Raheem Sterling stood out as Manchester City earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over Wolves to consolidate their place atop the Premier League table.
Manchester City dominated the proceedings from the get-go but struggled to create meaningful chances in the first half, with Wolverhampton Wanderers being typically resolute at the back. The most notable moment of the opening period was the clash of heads between Ruben Neves and Max Kilman, with both the Wolves players requiring a lengthy treatment period.
As half-time approached, an odd piece of decision-making saw Raul Jimenez being sent off, as he first held Rodri to earn his first yellow before blocking the resulting free-kick to get a second booking. Down to ten men, Wolves came out in the second half under the cosh and needed Conor Coady to clear Ilkay Gundogan’s close-range header off the line.
The deadlock was finally broken midway through the second half when Manchester City earned a penalty courtesy of a contentious handball by Joao Moutinho from Bernardo Silva’s cross. Raheem Sterling stepped up to take the resulting penalty and made no error in slotting the ball home from twelve yards out.
After that, Manchester City had a few more chances to put the result beyond any doubt, only for Jose Sa and Max Kilman to stand in the way of Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden, respectively. However, Sterling’s goal was enough to earn a 1-0 win, giving the Premier League champions all three points in the process. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Pep Guardiola’s men.
Ederson Moraes: 6/10
Ederson enjoyed one of the easiest outings of his career, having had just one regulation save to make all game. The Manchester City no. 1 completed each of his attempted passes, earning a clean sheet at the end of the proceedings.
Joao Cancelo: 7/10
Cancelo was the most potent outlet for Manchester City against Wolves, as he played several clever passes. However, his four key passes either had too much weight on them or were not capitalised on by a teammate. The Portuguese international was also booked late in the game, which means he will miss out against Leeds United in Manchester City’s next game.
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Ruben Dias: 6/10
With Wolves failing to trouble their hosts, Ruben Dias barely had any defending to do and instead concentrated his efforts on building up play efficiently from the back. That is a task he excels at, and he completed all but two of his attempted passes.
Aymeric Laporte: 6/10
Much like Dias, Laporte had the afternoon off when it came to defending. However, he looked determined to make an impact at the opposite end of the pitch, coming close to scoring on one occasion. And like his central defensive partner, the Spanish international barely misplaced a pass, retaining an excellent completion rate of 97 per cent.
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 6/10
With Kyle Walker given a breather and Cancelo deployed as the right-back, Zinchenko started as the left-back. The Ukrainian international linked up smartly with Jack Grealish on his side of the pitch and spent most of the game in the opposition half. However, he could not create any chance of note, although he did force a save out of Jose Sa in the second half.
Ilkay Gundogan: 6/10
Gundogan endured a difficult game as he tried to pull the strings but struggled to carve out the openings. However, he completed all but three of his attempted passes and came close to scoring, only to be denied off the line by Conor Coady shortly before being taken off.
Apart from one hairy moment while defending Adama Traore, Rodri was extremely comfortable at the base of the Manchester City midfield. Otherwise, the Spaniard had nothing to worry about all game and cut out the plays that Wolves attempted to build up with ease. That he completed 94 per cent of his passes further helped Manchester City to have a firm control on the proceedings.
Jack Grealish: 6/10
Starting on the left side of the Manchester City attack, Grealish returned to the role that he reprised so marvellously when he was at Manchester City. However, the Englishman’s struggles continued on Saturday, as he was pinned to the left flank for the most part instead of foraying into the Wolves box. A horrible miss from point-blank range summed up another difficult game for him.
Bernardo Silva: 7/10
Silva has been the man in form for Manchester City in recent weeks, and he was once again purposeful in his display in the game. The Portuguese international could not carve out any major openings, but he did earn the hosts the game-changing penalty, even though it was a controversial decision by Jon Moss. Job done, though.
Gabriel Jesus: 7/10
Jesus might not have a goal or an assist to show for his efforts, but the Brazilian posed a lot of threat in the final third on Saturday. He constantly roamed in and around the Wolves box, bringing Grealish, Silva and Sterling into the game. And it was only a magnificent save by Sa that denied him a goal from point-blank range.
Raheem Sterling: 8/10
Raheem Sterling is the 32nd player to score 100 Premier League goals.
◎ 18 for Liverpool
◉ 82 for Man City
It’s taken him 304 games to join the 💯club. pic.twitter.com/YVu18IUyNZ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 11, 2021
Sterling has been impressive in recent weeks, but the game on Saturday was a tricky one for the Englishman. While he tried to execute his usual mazy runs, there was no way past the stubborn Wolves defenders in the first half apart from one moment when he skipped past Romain Saiss.
However, he calmly slotted in his penalty after Moutinho handled Bernardo Silva’s cross to break the deadlock. After that, he was in a league of his own Sterling also created a superb chance for Grealish, only for the Englishman to miss from point-blank range. And another late opening for Foden late in the game was blocked by Max Kilman. He is enjoying a remarkable resurgence.
Phil Foden: 6/10
Introduced in place of Gundogan, Foden came close to scoring late in the game but was denied by a big block by Kilman.
Kevin De Bruyne: N/A
On for Grealish, De Bruyne did nothing of note in the final 15 minutes.