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Bruno Fernandes arrived at Manchester United from Sporting at the start of this year. A move to England saw the Portugal international meet his compatriots Diogo Dalot and Bernardo Silva in Manchester. The Red Devils fullback represented FC Porto in the past, while the Manchester City star joined Pep Guardiola’s side from Benfica in 2017.
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Despite some key absences Pep Guardiola’s side made an electric start at Molineux but could not sustain it
First half scintillating; second half a touch concerning. This was Manchester City in a season-opening trip to Wolves that could be cast as the start of what might be the greatest test yet for Pep Guardiola: the uncharted territory of a fifth season in charge of a team who had question marks against them before kick-off wherever you looked.
Sergio Agüero was out for two more months because of a knee injury. Aymeric Laporte was missing owing to recovery from Covid. Ilkay Gündogan had been placed in quarantine after testing positive for the virus. A 35-year-old Fernandinho was selected in defensive midfield, Nathan Aké made his debut alongside the uneven John Stones in central defence and though David Silva ended a glittering decade by departing in the summer, the bench lacked its usual blanket strength in depth.Continue reading...
Manchester City were outstanding in the first half and got their season off to a winning start, though they needed Wolves to miss a few chances
And with that, my goose is cooked. Bye!
Pep Guardiola speaks to Sky. He’s obviously not very keen on doing so, and it’s tough to get much out of him, but they do get a few morsels:
It was a good one. We know how difficult it is in this stadium. But the game was good. Always is try to [start] in this way. Sometimes we cannot, and sometimes we need more time to get our best condition, but it’s a good start, to come here and win. In the period that we are, in the situation that we had these last two weeks, I expected that at some moments we would suffer, but in general we controlled very well. In general everyone was ready and did well.
The goal and the second half he played incredibly well, he helped us to keep the ball. We could not run the match because we are tired in our legs, but in general we did a good game.
What does Nuno Espirito Santo have to say about it?
We knew it was going to be tough, but the first half we didn’t start very well. City created a lot of problems for us to recover the ball, but even in the first half we had a good spell, when we had possession, then we conceded the penalty. From then on things became much harder. Much improved in the second half, much improved. We find the right way to press, to recover the ball, and we created a lot of good moments, chances that we could score. We knew that one goal could change everything. That was the belief in the second half, so a very good second half.
We always have to give credit to our opponent, but we should do better, especially defensively. The penalty, second goal. But even in the second half we should improve a lot of things, the final touch, the clinical moment that we create, the chances we had. A lot of things to improve.
We changed. We tried to adapt. And I think we blocked City possession through the middle, with Pedro and Daniel inside of the pitch, and we were able to press and recover the ball, and every time we recovered the ball we had a clear moment to accelerate the game. So we had a lot of things that we changed.
Kevin de Bruyne has a chat. He’s not sure if he should get an assist for the third - “I was really tired at the time” - but is overall quite chirpy.
I think we played really well. Obviously there’s going to be stages when it’s difficult because offensively they’re really strong. But we played secure, we didn’t take too many risks, and we knew with only two weeks of training it’s going to be hard. Props to the defenders because I think they kept it really tight and we did really well.
It’s a little bit of a weird season, but we know we need to start well. Wolves have been a bogey team for us in the last couple of seasons so to come here and do this performance is encouraging. The only thing we can really do is play game by game. We know if the pace is the same as the last three years it’s going to be a hard job. We need to fight against [Liverpool]. I think we make each other better and that’s what sport is all about.
Barney Ronay has filed his match report from Molineux:
On a gripping night, Manchester City produced a performance of two distinct and telling halves: an imperious passing machine in the first, City were run thrillingly close in the second by a Wolves team that attacked its weak point on the left flank to great effect. It took some poor Wolves finishing for City to see out a 3-1 win in their first game of the Premier League season.
City took a wild swerve from irresistible to just-about-good-enough, and were reliant in the end on Wolves’ profligacy during a 15-minute barrage in the second half. The home side could well have scored another goal or two, but even so this has been the goaliest weekend in 20-team Premier League history, which is jolly nice.
Gabriel Jesus has scored the 44th PL goal of this match round, a competition record for a 20-team season, surpassing the 43 scored in February 2011 pic.twitter.com/5l8F2leQil
90+5 mins: And that’s the night’s last meaningful action! For the 10th season in a row, City start their season with a win.
90+5 mins: City have a throw, lose the ball, win it back, and Jesus has a shot the takes a savage deflection off Coady to leave Rui Patricio helpless!
