Manchester City made it 10 wins out of 10 under Pep Guardiola with a 3-1 victory over Swansea City.
Sergio Aguero returned from a three-match domestic suspension to score either side of Fernando Llorente’s maiden Swansea goal, as the hosts posed plenty of questions for the Premier League leaders in a display that should offer encouragement to under-fire boss Francesco Guidolin.
Aguero’s second of the game and 11th in six appearances this season came from the penalty spot in the 65th minute of a pulsating contest, which Raheem Sterling settled decisively with a breakaway goal 13 minutes from time.
Guardiola’s team are now four points ahead of Tottenham at the summit, who they face at White Hart Lane next week on the back of a Champions League trip to Celtic, though the sight of Kevin De Bruyne hobbling off late on put a dampener on the Spaniard’s afternoon.
The opening goal arrived via some wonderfully incisive penalty-box play from Aguero in the ninth minute – his touch taking Bacary Sagna’s low cross out of his feet and creating space to drive a finish through Lukasz Fabianski’s legs.
Swansea were scarcely affected by the setback and, after Claudio Bravo saved a deflected attempt from Llorente, the former Juventus man controlled Gylfi Sigurdsson’s pass as Sagna lost his footing and lashed a rising left-footed shot into the right corner
Guidolin’s men continued to threaten as Llorente made a nuisance of himself and driving runs forward from the likes of Sigurdsson and Wayne Routledge asked persistent questions of Guardiola’s high defensive line.
Aguero rippled the roof of the net with a curling 25-yarder and Mike van der Hoorn did likewise from Angel Rangel’s cross at the other end, with the furious pace unrelenting.
De Bruyne should have restored City’s lead with a third goal in as many league matches, but dragged wide when a clever flick from Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan’s first-time pass sent him clear of the Swansea defence.
Aleksandar Kolarov could not bundle home Nicolas Otamendi’s header from a De Bruyne free-kick and it remained all square at the interval.
Routledge looked to remedy that as Swansea made the better start to the second period but slid the pass too far ahead of Llorente and beyond the far post after linking nicely with Sigurdsson.
The action continued to flow from end to end, with blocks from Jordi Amat and Van der Hoorn denying De Bruyne and Aguero respectively either side of Sigurdsson smashing a 54th-minute volley.
De Bruyne was operating more centrally after the break and to greater effect, releasing Sterling to shoot into the side netting from an acute angle with an hour played.
The Belgian won the penalty that allowed Manchester City to restore their lead as Van der Hoorn clumsily put an arm cross his face and he tumbled to the floor.
Aguero lifted the spot kick into the centre of the goal as Fabianski tumbled away to his left.
Swansea’s goalkeeper saved superbly when a deflected David Silva shot appeared to be spinning under his crossbar and Fernandinho headed the resulting corner wide.
It took a Swansea set-piece for Guardiola’s men to add their third, with De Bruyne streaming forward and Sterling producing a wonderful piece of skill to beat Kyle Naughton – ignoring Aguero’s pleas for a pass – before slottng in.
There was concern for the Manchester City boss during the closing stages as the influential De Bruyne hobbled off, but he was left to one of the harder-earned wins in a perfect 10.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!