Aguero 40mins, Dzeko 88mins
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- 14 May 2013 21:59
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc
City put their Wembley misery behind them to secure second place in the Premier League with a one-sided victory over Reading.
With Roberto Mancini relieved of first-team duties on Monday night, Brian Kidd took charge for the trip to Berkshire.
City went into this clash with Nigel Adkins’ relegated side knowing that a point would be enough to secure second place in the league at a place where the Blues have never won a Premier League match.
It was a lightning start from the Blues, with Aguero the first to test Alex McCarthy in the Royals goal after three minutes with a fierce effort from the edge of the area which followed an intricate, flowing passing move involving Silva, Milner and Barry.
The Blues were clearly in no mood to patiently draw out Adkins’ men; instead they set about pinning the home side back in their final game at the Madejski Stadium of the season.
This early domination was interrupted by an injury to Kolo Toure after 14 minutes which prompted a reshuffle by Kidd, with Richards moving into the centre of defence and Maicon coming into the game at right-back.
City were at their slick, innovative best and produced another couple of golden chances to take the lead on the half-hour mark, the best of which fell to Tevez with a powerful header which McCarthy was somehow equal to.
Milner was involved in all of the away side’s best work, drifting in from wide to link the play, along with co-conspirator Silva, who bewitched the Reading defence with his sly pivots, dropped shoulders and flicked passes around right-angled corners.
However, in some ways that first half was turning into the story of the season in a microcosm, with the possession and shot counter ratcheting up in the Blues' favour but an inspired opposition goalkeeping performance and a host of missed chances meant that City failed to showcase this superiority on the scoreboard.
That was until the 40th minute when City finally found the cut to go with the thrust.
From a short corner, Milner played a one-two with Silva and slipped the ball into Aguero, who didn’t even take a touch to bring the ball out of his feet, side-footing past McCarthy into the far corner from the edge of the penalty box.
Devastating one-touch football, with precision passing, movement and a clinical finish to match.
In all, there were 10 shots on target for City in that barnstorming first-half and plenty of positive points for Kidd to make in his half-time briefing.
Five minutes into the second half, Reading were first to trouble either goal when Pogrebnyak met a cross from the right with a diving header but Joe Hart produced an excellent save to maintain City’s advantage.
City then picked up where they left off in the first-half with more quick-fire interchanges and Yaya Toure was next to test McCarthy with a shot that looked destined for the far corner until the talented young stopper’s finger-tipped intervention.
A couple more changes followed, with Javi Garcia entering the fray in place of Gareth Barry and Dzeko coming on for Aguero, who appeared to trudge off in some discomfort after straining to get on the end of a Milner cross.
The excellent, tireless Milner continued to heavily influence proceedings and nearly set up City’s second with another cross which Dzeko flicked on for Richards to attempt an extravagant bicycle kick which wasn’t too far away from the target.
Reading had a dangerous ten-minute spell from the 75th minute, during which time Tevez was required to clear off the line from Mariappa, Lescott got in the way of a McCleary effort and Karacan forced Hart into another sprawling stop.
In truth, an equaliser would have flattered Reading despite their late rally and even the most ardent home fan would be hard pushed to argue against City deserving a second goal which Dzeko provided in the dying moments.
An inspired reverse pass from Silva found the Bosnian, who took a couple of touches before slotting calmly past McCarthy.
Finally City had a winning margin that reflected their dominance and a silver lining to a stormy week.