Thursday 14 December 2017

Clinical Aguero back with brace to extend City's perfect run

Swansea City 1 Manchester City 3

David Silva and Sergio Aguero celebrate a goal
David Silva and Sergio Aguero celebrate a goal
A delighted Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola during yesterday's match. Photo: Rebecca Naden/Reuters
Swansea City's Lukasz Fabianski and manager Francesco Guidolin leave the pitch at the end of the match. Photo: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters
Swansea City's Mike van der Hoorn fouls Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne giving away a a penalty. Photo: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

Stuart James

Manchester City made it a perfect 10 to continue their immaculate start to the season and take their run of successive victories into double figures, with Sergio Aguero carrying on where he left off prior to his suspension, although Pep Guardiola's side never had everything their own way on an afternoon when Swansea gave as good as they got for an hour.

The turning point was the penalty kick that Neil Swarbrick awarded in the second half, when the referee penalised Mike van der Hoorn, the Swansea centre-half, for an elbow on Kevin De Bruyne in the area. Aguero, who had given City the lead earlier, dispatched his kick to take his tally for the season to a remarkable 11 in six matches.

Swansea, who produced their best performance of the season at a time when Francesco Guidolin, their manager, needed it most, had levelled earlier in the game through an exquisite goal from Fernando Llorente, yet it was hard to see the home team responding for a second time. City instead added a third, when the rejuvenated Raheem Sterling ran half the length of the pitch before registering his fourth goal of the season.

The only bad news for Guardiola was the sight of De Bruyne pulling up nine minutes from time with what looked like a hamstring injury, meaning that the Belgium international is unlikely to feature in the Champions League fixture against Celtic next week.

While it was easy to think that Aguero's opening goal would pave the way for City to take control of the game, that was certainly not the case.

Swansea's response was terrific - and not just in terms of Llorente's wonderful goal. Playing with the belief and conviction that has been so lacking of late, the home team were excellent as they produced some lovely passages of football as well as working tirelessly to win the ball back.

City looked dangerous whenever they attacked and some of their movement and one-touch football in the attacking third was a joy to watch, yet there was also a vulnerability about Guardiola's side at the back.

Llorente's equaliser was a case in point, albeit aided by Bacary Sagna's unfortunate slip. Gylfi Sigurdsson's lovely lofted pass exposed the City right-back as he lost his footing and what followed was a goal of the highest quality. Llorente took the ball on the half-volley and arrowed a sumptuous left-footed strike that flashed beyond Claudio Bravo and into the top corner.

Aguero had given City the lead only four minutes earlier with another superb piece of attacking play. With Kyle Naughton, the Swansea left-back, dragged infield by De Bruyne's presence, Fernandinho's raking diagonal pass released Sagna in space on the City right. Sagna picked out Aguero and the striker expertly turned Jordi Amat with a beautiful first touch, creating the room to drill an angled shot under Lukasz Fabianksi.

Both teams had chances to score again before the interval. De Bruyne, following a slick interchange between Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan, was uncharacteristically wasteful when he dragged wide of the near upright.

At the other end, Van der Hoorn headed Sigurdsson's cross over the bar and also felt that he should have had a penalty when Fernandinho barged into him in the area. In an open, entertaining game, the opportunities kept coming. Wayne Routledge played a neat one-two with Sigurdsson but his shot drifted wide. City, however, continued to threaten as Amat and Naughton blocked shots from Aguero and Sterling respectively.

Then came the penalty. At first glance it looked harsh, yet replays showed Van der Hoorn's left arm making contact with De Bruyne's face. Aguero converted from the spot and City were now firmly in charge. David Silva's deflected shot was tipped over the bar by Fabianski before Sterling, showing some dexterous footwork, added the third.


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