Saturday 23 September 2017

City stumble to top after Wolves rollercoaster

Man City 4 Wolves 3

Edin Dzeko did not manage to score on his debut, but he showed plenty of promise and will have a much clearer idea now of what Manchester City are all about.

His new side played like strangers in the first half, went a goal behind, then enjoyed just about the better of a slapstick seven-goal share-out to climb to the top of the Premier League table.

If tables never lie, perhaps this one is being economical with the truth. City are top by virtue of having played three games more than Manchester United and on this evidence do not have the defence or the concentration required to stay there. "We must improve, and stop making mistakes in the last 10 minutes," Roberto Mancini said.

"When you lead 4-1 after 70 minutes you must control the game better. We lost concentration because we thought it was finished, but it is never finished here."

Accommodating their £27m signing from Wolfsburg meant David Silva and James Milner were among those missing out, which meant City's bench alone was worth over £100m. The entire Wolves squad cost only a fraction of that, of course, not that anyone would have guessed in the first half-hour. The visitors gave City a passing lesson, easily finding their way through the backline and its two defensive shields and making the home side's attempts to get forward look clumsy. It was no surprise when Wolves went in front in the 12th minute; the only mystery was how they failed to add to their lead before City got back on level terms.

Nenad Milijas, a constructive midfield influence all afternoon, scored the opening goal after a comedy of errors in the City defence. Matt Jarvis's cross from the right was first deflected off Gareth Barry, then Kolo Toure's attempted clearance struck Vincent Kompany, and though Joe Hart kept out Milijas's first effort, he was unable to reach the Serb's follow-up.

The former Red Star Belgrade player also headed a decent chance straight at Hart, before excellent interplay between Stephen Hunt and Steven Fletcher on the left set up a shooting opportunity for Jarvis, only for the winger to see Aleksandar Kolarov fling himself in the way of a goalbound effort. By this stage Dzeko must have been wondering what sort of team he had joined, particularly when he found Carlos Tevez with an astute pass and saw the City captain waste a good position with a heavy first touch.

City did manage to get more into the game as the interval approached, Adam Johnson bringing a save from Wayne Hennessey and Tevez going close with a pot shot from distance, and eventually drew level from a corner earned when a Dzeko shot was blocked. The cross came through to Kolo Toure at the far post, who had time to hit a low shot so firmly it found the net through Hunt, Hennessey and David Jones.

The second half was a different story once City went ahead a couple of minutes after the restart; it was a different trio of Wolves players left flat-footed as Tevez went on a Diego Maradona-type surge to score.

Picking up the ball from a throw-in, Tevez burst into the area and between Christophe Berra and Hunt, before slaloming past Richard Stearman to slot a low shot beyond Hennessey. It was quite a goal; even Mick McCarthy said so.

"I'm not going blame the defenders, the little fella runs at you, he's got great feet, and it was a brilliant goal," the Wolves manager said. "It was the defending at the corner for their equaliser that made me ill. That and the fact we should have been further ahead at that stage."

Dzeko took a return pass from Tevez and came up with an inspired through ball of his own to allow Yaya Toure to run on and score a third before the captain made it four by heading Pablo Zabaleta's cross in off the underside of the bar from six yards. That should have been that, but Joleon Lescott stupidly climbed all over Kevin Doyle -- even Mancini conceded it was stupid -- to concede a penalty from which the Wolves striker pulled a goal back.

City withdrew Tevez and Johnson to milk the crowd's applause, then ended up hanging on nervily after Yaya Toure missed a golden opportunity and Ronald Zubar brought Wolves right back into the game with a header from a Hunt corner.

Had the same player earlier found the net, not the bar, City might have had to settle for a draw. Not many teams go top of the table by conceding three goals at home, but given time Dzeko will probably get used to it.

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