero and James Milner.
Kompany had admitted there was “nothing left in the tank” after the defeat in Barcelona and for a while it seemed like the Barcelona hangover would continue after the opening minutes in Hull.
Hull striker Nikica Jelavic had been tasked to get on the end of early long balls forward as manager Steve Bruce opted to try and exploit Demichelis’ lack of pace. City would go on to see plenty of early passes and crosses from their hosts to test their resolve in defence although the Tigers were generally wasteful with their chances or drew an early offside flag through poor decision making.
Nine points behind Chelsea with three games in hand, the heat was on when Vincent Kompany dwelled on the ball and was caught by surprise by Jelavic who had arrived quickly to close him down. Kompany fell to the ground under pressure from the Croat striker who tried to go round him and was then hauled down by the Belgian who tried to reach the loose ball first.
Referee Lee Mason had no hesitation but to send off the City captain – who was last man – despite his protestations about being fouled first. Kompany was livid at his dismissal and left his mark on the Hull tunnel wall with a well aimed kick as he stormed back to the dressing room. Kompany could stand to miss next weekend’s game against Fulham at the Etihad.
Garcia had to drop into defence to fill the gap left by the departed City skipper as City reorganised the defence to cope. City began to play a deeper line which ironically better suited Demichelis and Garcia’s relative lack of pace.
Silva gave City something to hold on to four minutes later when he collected the ball off Yaya Toure and curled in a sumptuous curled strike which beat Allan McGregor to put City 1-0 up.
City could have extended their lead after 31 minutes Silva supplied Pablo Zabaleta whose the dipping shot came off the underside the bar, bounced on the line and out with McGregor beaten.
Silva was a danger throughout the game but Hull could have been down to ten men themselves but a dangerous looking tackle on the Spaniard by Ahmed Elmohamady was only punished with a booking.
With City defending deeper, Hull City’s early crosses forward were becoming an issue. David Meyler’s own eventful week had threatened to continue after he stabbed a flick-on past Hart in the 36th minute but there was a clear offside in the build-up.
the Tigers were struggling to make the breakthrough and continued to fall victim to the offside flag in the second half. Substitute George Boyd resorted to diving over the outstretched leg of Hart who was booked for his vociferous and angry response in confronting Boyd for his dive.
The dive seemed to work against Boyd who might have won a legitimate, if very soft, penalty minutes later when he was pushed in the area by Fernandinho while jumping for the ball.
Fernandinho could have doubled City’s lead with 18 minutes to go when Silva’s shot was blocked and the rebound fell into his path but the Brazil midfielder could only stab his shot wide.
Hull put more attacking players on in search of an equaliser, ending the game with four strikers on the pitch, and Jelavic could have scored with five minutes to go but for a smart save by Hart.
Dzeko forced a save from McGregor in the 86th minute after Clichy’s cross put him clean through but the Bosnian finally sealed the points in the 90th minute when Silva laid on the ball to the big front man to finish left footed for his first goal in nine games since January 29.