A GOAL FROM the prolific Alvaro Negredo and two second-half efforts from Samir Nasri ensured Manchester City maintained the pressure on Premier League leaders Arsenal with a 3-0 win over Swansea at Eastlands.
The game was far from a formality, however, with Swansea enjoying the better of first half possession and chances after Negredo claimed his eighth goal in his last seven games for City, before Nasri’s double put the result beyond doubt.
When Negredo struck after just eight minutes, a Swansea side depleted by injuries to key players Michu and Wilfried Bony must have feared that they were about to be on the receiving end of another mauling at the Etihad from a City side that had scored seven, five, six and four goals, respectively, in their last four home games.
The Spain international won a free-kick after being tripped by Jose Canas on the edge of the area and curled the ball around the wall and into the left-hand corner of the goal, a shot so devastating that Swansea goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel did not move.
Tremmel had already been called upon, saving from Sergio Aguero after 30 seconds and was required to be even more alert when he dived smartly to his left to turn a crisp Negredo strike around the post.
But, after going a goal behind, Swansea’s midfield took an increasing grip on proceedings, especially their former Liverpool playmaker Jonjo Shelvey, and began to expose weaknesses in a City central defence missing Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic.
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Shelvey was inexplicably allowed space to attempt two long-range shots which were comfortably dealt with by Costel Pantilimon, still preferred to Joe Hart in the City goal.
It was a nervy spell for the home side and Shelvey’s well-timed pass played in Alvaro Vazquez after 21 minutes, only for the Swans forward to screw his shot wide with the goal exposed.
Finally, City responded around the half hour mark with Aguero’s near-post shot winning a corner from which Martin Demichelis planted a powerful header against the cross-bar.
But Swansea concluded the opening half in the ascendancy with Pablo Hernandez appealing for a penalty after Demichelis appeared to tug at his shirt and, seconds before the whistle, Jonathan de Guzman missed their best chance of the first period when he skied a shot over from seven yards.
Shortly after Aguero had shown sublime skill to beat Ashley Williams and Tremmel before shooting wide from a tight angle, City were 2-0 ahead in the 58th minute.
Yaya Toure’s pass found the alert Nasri, whose superb control allowed him to ghost into the Swansea area past static defenders before shooting past Tremmel from 10 yards.
The goal finally broke Swansea’s resolve and Aguero, in particular, seemed determined to add his name to the scoresheet and came within inches after 72 minutes, sending a low shot skidding just wide.
It was to be his last action in the contest, the Argentinian being replaced by Edin Dzeko.
James Milner sent Pablo Zabaleta away down the right and the full-back picked out Nasri, who clinically grabbed his second goal of the match from a dozen yards.
Nasri might have claimed a hat-trick as Dzeko fed him on the break but, even at less than their sparking best, City had long since done enough to defeat Swansea.
- © AFP, 2013