0-1 (Tevez 32), 0-2 (Garrido 69), 0-3 (Tevez 86)
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 28 December 2009 22:11
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
Roberto Mancini’s winning start to life in the Barclays Premier League continued when City battled hard to earn their first away win since August on a cold night in the West Midlands.
A pair from Carlos Tevez and a free kick from Javier Garrido meant that the Blues’ new boss would go into 2010 on the back of six points won, five goals scored and no goals conceded.
In truth, City might have won by a wider margin and Tevez could have had a hat-trick, but his miss at 2-0 did not matter when he pounced to seal the victory in the dying minutes. Craig Bellamy ignored the vitriol from the home fans to turn in a trademark, all-action display that should have featured a couple of goals, but his missed chances did not matter in the long run after City had weathered the storm early on.
There were two changes from the side that started Mancini’s first game in charge of City. Micah Richards returned at right-back, with the multipurpose Pablo Zabaleta shifting over to left-back in place of Sylvinho. Further up the field, Robinho moved to the bench and Craig Bellamy would start on the left, with Martin Petrov on the right. Saturday’s performance was marked by fluidity in formation and there were no guarantees that it would stay like this as the game wore on.
But it was the hosts who had the majority of the play for the opening spell of the game, although it was not until 20 minutes had elapsed that Shay Given was forced into action when Henry got a shot in on target.
As with the Stoke game, the City manager was prepared to change tack when he felt necessary, and the side he had named certainly had that capability. Henry’s shot and a lack of threat up to that point may have prompted it, but the switch of Petrov to the left seemed to do the trick, with the Blues finally asserting themselves.
Bellamy spurned City’s best opportunity on the half hour, Tevez twisting and turning before crossing, but at the second bite of the cherry the ball flew well over the bar.
But the fiery Welshman, the target for unbroken abuse from the home fans, made amends just a couple of minutes later when he set up Carlos Tevez for City’s opening goal. Bellamy’s break down the left was followed by a pull-back to the Argentinean, lurking just inside the area. His left-footed shot took a wicked deflection off the unlucky Berra, and with Hahnemann wrong-footed the ball zipped into the net, Carlos’ seventh goal in as many games. Roberto Mancini allowed himself a modest punch of the air – no touchline histrionics here (yet?) – and the City faithful were serenading him as they eyed a nice reward for braving the M6 and the freezing conditions.
The new manager’s mantra seems to be that every player must do his defensive duty, and Tevez’s just-to-make-sure header from Elokobi’s goalwards nod showed he had obviously been listening. The first half’s remaining talking point was a long delay in play while a groggy Berra was treated following a heads-first landing on the Molineux turf. It was the defender’s swan-song, Stearman replacing him after the break.
Within a couple of minutes of the restart, City should have doubled the lead. A sublime combination on the left between Petrov and Tevez allowed Bellamy to race clear, but his dink past Hahnemann bobbled across the face of goal. Wolves could have punished City just afterwards, Iwelumu’s rasping shot flying over at the end of an excellent move.
Given brought off an unspectacular but important save with his knee to deny Doyle on the hour, and this was a prelude to City’s second from the unlikeliest of sources.
You would have got long odds on Javier Garrido getting on the scoresheet this season, or even the pitch, given that he had not featured at all until a brief substitute appearance against Stoke on Boxing Day. However the Spanish left-back, on as a replacement for Ireland, bagged his second for the club with 22 minutes left when he bent a free kick from left of the box around the wall and past a static Hahnemann. His only other goal was also a free kick, against Liverpool last season, and he was deservedly mobbed by his team mates with whom he is clearly very popular.
Mick McCarthy was incensed, feeling that an offside should have been given in the build-up to the free kick and tempers frayed all over, Hahnemann and Tevez irking Mike Jones into action in short order.
City had a long spell where Wolves could not get near the ball, and then with nine minutes left a lovely move did not end with the goal it deserved. A couple of quick touches from Zabaleta and Bellamy put Tevez in on goal, but his finish let him down and what would have been a goal for the end of season DVD went begging.
But he did not let the miss affect him, and with a few minutes to go he had his second of the night. Robinho was on for Petrov by now and his first touch was a pass drilled across the box to the Argentinean, who put the ball onto his left before driving it back across goal and beyond Hahnemann to seal a fine win.