Second-half goals from Alvaro Negredo and Yaya Toure lifted Manchester City to a 2-0 win at home over Hull City on Saturday.
The hosts, who were coming off a surprising 3-2 defeat away to Cardiff six days prior, were looking to get back into the win column against a Tigers side that had posted back-to-back 1-0 wins in their last two matches—one against Norwich in the Premier League and the other against Leyton Orient in the Capital One Cup.
From the get-go, it was clear City would have to be at their best to claim the three points, as their promoted opponents went on the front-foot from the opening whistle.
After just five minutes, Hull might well have taken the lead, save for Robert Koren’s inability to connect with wide-open striker Danny Graham, and only two minutes later, Sone Aluko was played into the clear but scuffed his shot with only City goalkeeper Joe Hart to beat.
Then, Graham had the ball in the back of the net, but having mistimed his run onto Robbie Brady’s ball, his finish was rightfully flagged for offside.
The hectic spell concluded on the quarter-hour mark, when Koren’s volley went just wide of the near post. And not long after that, there were yellow cards for Hull defender Maynor Figueroa and City midfielder Fernandinho, both of whom had been guilty of careless tackles.
Negredo was introduced in place of Edin Dzeko to begin the second period, and just two minutes after the restart, the Spain international had his first chance to score when his headed effort from David Silva’s pass floated wide of the target.
But it was a harbinger of things to come, and in the 65th minute, Negredo had given City the lead, as the former Sevilla striker rose to meet Pablo Zabaleta’s inch-perfect cross past Hull ‘keeper Allan McGregor.
Both sides created the odd half-chance as the second period wore on—Matija Nastasic headed the ball into McGregor’s hands after a set-piece, and George Boyd shot wide after some good work by Tom Huddlestone—but it wasn’t until the 90th minute that the match would see its next, and final, goal.
After Samir Nasri was tripped up by James Chester just in front of Hull’s 18-yard box, Toure stepped up to deliver a free-kick and swung his perfectly placed effort over the wall and into the back of the net to secure the victory for the hosts.
Key Player Grades
Yaya Toure: A
For much of the first half, the Ivory Coast international and midfield partner of Fernandinho had all sorts of trouble getting a hold on the centre of the park. But by the end of the match, Toure had completed 88 percent of his passes, won 75 percent of his aerial battles, taken two shots on goal and scored the match-winner in City’s final game before the international break (statistics courtesy WhoScored.com).
David Silva: B-
The Spaniard had some difficulty stamping his authority on this match and faced a determined opponent in Ahmed Elmohamady much of the afternoon. Uncharacteristically, he failed to take a single shot at goal and was replaced in favour of Nasri just after the hour-mark. Over his 66 minutes of play, he failed to win a single dribble against a Hull player.
Jake Livermore: B
Livermore, who was acquired on season-long loan from Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month, put in an effective performance alongside former Spurs teammate Tom Huddlestone in the centre of the Hull midfield, passing at 81 percent accuracy, winning each of his aerial duels and succeeding in three tackles to break up play.
Manchester City go into the international break with two wins and one loss from their first three matches of the 2013-14 Premier League season. Their next appointment will be Stoke away on September 14, and three days after their trip to the Britannia, they’ll open their Champions League campaign away to Viktoria Plzen.
Hull, meanwhile, will return from their two-week hiatus with a match at home to Cardiff on September 14. The following week, they’ll be at St. James’ Park to take on Newcastle.