Saturday 16 December 2017

Sterling opens his account to maintain efficient City's perfect start

Manchester City 2 Watford 0

Raheem Sterling scores the first goal for Manchester City yesterday
Raheem Sterling scores the first goal for Manchester City yesterday
Manchester City's Raheem Sterling shakes hands with Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini
Manchester City's Aleksandar Kolarov in action with Watford's Odion Ighalo
Manchester City's Raheem Sterling scored his first goal for the club

Andy Hampson at Etihad Stadium

August will close with Manchester City flying and hardly wanting the impending international break. Four wins, four clean sheets, 10 goals scored, and 12 points accrued is one story of their start. The other is a ripping yarn of sublime football in all departments, that is shredding teams at will and is a particularly entertaining to watch

Raheem Sterling has made a telling difference to Manuel Pellegrini's outfit. Yet he is the sole new summer recruit who has started any of the side's matches. So what the manager has done to a band of elite yet seasoned footballers who appeared out of ideas and steam in the second half of last season should be applauded. The XI who started were unchanged for a third consecutive outing. Kevin De Bruyne will become City's fifth major signing imminently. He will cost £58m, yet he may struggle for a place given how City are performing.

In last Sunday's 2-0 victory at Everton, City required an hour before scoring, via Aleksandar Kolarov. Yesterday, 47 minutes had been reached when they took the lead.

The man who did the trick was Sterling. This maiden strike for the club was also his first since Liverpool's 2-0 win over Newcastle United, on April 13.

City had been the dominant team and deserved the lead. After a string of passes Bacary Sagna was found down the right. The cross that landed plum on Sterling's right boot was a delight. So, too, the run that took the forward into space near Heurelho Gomes's goal. A light and clinically directed volley followed that gave the Brazilian no chance and that was 1-0 to City, and the sense was a goal glut might ensue.

Nine minutes later and the Sky Blues had their second. Yaya Touré had thus far been quietly efficient. From around 25 yards the Ivorian pummelled a free-kick into the Watford wall. This rebounded to David Silva and on the half-turn he rolled a slick pass to Fernandinho. It removed the Watford rearguard, it gave the midfielder a clear shooting chance. What followed was a rocket that zoomed past Gomes and City were two ahead.

City hogged possession as is expected yet when Quique Sánchez Flores's men took the ball there was a confidence to their one-touch pass-and-move stuff that convinced.

At the close Kelichi Iheanacho also made a first appearance for City, the 18-year-old Nigerian entering for Sterling. As with all of his colleagues, the latter had been supreme. And with this being a club-record 10th consecutive league victory, and Chelsea losing to Crystal Palace at home, this was near to a perfect day for City.


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