Fragile Man City edge past Hull

2013-09-01 14:00

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Alvaro Negredo brought relief by scoring for the second week

Alvaro Negredo came off the bench to score for the second successive game as The Noisy Neighbours edged to a 2-0 home win against the promoted side yesterday.

With memories of last weekend’s 3-2 defeat to another promoted outfit, Cardiff City, still fresh, City again looked edgy in defence and lacking inspiration in attack before Negredo found the net.

The Spaniard was brought on at half-time and 20 minutes later brought relief to the home fans inside the Etihad Stadium when he clinically headed home a Pablo Zabaleta cross from the right.

Yaya Touré added an undeserved gloss to the scoreline with a fantastic curling free kick from 20 metres in the 90th minute to give City six points from their opening three games, three more than their opponents.

City’s performance, however, suggests there are still creases to iron out for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

The prematch talk was about their ability to defend set pieces, with the form of keeper Joe Hart under the microscope.

City would have hoped that their defensive shortcomings, ruthlessly exposed by Cardiff last weekend, would have been alleviated by the return from injury of Matija Nastasic at centre back.

Yet the uncertainty at the heart of their back four, still shorn of injured captain Vincent Kompany’s steadying influence, was exposed within seven minutes. Sone Aluko needed the faintest of sidesteps to bypass Joleon Lescott, Kompany’s stand-in, to open up an acre of space in front of him, but after bearing down on Hart, he scuffed his shot and it trickled past the post.

The visitors then had the ball in the net four minutes later, but it was ruled out for offside.

Danny Graham was allowed to loiter unattended, but had strayed marginally beyond City’s defensive line when the ball was tossed into the box and his sliding finish counted for nothing.

Lescott had a header tipped over by Hull keeper Allan McGregor but apart from that the home team’s play lacked adventure.

Negredo was brought on as a substitute for the third successive game at the interval and should have found the net two minutes later, but he mistimed a header and sent it well wide of goal.

With City looking clean out of inspiration, the Spaniard made amends midway through the second half.

The former Sevilla striker showed the penalty-area instincts that persuaded City to spend £20 million (R318 million) in the closed season, when he got on the end of a fantastic cross from Zabaleta and headed down into the net.

The goal glut City fans may have expected to follow did not materialise and, in the end, it was more a question of whether the hosts would hold on than extend their fragile advantage until Touré finished the game.

With a similar finish to his effort against Newcastle United in their opening match, he curled the ball into the top corner, leaving the keeper stranded.

City now go second in the table behind Chelsea, who were in European Super Cup action on Friday.

What the result means

Man City:

» They move up to second position behind Chelsea and keep their challenge for the league title alive;

» Striker Jesus Negrado, signed for R300 million, is still proving that he is ­worth his salt; and

» While not conceding a goal in this game, captain Victor Kompany is still missed at the heart of defence.

Hull City:

» Still have only three points from a possible nine out of their three matches;

» No need to panic as yet, but might find themselves facing relegation come end of season in May;

» Stay on 13th position on the 20-team log; and

» Need to plug their defence as they have a minus-three goal difference

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