Category: Sports Written by The Nation Mirror Admin
Manuel Pellegrini has never made any secret of the fact his faith in Joe Hart is of the temporal variety, and while leaving the England goalkeeper out of a midweek Capital One Cup tie could be categorised as rotation, leaving him out of a vital League game will be taken as confirmation Hart is no longer the Manchester City manager’s automatic first choice.
Rotation it was though, insisted Pellegrini. “It was important for Willy Caballero to play not just one game, and Joe Hart had played eight games in 32 days,” said the Chilean, after seeing his side pegged back after scoring twice in the first 11 minutes, before class told in the second period.
“We started the game playing very well, dominated, scored two goals, then conceded an unlucky own goal and Hull grew, but I was very calm at half-time, because I felt if we kept playing the same way we were going to win the game in the second half,” said Pellegrini.
Caballero made some decent saves without looking particularly impressive, though the 32-year-old had little chance with either of the goals he conceded, the first a header steered past him by his own defender Eliaquim Mangala, the second a penalty, also conceded by the young French centre-half.
The ease with which Sergio Aguero accelerated past a static Hull back line and into the penalty area after 40 seconds did not bode well for the Tigers, although goalkeeper Allan McGregor blocked the striker’s effort from an angle. The portents were to be very quickly fulfilled. A poor clearing header from Michael Dawson gave Pablo Zabaleta the chance to slip the ball through to Aguero, again finding space in the right-hand side of the penalty area.
This time the angle was more favourable, and Aguero’s unfussy volley gave McGregor no chance. Having received one wake-up call, however, Hull turned over and went back to sleep. Edin Dzeko was unmarked four minutes later when he received David Silva’s pass, turned, and curled in a fine shot.
City then handed Hull a way back. Whether the slight deflection on Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross from the right persuaded Mangala he needed to get his head to the ball only he could say, but facing his own goal, he left Caballero stranded as the ball flew in at the near post.
Belief flooded back into Hull, although it might have gone straight back out had Aguero, yet again free on the right of the Hull area, not shot an inch wide of McGregor’s far post. In the event they levelled shortly after the half hour, when Mangala bundled over Abel Hernandez as the Hull striker drove past him into the penalty area. A brief dispute between Hernandez and Nikita Jelavic over who should take the penalty having been resolved, apparently by Dawson, Hernandez sent Cabellero the wrong way from the spot.
The chances kept coming. Hernandez saw a header comfortably saved by Caballero, while at the other end Dzeko headed a James Milner cross just over. Early in the second half, a 25-yard shot of thunderous power from Yaya Touré rebounded off the outside of McGregor’s right-hand post, but as the half progressed Hull began to chase shadows.
David Silva in particular began to find increasing amounts of space and was allowed to drift across the front of the Hull area before slipping the ball to Dzeko. The Bosnian’s angled shot was not particularly powerful, but it was accurate enough to beat McGregor. Having re-established a lead, City made no further mistakes. Hull huffed and puffed, and Jelavic tested Caballero, but it was the away team who completed the scoring, and almost inevitably it was Frank Lampard, on as a substitute, who was on hand to convert Zabaleta’s pull-back, the former Chelsea midfielder’s fourth goal in three City appearances.