90+4 mins: Save! Jesus runs to the edge of the area, ignores De Bruyne to his right - who would surely have spent the remainder of the game by the corner flag - and instead has a shot, which is well saved by Rui Patricio! The upshot is that De Bruyne will after all get an opportunity to spend the rest of the game by a corner flag.
90+3 mins: Torres’s first significant contribution to English football involves a slow-motion dribble down the left wing that gobbles up a bit more time.
90+1 mins: There will be about four minutes of stoppage time for Wolves to conjure an equaliser. It starts with City taking a short corner and letting a few precious seconds tick away.
90 mins: De Bruyne wins a throw-in, and then a minute later wins a corner.
89 mins: Wolves win a free-kick on the right. Neves’s cross is good, but Fernandinho wins the header. The home side have another chance from the corner.
86 mins: Rodri gets booked. Having absolutely owned the first half, City find themselves hanging on here.
Ederson has conceded to the first effort on target he faced this season. Lovely tribute to Claudio Bravo, who conceded to the first shot on target he faced in the Champions League, the Premier League & the FA Cup last season.
84 mins: Wolves have had several chances this half, but the goal came from their first and so far only shot on target (though I’m not sure why the Neves effort that Walker cleared off the line doesn’t count).
82 mins: Another debut, as City bring Ferran Torres on for Sterling. Podence is still being treated, raising the possibility that he is in genuine pain.
81 mins: Podence is down and rolling about in apparent agony, after Walker caught him on the chin with a hand. It was clearly accidental and without malice, and Podence can roll around all he likes, there’ll be no reward.
80 mins: City win a free-kick, maybe 15 yards beyond the halfway line. De Bruyne either totally mishits it or attempts a completely ludicrous shot from insane distance, and it’s not even a very good one. Rui Patricio collects.
78 mins: Game on! A corner is headed out to Traore, who plays to Podence on the right touchline. De Bruyne comes over to close him down, but Podence pops the ball through his legs, curls a lovely cross into the six-yard box, and Raul Jimenez heads in!
77 mins: A double change for the home side - Dendoncker and Silva are on, the latter for his league debut, and Neto and Moutinho are off.
76 mins: De Bruyne plays the ball forward to Jesus, a pass and a run not dissimilar to that which led to the penalty. Again Saiss comes over to defend it, but this time he stays on his feet, eases Jesus off the ball, and the danger is over.
74 mins: Neto turns and runs at City’s defence, who pretty let him do it until he’s on the edge of the area, when Ake slides in and takes the ball away.
71 mins: Jesus is played in by Foden and puts the ball in the net, but then the flag goes up because he was offside by absolutely loads.
67 mins: City are keeping the ball a little better now, thereby denying Wolves regular chances to attack them. There are surely more goals in this though, and it’s all about who gets the next one. Probably.
In a parallel universe Traore went out to attack Mendy from the start, this is 2-2, Mendy's just been subbed off and Pep is doing a lot of pointing
65 mins: Wolves’ great discovery is that there is always space behind City’s defence, and they can pretty easily lift the ball into that space, or in Traore’s case just push the ball past defenders and sprint into it, and create some havoc of their own.
63 mins: Now City attack, Rui Patricio comes out to try to beat Jesus to the ball, fails, but the Brazilian is forced wide enough to allow him to backpedal back into position before the eventual shot, by Walker, which is anyway blocked.
61 mins: This has been an astonishing turnaround. Now Jimenez nearly plays Podence in again, but the forward’s chest control sends the ball into Walker’s path. It could easily be 2-2 by now.
60 mins: And again! Traore gets to the byline and squares to Jimenez, who only needs to sidefoot across goal and into the net, but sends the ball well wide!
59 mins: And another! Moutinho’s pass over Stones sets Podence free, and as Ederson edges off his line he chips from just outside the area, but the ball floats onto the roof of the net!
56 mins: Another chance for Wolves! Neto gets down the right and pulls back to Podence, who dummies it for Neves, whose shot from 20 yards isn’t great and is cleared off the line by Walker before Ederson can save it. Still, there’s some encouragement here for the home side.
54 mins: Wolves close to a lifeline! Traore slides a low cross to Podence, who is given far too much space inside the penalty area to turn and shoot, but the ball whistles just wide of the post!
53 mins: Save! De Bruyne sets up Jesus for a run at goal, but he chooses not to take on Coady in a foot race and instead jinks left and shoots straight at Rui Patricio.
50 mins: Traore gets past Mendy and Rodri with hilarious ease, but then sends his cross straight into Ederson’s arms. Whatever the final score Pep will be having a word with the two of them about those tissue-tough challenges later, I’d have thought.
