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26th November 2017

City battle for 2-1 win at Huddersfield

Goals from Sergio Agüero and Raheem Sterling retorted City’s eight-point lead at the top of the table

Manchester City maintained their unbeaten start to the league season as they won away at newly promoted Huddersfield Town. The home side opened the scoring with a Nicolás Otamendi own goal in injury time of the first half, before Sergio Agüero and Raheem Sterling both scored in the second.

The opening stages of the game consisted of City having plenty of the ball but seemingly being unable to get close to the Huddersfield goal. City found themselves unable to find the likes of Kevin de Bruyne or David Silva in the hole and the latter was dropping deep or wide to receive the ball.

The closest City came during this period was when Sergio Agüero prodded the ball into the net from a De Bruyne free-kick but the Argentine was flagged for offside.

Of the two wide players, out was Raheem Sterling, who was seeing most of the ball. With the centre of the pitch being very congested, City looked to use the wings to get in behind Huddersfield’s back line. Once or twice, Sterling did find himself with possession in behind but made little of the final ball.

The English winger missed City’s best chance of the first half after an Agüero shot was palmed into Sterling’s path. He didn’t move his feet quickly enough, and blazed wide from a short distance.

The home side were weathering the City storm well but lacked any quality when it was their turn to attack. Too often they would look to breakaway quickly, only for a poor pass to gift possession back to Pep Guardiola’s men.

With De Bruyne and Silva drifting wide, space was opened up in the middle, and Nicolás Otamendi looked to take advantage. The defender charged forward but ultimately fired his shot high and wide.

The half-time whistle was drawing ever nearer, but this period was not to end goalless. Huddersfield found themselves with a rare set piece as they lined up for a corner deep into injury time. Tom Ince’s in-swinging delivery was flicked on by Christopher Schindler, and Otamendi could do nothing but deflect the ball into his own net.

The John Smith’s Stadium erupted as the chance of an upset very quickly came on the cards.

This excitement only lasted the length of half-time though, as soon after the restart City scored an equaliser. After one denied penalty appeal, Sterling was successful in his second spot-kick appeal. Looking to get on the end of a through ball, Sterling was tugged back by Scott Malone and fell to the floor. Referee Craig Pawson showed no hesitation in pointing towards the spot.

Sergio Agüero stepped up and slotted the penalty to the right of the keeper to bring City level.

The away side began their search for a winner but continued to find themselves frustrated. Agüero was becoming increasingly anonymous and Guardiola was begging his team to provide more width in an attempt to create chances. To combat this, the manager introduced Gabriel Jesus in the place of Vincent Kompany and switched to a 3-3-4 formation.

This width eventually paid dividends, as Sterling cut inside from wide and played a quick one-two with De Bruyne. The attempted pass was cut out but fell to Gabriel Jesus who prodded goalwards. The keeper made a good save but played it straight onto Sterling. The ball looped up and then down into the back of the net to put City ahead for the first time in the game.

With a one-goal advantage, Guardiola introduced İlkay Gündoğan and Eliaquim Mangala to try and restore City’s possession domination. The team held on with their back five with Aaron Mooy’s free-kick being the only moment of danger. The Australian could only find the side netting from his spot kick. City survived the added five minutes and Rajiv van La Parra saw red during the final minutes, with a push to Leroy Sané’s face.

It was a hard-fought win, but one that restored City’s eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

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