EPL: Man City limp to victory

A goalscoring chance came Hull City's way early in the match to suggest that Manchester City would be in for a long slog.

And it turned out to be just that. In the end, Manuel Pellegrini's men clinched a 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to return to winning ways, with Alvaro Negredo and Yaya Toure coming to their rescue in the second half.

But not before Hull threatened to dish out another major embarrassment in a David versus Goliath clash at the Etihad Stadium.

If Man City had learnt their lessons in last week's 3-2 loss to newly-promoted Cardiff City, they failed to show it for more than an hour of the match.

Hull took just seven minutes to serve up images of that defeat, and what could go possibly wrong for a team which began the season trumpeting their silverware chances.

Sone Aluko raced to meet Man City goalkeeper Joe Hart one-on-one, but alas, he could only drag his shot wide.

A haul of five trophies in five seasons is the target set for Pellegrini, but he will now do well to just negotiate the first month of his Premiership career with his health intact.

Man City clocked a performance nowhere near as convincing as the scoreline suggested.

In fact, just four minutes after Aluko let the hosts off the hook, Hull got the ball in the net. Striker Danny Graham thought he had ended a 1,067-minute drought in Premiership football when he slid in Robert Brady's cross, but the referee correctly ruled his effort for offside.

And so the Citizens survived another scare, as home fans clung on to fading memories of that superb performance against Newcastle which gave them a 4-0 victory in the opening game. Hull, like Cardiff, may be still coming to grips with life in the top flight after gaining promotion from the second tier.

Yet, the underdogs showed that ability counts for nothing if there isn't the fighting spirit to match. Inspired by Cardiff's unlikely triumph, the Tigers turned up with hope in their hearts and swagger in their boots.

Man City struggled to stamp their authority as they should have. With every stray pass and missed chance, the tension among the home crowd heightened.

Hull's confidence, organisation and discipline were top-notch, and their insistence on sticking to a passing game was even more admirable. Pellegrini's frustration in the first half of the game was clear as he sat in the dugout.

At one point, he looked down at the grass, as he ran his right thumb and index finger across his eyebrows and down the bridge of his nose.

He looked downcast, even baffled. A solution was nowhere to be seen in the dugout. No one in blue on the field, at that point, looked capable of providing one.

Halftime called for a Plan B. And the Chilean finally pulled off the winning trick. Replacing the ineffective Edin Dzeko with Alvaro Negredo, City improved.

As it turned out, Negredo's sharpness in front of goal proved to be the difference between the two sides.

Showing why he is regarded as one of the best headers of the ball, he timed his run perfectly to meet a Pablo Zabaleta cross and give Man City the lead in the 65th minute.

Toure's free-kick goal close to the end was a bonus the hosts didn't deserve.

Man City came off winners but Hull earned all the plaudits.

Toure was to later give a post-match interview that paid compliments to Steve Bruce's warriors. He said: "They (Hull) controlled the game, and they moved very well. They played very well."

If you had heard only the audio of the clip, and not watched the match, you would have imagined that it was a Hull player talking about City, instead. Man City can do better than this, and they have to.

Flaccid performances such as this will win them nothing come the end of the season.


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