48 mins: City have had a couple of post-restart attacks, but in the first Sterling overhit his pass to Mendy, and in the second Walker allowed Saiss to get a toe to the ball, which bounced back off the City full-back and out of play for a goal-kick.
46 mins: Peeeeep! The second half is under way.
The players are back out. No changes to either side. Can Wolves get back into this somehow? We’re very much about to find out.
Manchester City are just so good at the playing of football. When they’re on it, as they are tonight, they give you no time, they give you no space, and they show you no mercy.
45+3 mins: City spend the entirety of stoppage time playing keep-ball with faintly insulting ease.
45+1 mins: There’ll be a couple of minutes of stoppage time. They start with De Bruyne sending a low cross towards Sterling, but a defender gets there first.
44 mins: Rodri very nearly curls the ball into the far corner with the outside of his right foot with an on-the-turn volley from way out on the right. I think that was probably an accident, but if Rodri could have convinced the word that he meant it it might have been the goal of the season, had it curled just six inches more.
43 mins: De Bruyne should score! Joao Moutinho’s header in midfield goes straight to Sterling, who heads on to Jesus, who heads on to De Bruyne, whose burst from deep has gone uncovered by Moutinho, but the shot hits Rui Patricio’s shoulder and goes wide!
41 mins: The corner is taken short, played back to Traore, and from his cross Jimenez heads wide.
41 mins: Podence nutmegs Rodri with a pass to Jimenez on the right, the home side’s highlight of the night so far, and Wolves go on to win a corner. “I’m sure Sterling knows that one runner will be level with him and one five yards behind him before he looks up in that position,” says Gary Naylor. “City hit the man with the final pass so often that it must be coached. You wonder why two attackers make the same run for other clubs.”
39 mins: Foden runs onto De Bruyne’s pass and into the box, squares up Saiss, but then shoots high and wide of the back stick with his left foot.
36 mins: Now Mendy joins Jesus in the book, for bringing down Traoré on the left. Wolves make nothing of the free-kick.
35 mins: Jesus goes in late on Joao Moutinho and gets booked. He’s having a rum old time here, nothing going right for him at all (except his team scoring a couple of unanswered goals and generally playing like emperors).
33 mins: De Bruyne actually plays in Sterling this time, and as Rui Patricio races out you expect him to lift the ball over the keeper and into the net. Instead he squares it to Foden, who passes into an empty net from 10 yards. It’s just irresistible football, Foden and Jesus also involved in the build-up. And probably a few others as well.
That’s a great goal. City chop Wolves up and turn them into salad.
31 mins: Jesus goes down under a Coady challenge again. This time he was offside in the build-up, so Wolves get the free-kick.
30 mins: Sterling’s shot from away to the left of goal is saved by Rui Patricio. He didn’t have much chance of scoring there, but there wasn’t really a cross on either so chanced his arm anyway.
27 mins: Mendy plays a pass infield from the left, which goes nowhere near anyone in white-and-paisley-swirls. There’s a reason for that, because Jesus meanwhile is on the turf and insisting that Coady put him there. The referee does not concur.
26 mins: There’s a long way to go in this game, but up to now City are making Wolves look like the Toy Town Under-14s third XI.
25 mins: De Bruyne tries to play in Sterling with a pretty simple straight pass, but puts a bit much on it and it rolls out of play.
22 mins: City win a corner, which is turned behind for another corner, which is played short, messed about with and generally wasted.
20 mins: De Bruyne goes low to his right; Rui Patricio goes low to his left. The shot is firm and accurate enough to beat him anyway.
19 mins: That’s really rubbish defending. Saiss dives in, gets nowhere near the ball, and De Bruyne can just fall over his legs and win a guaranteed penalty, which he does.
18 mins: “Is it my imagination or are City playing in Tottenham’s home kit?” wonders Edward Graves. It is your imagination, because Tottenham’s kit doesn’t have subtle little paisley shapes that you can only see in close-up, but from a distance it does look quite Spursy.
17 mins: De Bruyne snaffles the ball from Coady on halfway, but can’t find a through-ball. City are looking a little bit scary at the moment.
14 mins: Fernandinho crosses from the right towards Sterling, who chests down for Jesus, who didn’t anticipate it so can’t get to the ball. That would have been a phenomenal assist had the Brazilian had any idea that it was coming.
12 mins: City have had 80% of possession so far. Ederson has the ball as I type, so he’s not had absolutely nothing to do, though on this occasion he only had to pick up an overhit through-ball.
