It was City who were expected to easily win the game but it was Hull who started the more lively. The Tigers had the majority of the chances in the first fifteen to twenty minutes with Koren and Aluko having the best of the opportunities.
The ball found the number 24 who ran clear to get a one v one with Joe Hart, he had plenty of options but he chose the worst of the lot. He rolled the ball to the near post but it was wide of the post. In that particular position he could have chipped the keeper, go round him or curl it to the far post.
They had another couple of chances shortly after with a goal disallowed for offside after a stunning finish from Graham. He looked so relieved when he saw it hit the net, but once he realised it was ruled out he looked distraught because he so desperately wanted to end his drought.
Former Baggies player Robert Koren had a great chance to take the lead following a cleared free kick. He hit low and hard to only find the wrong side of the post, he was unlucky. The Slovenian’s strike was so good he even received praise from Michael Owen.
The best chance for the home side came from a corner which was to the near post from Aguero. The City hero hit it with plenty of curl and it found Kolarov who’s header transferred the power from the delivery into the header which nearly found the bottom corner.
Manchester City were playing the tika taka style of play, which although was nice to watch it wasn’t to effective. They were playing one pass too many and trying to get the perfect goal. None of the players wanted to fire from distance to test McGregor, it was all a little too fancy.
They were looking a shadow of the team that beat Newcastle so comfortably because they were losing the midfield battle. The two signings from Spurs were proving crucial in the game because they were dictating the play.
Towards the end of the first half, the only real chances City had was from set pieces. Toure had half a chance from a header but it looped over the bar. When McGregor was called into action he wad ready and is proving to be a good capture for the new boys. Hull were well organized and hit on the break so the keeper was rarely needed in the first half.
Manchester City were missing the powerful runs of Yaya Toure who was in a more defensive role than when Mancini was in charge. Certainly Bruce would have been the happier of the two managers going into the break.
Although it was a disappointing first half from the former champions, there was a sense around the Etihad that City would eventually get the job done. One of the positives to take from the first half was that Hart looked more confident than at the Cardiff game.
At half time, Pelligrini made a change by bringing on Negredo for Dzeko. Although McGregor did look as if he was carrying on injury, he didn’t make way for Harper.
Negredo had his first chance within a couple of minutes when David Silva picked him out in the area. The striker leaped above his marker to get a header away, but it was well off what was required to find the net.
Hart had been criticized coming into the game and people have said he was low on confidence but he did use his feet well. Graham put him under pressure, the England international did a little step over to fool the former Swansea man and play out.
That didn’t affect the striker ‘s confidence because he had a shot at every available opportunity. He turned away from his marker to get a shot away but the there was too much on the strike and it was always rising.
That was only one a few chances that the away side had, City played with more purpose and started to dominate possession. Silva was found on either side and in the centre to pick out that pass to carve open the defence.
Hull still played with pride and believed that they could still get the victory even though they saw a lot less of the ball. They had to counter a lot more and used Graham as their target man. In some respects it was similar to the way the Super cup was played yesterday.
There were a few yellow cards being handed out by Phil Dowd for reckless play. With the City frustration and the determination from Hull, it was starting to het a little dirty.
Finally with just over an hour on the clock, City found their way through. Zabaleta’s cross found Negredo who learned from his previous effort and headed beyond the outstanding McGregor to break Hull ‘s hearts. Although I feel that Aluko was the man who felt the worst when the goal was scored.
Aluko was forced off with what looked like a hamstring injury. Aluko did have a great game despite his huge miss, he was a key part in the attacks because he used his pace to get beyond Lescott and Nastasic. They were happy to see the back of him.
Hull were beginning to slow down the pace due to the lack of energy, and it was only a matter of time before the home side got their second. Bruce saw they needed some fresh legs and so he brought on Boyd.
Pelligrini looked as if he was prepared to hold onto the one goal lead because of the change he made. Sergio Aguero was given a rest and Milner was given the chance to prove his worth.
With City having that extra man in the middle of the park, Hull were finding it increasingly difficult to get the ball back. Hull had a few more chances from free kicks due to City committing to too many fouls, but nothing came from it apart from Hart dealing with the situations easily.
There was a late goal from Toure to kill the game off after a cracking free kick which was similar to the one he scored against Newcastle. It was picture perfect because it hit off the bar and in, not even a man on the line could stop it. It was top draw.
In the game, Hull gave a good account of themselves because they gave the champions a real game. Every single player gave it their all and Graham was unlucky not to break his goal drought, he worked tirelessly all game to get a goal but it wasn’t to be. Hull can definitely hold their heads up high and they deserved their applause from the fans at the final whistle.
For City Hart had a confidence boosting game because he dealt with all set pieces well to silence any doubters.
Based on an overall performance, they were poor but that quality and winning mentality helped them crawl across the line. It was a bad performance but the all important three points belonged to Manchester City, it is a sign of champions.
My man of the match was Tom Huddlestone because he added that quality to keep the Tigers in the game. He delivered some good free kicks to cause the defence problems as well as his passes created the majority of his side’s chances.
Hull deserved at least a point, but it came down to the extra quality that their opponents had.