Tevez the difference for under par City
A DISMAL display in Manchester saw the Premier League Champions scrape past Swansea City 1-0.
Carlos Tevez’s 30-yard wonder goal managed to rescue a below-par City, who climbed to second in the league table on Saturday evening. Having lost in midweek to Ajax 3-1, it was clear the Blues were suffering from a Champions League hangover, as their performance was poor from the kick-off.
In a dire first half which saw only a handful of chances, neither side looked interested in the game. Momentum did however pick up towards the latter stages of the half, with Swansea’s Michu having a goal disallowed for offside. City then awoke with their first real attempt as Tevez forced Michel Vorm into a comfortable first save.
As the interval approached Michu was again on target, but Joe Hart stood strong to block the Spaniard’s effort to keep it goalless at half time.
There was an improvement from both sides after the break, and in particular from the home side. Within 18 seconds of the restart Sergio Aguero flashed a shot wide.
Mario Balotelli was then brought on to replace Kolarov, as Roberto Mancini looked to improve his side’s efforts going forward. The change certainly made an impact as the Italian forced his way into the Swansea penalty area but was forced by wide by Vorm. Aguero then saw his well struck volley collected easily by the Dutch international.
Swansea’s biggest threat, Michu, would have put Micheal Laudrup’s side in front had it not been for a sublime point blank range save from Hart. The midfielder’s diving header was somehow parried away by the City number one. Micah Richards poor clearance was picked up by Swansea for a follow-up only for Vincent Kompany to block well.
It was then time for last season’s cast out to save the day, as Tevez broke the deadlock for the home team. The Argentinian, who this time last year was AWOL playing with a golf club rather than a football, drove his shot from distance into the bottom right hand corner to grab his fifth of the campaign to end an eight game goal drought.
Vorm subsequently injured his groin in an attempt to save the shot and was stretchered off, which will worry Laudrup who now face’s Liverpool in midweek without his first choice goalkeeper. Gerhard Tremmel replaced his teammate in between the sticks, playing just his sixth game for Swansea in only his second Premier League appearance.
Still, the Swans pushed on with Michu and De Guzman both searching for an equaliser.
The stretcher was brought on to the pitch for a second time in the last 10 minutes. Richards pulled up in the penalty area with an injury to his right knee that caused the 24-year-old considerable distress. Medical staff stretchered the defender off the pitch for treatment, as Kolo Toure was brought on to fill the gap at the back.
With two major injuries for both sides, the fourth official signalled 12 minutes extra time as Mancini brought on Joleon Lescott to create extra cover in his defence and hopefully secure a second clean sheet of the 2012-13 campaign.
The substitution strangely encouraged more attempts from the home side, as Tevez and Balotelli went close in the dying minutes, which turned out to be the longest ever Premier League game of its 20-year history.
The result means City remain unbeaten in the league, and a second consecutive clean sheet at the Etihad Stadium should cheer up Mancini who will want to move on from a forgettable week in which another Champions League defeat sees City’s European ambitions hanging by a thread.
Winning ugly isn’t pleasant to watch but the Italian manager will be pleased his team can beat teams even when they are playing poorly.
On the contrary, Swansea will feel hard done by, as the result doesn’t reflect the performance of Laudrup’s players. The Welsh side remain tenth but should be higher given their efforts today.
Quays News Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez - The 30-year-old looked the sharpest out of his teammates and will appreciate the fact his manager favours him over top scorer Edin Dzeko. Getting on the scoresheet and giving 110% to the City cause, he deserves some credit for dragging this team through a difficult game.
Manchester City – Hart 6, Richards 6, (K Touré 81’, 5), Kompany 6, Nastasic 6, Clichy 6, Y Touré 6, Barry 5, Nasri 5, Tevez 7, Kolarov 5 (Balotelli 45’, 6); Aguero 6 (Lescott 90’, 5) Unused Subs: Pantilimon, Evans, Sinclair, Dzeko
Swansea City - Vorm 5 (Tremmel, 64’ 5) Rangel 6, Williams 5, Flores 6, Davies 5, Ki Sung-Yeung 5, De Guzman 6, Britton 5 (Graham 72’, 5), Hernandez 6 (Dyer 77’, 6), Routledge 6 Michu 7 Unused Subs: Monk, Tiendalli, Agustien, Shechter
Booked: Rangel, Dyer
By Liam McCallion
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