Verdict: City 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0

Goals: Adebayor 18 for City.

As former City manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, was renowned for saying during his time in charge of England, “First half good, second half not so good”. Regardless, a win is a win, and Adebayor is the new hero of Eastlands, capping off another excellent display with the only goal.

City lined up in a similar 4-4-2 to last week at Blackburn; the only change being Tevez making his competitive debut in place of the unlucky Bellamy. At Blackburn, the Welshman had played in front of Adebayor using his pace to stretch Rovers defence. Today saw a more fluid formation with the interchanging of roles between Tevez, Adebayor, Robinho and Wright-Phillips. With Ireland breaking into the area, and even Barry getting forward at times, there was a myriad of attacking options. The fans were purring approval throughout the first half as chance after chance was created. Adebayor had calmed any nerves with a goal after 18 minutes. Good work from Robinho drew the defenders before he laid the ball off for Barry to cross. A half-clearance saw the ball land at the feet of Tevez who cushioned it first time into the path of Adebayor. A brilliant spin and drilled shot saw the ball fly in at the near post with Hennessey unable to react in time.

Thereafter, chances came and went. Robinho scuffed two shots then hit a cracker from a ridiculous angle which Hennessey just turned round. Tevez planted a header wide when he should have scored. Ireland laid off a Wright-Phillips cross for Adebayor to sting the palms of the Wolves keeper.

Throughout all this Wolves seemed overawed, with a lone striker in a system designed to try and contain City. Allowing this City side to attack is folly, but credit to Mick McCarthy for two half-time substitutions and a switch to 4-4-2, which gave them a lot more purpose going forward.

There was a hint of what was to come just before half-time when Given had to pull off a fingertip save to deny a Jarvis curler that was destined for the top corner.

City’s midfield wilted badly in the second half and Wolves were repeatedly driving through to our penalty area in numbers.  As at Blackburn, credit goes to Toure, Dunne and Given in holding firm. Ultimately, a shot from Keogh that cracked against the crossbar was the closest the visitors came to an equaliser.

City continued to create and spurn chances. Ireland was the most culpable when clean through after a one-two with Robinho. Adebayor knocked the ball to far when rounding the keeper and was unable to squeeze in his shot. Bellamy came on for the tired Tevez with the hope of adding a more competitive edge, but it wasn’t to be for the Welshman. Nothing quite went right for him and he added to the missed chances when unable to reach a tantalising cross from Robinho.

Tactically, Hughes was outmanouvred by McCarthy in the second period, leaving it far to late to bring on De Jong to bolster the midfield. Ireland and Wright-Phillips faded badly as the midweek exertions against Barcelona seemed to catch up with the Blues. As a result, there was surely a case for using all three susbstitutes. We were crying out for the tackling of Zabaleta, possibly on the right flank in front of Richards, or Onuoha in place of Richards.

Once again to few crosses were blocked at source, though Bridge did have a good game overall. The arrival of Joleon Lescott will be welcome, but it was conceding the midfield and failing to stop crosses that was the problem here, rather than the centre of defence. Toure impressed once again, particularly when coming across to cover Richards. It brought back memories of Distin covering our left-backs of yester-year, and was a sign of the professionalism the former Arsenal man brings to defensive duties.

Ultimately we rode out stoppage time and greeted the final whistle with a lot more relief than we should have. Despite the concerns at the back, a third clean sheet in the space of a week is not to be sniffed at and Hughes was able to accentuate the positives without to much criticism.

Mark Hughes:

“On chances created, we should have put the game to bed quite early on.

“But some of our play in the first half was outstanding and Adebayor’s play with Tevez was really good. They are quality players and have a mutual respect for what each can produce.

“We stood up to what Wolves threw at us later on and it completes a great week with three games, three wins and three clean sheets.”

Mick McCarthy:

“I don’t think we deserved a point, but we nearly earned one. There’s a big difference between the two. City missed loads of chances while we had chances to get something out of it – and almost did.”

Shay Given:

“When we have teams penned in like that for the back four and the goalkeeper it is about concentration levels.

“That was the case against Wolves. I didn’t have much to do but when I did I had to be in tune. It is all about not getting carried away with the exciting football that we do play and make sure the back door is shut.

“We have momentum on our side and it was important that we followed up the win at Blackburn with another here so we have to be pleased.”

Match reports:

The Independent
Daily Mail

Manchester Evening News
The Sun
The Telegraph
The Times

Blog reports:

Bitter And Blue
The Lonesome Death Of Roy Carroll
We’ve Got Robinho


Match highlights

Preview: City v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Player ratings: City v Wolverhampton Wanderers

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