Manchester City 2 (Negredo 65, Toure 90)
Hull City 0
Hull City were on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, but they can once again come away from one of the top flight’s ‘big boys’ with plenty of encouragement from their performance.
The Tigers frustrated their opponents for long spells and played some good football too, but just couldn’t take the chances when they came their way.
And they were made to pay as second half goals from Alvaro Negredo and Yaya Toure eventually saw the home side to all three points.
Steve Bruce made one change to the side that started against Norwich the previous weekend as Danny Graham replaced the suspended Yannick Sagbo.
The Tigers’ boss had told his players to ‘enjoy the challenge’ at the home of the former Premier League champions and his side certainly did that in the opening 45 minutes.
A tentative raid down the right involving Ahmed Elmohamady and Graham brought an early cross into the Manchester City box, but Robbie Brady couldn’t profit and the home side cleared.
Robert Koren then took advantage of some hesitancy in the home defence to win his side a corner but the Tigers couldn’t make the most of it.
Then came the Tigers’ best chance of the game. When Graham’s attempted ball wide to Elmohamady was blocked, Aluko seized possession and with a swift drop of the shoulder left the home defence standing. He was through on goal with just Joe Hart to beat, but a horribly scuffed shot went agonisingly wide.
This was all within the first eight minutes and, almost stung by the Tigers’ start, Manchester City responded as Jesus Navas delivered a corner onto the head of Aleksandar Kolarov who saw his effort saved by Allan McGregor at his near post.
The Tigers were soon back on the attack with Robbie Brady given acres of space to deliver a cross from the left. It found Graham in the middle and he found the net with a well-executed first time finish only for the offside flag to cut short the celebrations.
A breathtaking opening quarter continued with McGregor tipping over Joleon Lescott’s header from a free kick before at the other end, Koren went within inches of giving his side the lead with a shot teed up by Brady 20 yards out.
While the two sides traded chances, they also traded yellow cards midway through the half as first Maynor Figueroa and then Fernandinho found their way into referee Phil Dowd’s book. Even Bruce wasn’t immune to a lecture from the official, getting a ticking off for protesting one too many decisions.
McGregor saved from Sergio Aguero as the half continued apace and the Tigers stayed strong until the break.
Half Time: Manchester City 0-0 Hull City
Manchester City made a change at the break as Negredo replaced Edin Dzeko and it was the substitute who had the first chance of the second half, somehow heading wide from six yards after being picked out by a fine right-wing cross.
Graham saw a shot from the edge of the box rise over the bar and Jesus Navas was off target with a volley from David Silva’s cut-back.
The Tigers then enjoyed a spell of pressure. A delightful attempted one-two between Graham and Koren just saw the return pass fail to reach the former, who would have been sure to have an attempt on goal, before Brady found Koren with a deep cross, but the Slovenian’s ball back across goal was cut out.
The home fans were growing impatient, but saw their side hit the front on 65 minutes. Pablo Zabaleta’s cross from the right picked out Negredo, and this time he made no mistake to head past McGregor.
Stephen Quinn came on to make his first appearance of the season five minutes later, replacing Aluko who worryingly limped off.
Quinn saw a tame effort saved by Hart as the Tigers looked for an equaliser while Curtis Davies was booked for a foul on Navas.
The Tigers continued to look for a leveller in the final ten minutes with substitute George Boyd denied by a last-ditch tackle, before the home side wrapped up their win in the final minute.
James Chester’s foul on Samir Nasri was punished with a free kick 20 yards out and Toure curled the ball into the net via the underside of the bar and a slight touch from Elmohamady on the line.
Despite the defeat, the Tigers quite rightly left the field to a standing ovation from their travelling fans, who were also superb throughout.
Hull City: Allan McGregor, Maynor Figueroa, James Chester, Curtis Davies, Ahmed Elmohamady, Tom Huddlestone, Robert Koren (George Boyd 75), Jake Livermore, Robbie Brady, Sone Aluko (Stephen Quinn 70), Danny Graham.
Subs Not Used: Steve Harper, Paul McShane, Alex Bruce, Liam Rosenior, David Meyler.
Man City: Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Aleksandar Kolarov, Matija Nastasic, Joeleon Lescott, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, David Silva (Samir Nasri 65), Sergio Aguero (James Milner 76), Edin Dzeko (Alvaro Negredo 46), Jesus Navas.
Subs Not Used: Costel Pantilimon, Gael Clichy, Javi Garcia, Stevan Jovetic.
Referee: Mr P. Dowd.