Football: Sterling Silva

Football: Sterling Silva
TERRIFIC: The pace of Raheem Sterling and the ingenuity of David Silva (near left) are among the reasons Manchester City have a perfect start to the season.
PHOTO: AFP

The bookies might stop taking bets by Christmas. Manchester City may close the book before Santa Claus opens his sack.

Three games, three victories and no goals conceded tell part of the story. Their professionalism explains the rest.

Manuel Pellegrini's men showed skill and intelligence to suppress Everton's resistance, putting the home side down with a precise 2-0 win in a robust English Premier League encounter last night.

It's the kind of win that culminates in an open-top bus parade around the city centre in May.

The City lights are shining brightest in the Premiership right now, none more so than the ageless David Silva and the newcomer Raheem Sterling.

If they're not quite Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, they're certainly the brilliant and the bright, dragging their teammates from the distant shadows of last season.

Both laid down a template that must terrify the title-chasers. City are going to take some beating this season.

Having dismembered Chelsea a week ago, they brought their blades to Goodison Park. Everton appeared ripe for a massacre.

Tim Howard was forced into a pair of smart saves within nine minutes from Sergio Aguero as Silva ran riot in the early exchanges. Pellegrini has procrastinated with his most prized artist in the last couple of years, but the Spaniard can only play in one position - any position. Nominally a No. 10, he drifted towards the right to assist Jesus Navas in taking Everton's left-back Brendan Galloway to school.

The promising, young Englishman is only 19, but appeared to age a decade when he came off just before half-time with an injury.

On a night when sport in its purest sense triumphed over cynicism, with Usain Bolt defeating Justin Gatlin in the 100m world championship, City demonstrated a similarly Bolt-like purpose - fast, exhilarating and decisive.

Sterling's role cannot be underestimated. He grew into the game as the balance of play shifted towards City's left, but a goal proved hard to come by.

If anything, the home side were slightly unlucky not to be ahead at half-time.

Romelu Lukaku kissed the bar with a free-kick and also had a goal ruled out for offside. The decision was marginal - so was Lukaku for much of the game.

An away goal seemed inevitable; particularly when the irrepressible Silva smashed a shot against the post in the 47th minute after terrific support work from Sterling.

The Everton faithful booed the £49-million ($107m) man whenever he was in possession, an odd choice considering Sterling left the loathed Reds of Merseyside.

He rose to the occasion, cheeks puffing, chest swelling, growing in stature.

After an hour, the Toffees were dangling above the abyss, hanging on by a single fingernail when Sterling and Silva finally combined to stomp out the resistance.

Silva wriggled free on the left and found Sterling, who threaded the tiniest of needles to find the overlapping Aleksandar Kolarov with a no-look pass.

City's left-back reached the byeline and shaped to cross, long enough for Howard to take half a step away from the near post. The move proved fatal.

Kolarov's reading of the tightest angle belonged on a billiards table. He whipped a shot just inside the post.

Howard failed to mind the gap. The redoubtable goalkeeper will make amends.

The growing gap in the Premier League may prove less bridgeable. City are taking on the guise of an early steamroller, with Sterling at the steering wheel.

His standing ovation when he was substituted in the 75th minute was deserved. Sterling kept Seamus Coleman busy, but his contribution to the team ethic was greater.

City are sharper, faster and more fluent after just three games than at any part of their previous campaign.

Even Vincent Kompany performed with the urgency of a man on a mission to prove that the last, wretched season was an anomaly rather than the new normal.

The skipper's volleyed clearance off the line to keep out Barry's header in the 79th minute was as athletic as it was symbolic. Kompany's game has taken off again.

In the 88th minute, Samir Nasri pulled off a chip of such sumptuous quality all that was missing was the sand wedge to add a lovely gloss to the performance.

It was an exquisite goal to end a perfect day.

So far, City are the only side that have turned up for the Premier League party.

npsports@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 24, 2015.
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