Fo­den bounces back City young­ster on tar­get af­ter Reyk­javik dis­grace

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Ja­son Burt at Mo­lineux

This felt like one of those oc­ca­sions when Manch­ester City had read the re­ports and heard the anal­y­sis of Liver­pool’s state­ment vic­tory over Chelsea and ac­cepted the chal­lenge. They wanted to take con­trol. They want to be in this Pre­mier League ti­tle race.

The achieve­ment of win­ning at Wolves should not be un­der­es­ti­mated, es­pe­cially with sev­eral key play­ers ab­sent, and while there was a pe­riod in the sec­ond half when the home side spurned four chances and City wob­bled alarm­ingly un­der fierce pres­sure, they were able to man­age the game once they ac­tu­ally did con­cede. Maybe it would have been dif­fer­ent if Mo­lineux had been a bay­ing full house, urg­ing Adama Traore to con­tinue run­ning riot.

Given City are the last Pre­mier League side to get their cam­paign un­der way and the elon­gated na­ture of last sea­son, there were rea­sons why they could not main­tain their first-half fe­roc­ity, which made the re­sult all the more im­pres­sive.

It is a com­pli­ment to City that they achieved an in­ten­sity so sorely lack­ing from Manch­ester United – who have had sim­i­lar prepa­ra­tions – at the week­end.

There was frus­tra­tion, though. Ra­heem Ster­ling, who had been so prom­i­nent, was clearly ir­ri­tated at be­ing sub­sti­tuted for new sign­ing Fer­ran Tor­res, even though it was late on as City held on in a game in which they had threat­ened to sweep Wolves aside. Maybe it just showed his com­pet­i­tive na­ture and, while John Stones largely did well along­side £41mil­lion new sign­ing Nathan Ake in the cen­tre of de­fence and on his re­turn to the team, did he do enough? Re­plays of the Wolves goal – with Raul Jimenez pow­er­ing in an un­chal­lenged header – did not look great for Stones as he stood watch­ing. He knows Pep Guardi­ola is in the mar­ket for another cen­tre-half.

Guardi­ola had spo­ken about “fire and de­sire” and he was re­warded in the first half as Phil Fo­den im­pressed along­side with Kevin De Bruyne, who once more was sim­ply sub­lime.

As the game un­folded it ap­peared highly un­likely that Guardi­ola would be punch­ing the air in re­lief at the fi­nal whis­tle. There was a Var check as Ster­ling stum­bled in the Wolves penalty area within two min­utes and there was a spot-kick awarded within 20 min­utes.

It was fool­ish from de­fender Ro­main Saiss, who slid in need­lessly to catch De Bruyne just in­side the area as he shaped to cross. It was De Bruyne who then stepped up to pow­er­fully beat Rui Pa­tri­cio from the spot. The PFA Player of the Year had al­ready got City up and run­ning.

The weight of the pass to De Bruyne had helped cre­ate the op­por­tu­nity and it came from Fo­den, start­ing for City and hop­ing to move on from be­ing sent home from Eng­land duty in dis­grace. The 20-year-old con­tin­ued to catch the eye and claimed City’s sec­ond goal when he fin­ished a sump­tu­ous move as De Bruyne played the ball through to Ster­ling, who had the chance to shoot but also the pres­ence of mind to know his team-mate was bet­ter placed. The ball was pulled back to Fo­den, who swept it first time into the net. It was a text­book Guardi­ola goal.

Wolves had com­pleted a league dou­ble over City last sea­son, but ap­peared strangely in­tim­i­dated and were in­debted to Pa­tri­cio for a fine block from De Bruyne to at least give coach Nuno Espir­ito Santo the chance to re-or­gan­ise and pro­vide hope at half-time.

He did just that. Wolves were trans­formed, with Traore run­ning at Ben­jamin Mendy and Daniel Po­dence full of pace and trick­ery. Guardi­ola will have been con­cerned at how his side strug­gled. Firstly Traore picked out Po­dence, who swiv­elled and shot into the side-net­ting. Then Pe­dro Neto’s pull­back was stepped over by Po­dence, only for Ruben Neves to shoot weakly.

Soon af­ter, Neves re­leased Po­dence, who had held his run clev­erly. Through on goal he scooped his shot on to the roof of the net, be­fore Traore again worked his way to the by­line and crossed for Jimenez, who side-footed wide.

Jimenez did score when Po­dence nut­megged De Bruyne and crossed for the striker to rise un­chal­lenged and power his header be­yond Eder­son.

Wolves sensed a come­back, but in fact it was City who threat­ened, with Pa­tri­cio turn­ing away a low drive by Je­sus be­fore he was beaten with the fi­nal kick off the match. De Bruyne picked out Je­sus, who showed strength and deter­mi­na­tion to cre­ate the space for a shot that de­flected off Conor Coady. It beat Pa­tri­cio at his near post and se­cured a pre­cious three points. Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers (3-4-3) Pa­tri­cio 6; Boly 6, Coady 7, Saiss 5; Traore 8, Moutinho 5 (Den­don­cker 78), Neves 6, Mar­cal 5 (Vi­na­gre 8); Po­dence 8, Jimenez 7, Neto 6 (Silva 78). Subs Ruddy (g), Vit­inha, Kil­man, Buur. Manch­ester City (4-2-3-1) Eder­son 6; Walker 6, Stones 5, Ake 6, Mendy 5; Ro­dri 6, Fer­nand­inho 6; Fo­den 7, De Bruyne 9, Ster­ling 7 (Tor­res 82); Je­sus 6. Subs St­ef­fen (g), Mahrez, Ota­mendi, De­lap, Doyle, Bernarbe.

Booked Mendy, Je­sus, Ro­dri.

Ref­eree An­dre Mar­riner (West Mid­lands).

Clin­i­cal: Phil Fo­den showed his bet­ter qual­i­ties again last night, scor­ing Manch­ester City’s sec­ond, fin­ish­ing off a slick move as they man­aged a 3-1 vic­tory against Wolves with Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Je­sus also net­ting

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