After two successive wins at home, the Citizens headed to the KCOM stadium to face Mike Phelan’s Hull side who were hoping to add some critical points to their tally. The Tigers had failed to scrap a win for 14 consecutive games, and looked pitiful at the bottom of the table. Having had some early misfortune, Pep Guardiola also refused to take the fixture casually.
While this would usually have been a throw-away game, the importance of the fixture was immense for both sides on this occasion.
Could Hull break their drought at the expense of City?
After infamously being left out from the XI in the preceding weeks, John Stones returned to the heart of defence alongside Otamendi; the French duo of Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy guarded opposing flanks, to form Manchester’s back-line for the night. Fernandinho returned to give the Citizens a major boost as he partnered alongisde Yaya Toure and David Silva to form the midfield triangle. Spearing the attack for City was the trio of Nolito, De Bruyne and Sterling.
Some early one touch passing put Manchester into a steady rhythm as they began dominating possession in the opening minutes of the game. Aware that pressing against a quick-passing side would work against them, Hull City chose to conserve energy from the go, letting City work the ball as they pleased, while the Tigers focused their attention to guarding the fort.
Hull City conceded a dangerous free-kick as Dawson brought De Bruyne down, 30 yards away from goal. Yaya Toure took the resulting free-kick and made the keeper work as his shot curled towards the near post. Marshall however, palmed it over the cross-bar.
After some confusion in the dug out, John Stones came off in the 15th minute for Kolarov after getting injured mid-play.
Despite playing on the front foot, Manchester City were struggling to find holes in the opposition defence, which meant that large stretches of the game were filled with dull passing.
Hull City began to see more of the ball as the minutes passed by, and looked to create openings for that elusive first goal against Manchester City.
Some excellent work from De bruyne and Nolito created the first dangerous chance for Manchester City from open play, but the keeper was on hand to restrain the Spaniard’s shot under control at the half hour mark.
Another passing move from Nolito and De Bruyne found Raheem Sterling just outside the box, but the England international struck his shot high and into the stands.
City began mounting pressure at the end of half time as they broke free on the counter, with Silva finding Nolito on the left wing, but his low cross was stopped by Davies midway and the rest of the half passed by uneventfully.
As the second half resumed, the game settled into the same rhythm as the first 45 minutes; neither team appeared to have the edge, as they continued to hack at each other aimlessly, hoping for a miracle.
In the 53rd minute, Kevin De Bruyne received the ball on the left edge of the box, before he spanked the ball with his right foot ferociously. Unfortunately, the shot deflects after pinging off the near post.
Moments later, Guardiola would make the second change of the game, as he took of Nolito for Iheanacho. While it wasn't shocking to see Nolito come off, it seemed like the move had probably backfired, as Hull City began picking up momentum in the following minutes.
Dawson almost broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute, but his effort was headed away by Sagna off the line. While the first half had been barren, the second half had seen both teams come close to making the score-board tick.
With less than twenty minutes left, Raheem Sterling found himself on the ground as he got brought down by Robertson in the box. Yaya Toure was on hand to calmly slot away the resulting penalty and give City the advantage.
Hull had managed to hold the fort incredibly well for more than an hour, but the moment they went down, it looked like the resolve of the entire team began to crack under the pressure.
Suddenly, City looked to be the dominant side as they created half chances to add to the lone goal of the game. Kevin De Bruyne played a late pass to David Silva, who squared the ball to Iheanacho. The Nigerian made no mistake as he slotted the ball home and made the score line a definite 0-2.
If that wasn't enough, Raheem Sterling would force an own goal through a dangerous cross which deflected off of Davies, to make it 0-3 just before the final whistle.
While the result is a good one, the scoreline paints a deceptive picture. On any other day, 0-3 seems like a resounding lead, but if one were to watch the game, they would know how difficult it was for Manchester City, before Hull began to crack under the weight of their own mistakes.
While the final tally was a result of the opposition's mistakes, it needs to be remembered that Manchester City have won three games on the trot, which will only boost the squad's confidence.
Here's to hoping that the team can use this victory as a springboard to move on to bigger and better things.
Onward and upward.