11 mins: Saved! It’s a decent effort, but towards the goalkeeper’s side of goal so a pretty straightforward stop.
11 mins: City win a free-kick, about 10 yards outside the penalty area. Kevin de Bruyne sizes it up.
8 mins: Marcal comes off, and Vinagre comes on. I’m not sure what happened to Marcal, who wasn’t limping as he left the field and had needed no treatment.
7 mins: Wolves have settled into it a bit over the last couple of minutes, though they haven’t exactly bothered the City defence. News is less good for their left-back Marcal, who looks to be coming off.
4 mins: City have owned the opening exchanges of this game. “City’s website makes Delap sound like a luxury apartment. I wonder if he comes with a garage,” writes Ian Coopestake.
2 mins: Penalty claim! Sterling spins Boly and runs into the area. Coady dives in, but at the last second he realises he won’t get the ball and pulls out; Sterling sees him come in and goes down. But there was no contact, and there’s no penalty (but there should have been a booking for simulation, really).
1 min: Peeeeeeep! City, in their white away top, get their first game of the season under way.
The players are out and almost ready to play. Football ahoy!
I do like a bit of Nuno Espirito Santo. I find him very easy to listen to, and that he says interesting things in interesting ways. This is what he’s got to say about this game:
We know that today’s going to be a new challenge, a new game. All things are going to be different. We have to play good, we have to be organised, compact, solid, because Man City have a lot of good players. Competing is always staying in the game, knowing that every ball is important, that every moment of the game requires focus, and bouncing back from mistakes, organising again, and having the will to have the ball and try to hurt Man City. We have talented players and we want them to express their talent.
“I see there is a Delap on the City bench,” notes Will Lane. “Please tell me his first name is Rory and English football has finally ground Pep down to reverting to long throws. Maybe he will sign Phil Bardsley as defensive cover too.”
Sadly it is not Rory but Rory’s son, Liam, a 17-year-old striker. “Mixing power with panache, the 17-year-old also boasts an explosive turn of pace, prodigious skill and a genuine hunger and thirst for goals,” raves City’s website. “Delap relishes the physical side of the game and despite his tender years he is a formidable presence on the field. But he marries that athleticism with guile and skilful creativity to make him a hugely exciting prospect.” No mention of throw-in prowess, I’m afraid.
And here’s photographic evidence of Nathan Ake’s existence. And also of Manchester City’s paisley training tops, yours for just £50:
Looks like a perfect evening for footballing fun in Wolverhampton.
Team sheets have been handed in, and Pep Guardiola gives Nathan Ake a full debut for Manchester City. The other names in the frame are these:
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Rui Patricio, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Traore, Neves, Joao Moutinho, Marcal, Daniel Podence, Jimenez, Pedro Neto. Subs: Silva, Vitinha, Ruddy, Ruben Vinagre, Dendoncker, Kilman, Rasmussen.
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Ake, Mendy, Fernandinho, Rodri, Foden, De Bruyne, Sterling, Gabriel Jesus. Subs: Steffen, Torres, Mahrez, Otamendi, Delap, Doyle, Bernabe.
Referee: Andre Marriner.
Your first City team of the 20/21 @premierleague season!
XI: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Ake, Mendy, Rodrigo, Fernandinho (C), De Bruyne, Foden, Sterling, Jesus
Subs: Steffen, Torres, Mahrez, Otamendi, Delap, Doyle, Bernabe
#ManCity | https://t.co/axa0klD5re pic.twitter.com/Q4Qupdu0BR
Manchester City have won one and lost two of the five games they have played against Wolves since the appointment of Nuno Espirito Santo, with their last visit here back in December producing a drama-crammed thriller in which Ederson was sent off early doors, Raheem Sterling gave City a two-goal lead anyway, and Wolves came back to win it with an 89th-minute Matt Doherty effort.
Nuno has warned the world not to expect any repeat of that kind of madcap nonsense. “Things will never be the same. This is what we have to realise,” he philosophised. “It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be very difficult. We expect a very, very tough match.”Continue reading...
On a gripping night at Molineux Manchester City were, by turns, brilliant and brittle. Undercooked and depleted by injury, City were still good enough to come away with a 3-1 win against powerful opponents in their first game of the season, prompted by another masterclass from Kevin De Bruyne.
It might have been different. How Nuno Espírito Santo will wish his Wolves team had started with the level of aggression they showed in the second half. Or indeed that Adama Traoré had been instructed to abandon a diffident turn as a deep defensive wing-back and attack City’s obvious tender spot on the left flankContinue reading...
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