| 6.8°C Dublin

Guardiola's men show their ruthless streak to punish Wolves after Boly moment of madness

Manchester City 3 Wolves 0

Close

Willy Boly stands over Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva just before the Wolves man was sent off during the first half. Photo: PA

Willy Boly stands over Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva just before the Wolves man was sent off during the first half. Photo: PA

PA

Willy Boly stands over Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva just before the Wolves man was sent off during the first half. Photo: PA

Manchester City made a mess of their previous two Premier League title defences, but Liverpool are discovering that this version of the champions are a different proposition and will not easily go away.

Manchester City made a mess of their previous two Premier League title defences, but Liverpool are discovering that this version of the champions are a different proposition and will not easily go away.

Close

Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City scores his team's second goal.  Photo: Victoria Haydn/Man City via Getty Images

Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City scores his team's second goal. Photo: Victoria Haydn/Man City via Getty Images

Man City via Getty Images

On a night when a tricky assignment was eased by Willy Boly's early red card and Wolverhampton Wanderers were forced to play for 71 minutes with 10 men, two goals from a resurgent Gabriel Jesus and an own goal from Conor Coady were enough for City to reduce the gap at the top back to four points.

With Jurgen Klopp's men beating Brighton on Saturday to open up a seven-point gap at the top, there was again no margin for error for the champions.

It will be much the same this weekend if Liverpool overcome Crystal Palace, 24 hours before City travel to bottom club Huddersfield.

City are not easily spooked. Hunted or hunter, they don't shirk a challenge, and when your goalkeeper and most expensive centre-half are better passers of the football than the vast majority of midfielders in the Premier League, it stands to reason that there is composure under pressure.

Close

Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City celebrates with teammates Danilo and Ilkay Gundogan of Manchester City as Conor Coady of Wolverhampton Wanderers (not pictured) scores their team's third goal for an own goal.  Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City celebrates with teammates Danilo and Ilkay Gundogan of Manchester City as Conor Coady of Wolverhampton Wanderers (not pictured) scores their team's third goal for an own goal. Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Getty Images

Dripping

The pass from Aymeric Laporte that led to City's first goal reaffirmed that this squad is dripping with talent, and gets better with every watch.

The defender was just over the halfway line when he curled the ball around Joao Moutinho and in between Matt Doherty and Ryan Bennett, neither of whom saw it coming.

Leroy Sané most certainly did, though, zooming in behind with those turbocharged boots of his and whipping a perfect cross into the six-yard box for Jesus to slide in to score.

As Palace, the only team to win at the Etihad in the league over the past nine months, will attest, you need most things to go your way, and City to have an off-day, to give yourself chance of leaving this stadium with anything.

What you absolutely do not want to do is shoot yourself in the foot early on. Wolves did just that. Already a goal down, they were soon a man down, too.

Ten men against this lot here - not a good look. Boly could have no complaints, either, Sure, the Wolves defender won the ball first but he dived in with such force that the raised studs of his right boot crunched into the Bernardo Silva's ankle and it was a wonder the Portugal international was able to carry on.

It was reckless, it was out of control and it most certainly endangered his opponent. Boly at least had the good grace to shake hands with Bernardo before leaving the field but that will have been cold comfort to Nuno Espirito Santo.

Indeed, the frustration for the Wolves manager is that his team were equipping themselves well.

His exasperation may have peaked, though, when Wolves spurned a glorious chance to equalise in the 36th minute.

Raul Jimenez showed strength to outmuscle Laporte for a 50-50 and surged forward, slipping the ball into the path of Jonny Otto only for his cross to evade the diving boot of Diogo Jota by a matter of a couple of inches.

There was the distinct feeling that chance needed to go in for Wolves to make things interesting and that was reinforced two minutes later when City won a penalty that Jesus converted for his second.

Ryan Bennett must have had a five-yard head start on Raheem Sterling when Bernardo played a short, clever pass in behind but the England forward's blistering pace and sheer determination enabled him to get ahead of the Wolves defender. Bennett was in trouble, stuck out a leg and down Sterling tumbled.

If Sergio Aguero on the substitutes' bench was expected after illness, Kevin De Bruyne's presence there was more of a surprise.

So is Pep Guardiola wrapping last season's talisman in cotton wool after successive knee injuries that had sidelined him for four months in total? Or was the Belgium midfielder paying the price for walking straight down the tunnel in a huff after being unhappy at being substituted after less than an hour against Burton Albion last Wednesday?

Guardiola had made it clear that if De Bruyne had a problem he should knock on his door and say so but, either way, it was not until the 58th minute that the Belgian was introduced.

It was only when De Bruyne's cross from Ilkay Gundogan short corner brushed off the head of Romain Saiss and was turned in by Coady that City could truly rest easy, job done. Back to you, Liverpool. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

The Daily Telegraph

Irish Independent