It may not be the most talked about sporting event of the day but Man City’s 3-1 victory over Hull provided plenty of entertainment.
What happened A photo finish was not required - it was won at a canter - while the only ‘mare’ in sight was the one Ahmed Elmohamady fell victim to when he put through his own net before Sergio Aguero swept home his 28th goal of the season and Fabian Delph netted a screamer. Andrea Ranocchia diverted in a consolation late on but it did little to spoil the day. As infrequent as the Grand National itself is the Manchester sunshine but it soaked the Etihad Stadium as the Blues bolted away from their challengers in the race for fourth. Pep Guardiola’s men headed into the clash with a superb record against the in-form Tigers (who had not won away at City since February 1930) but without a win in their last four Premier League games. In a bid to improve their fortunes by reinforcing home advantage, City opted to kick towards the South Stand in the second half – as they will do from now on. The Family Stand were treated to plenty of goalmouth action though, as the Blues laid siege on the visitors’ goal from the start. Inside five minutes, Eldin Jakupovic was called into action to produce an excellent double stop to deny David Silva – making his 300th appearance in sky blue – and then Leroy Sane. The Spaniard was played through by Sergio Aguero, as top scorer turned architect, but fired straight at the Hull goalkeeper. Sane’s rebound suffered the same fate. The Tigers were restricted to counter-attacks, which heralded little, as the Blues sprinted back in numbers and defended resolutely. It was a dominant opening quarter. Aguero, Sane, Delph and Yaya Toure all tried their luck from distance to no avail with a variety of strikes: a daisy-cutter, a rocket, a volley and a curler. Jakupovic then thwarted City again, tipping over a trademark Toure free-kick after Aguero had been scythed down by Evandro. The Ivorian then headed the resulting corner wide. The pressure finally paid off on the half-hour mark, courtesy of a superb cross from Jesus Navas, which Elmohamady poked over the line. A welcome stroke of luck but it was deserved. The visitors almost found an immediate response but Oumar Niasse somehow failed to convert from close range, before Silva almost marked his special day with a goal but couldn’t stretch enough to direct his effort on target. City sprinted out of the gates after the restart and doubled their lead within two minutes as Raheem Sterling – recalled to the starting XI – weaved his way into the box and forced Jakupovic into another stop. The Hull man could only parry into the path of Aguero, who made no mistake to bag his tenth goal in as many games. It was almost 3-0 a minute later with almost identical movement from Sterling, who delivered for Sane but the German’s close-range strike was blocked. Delph sealed the win with an arrow into the far corner from the edge of the area, ensuring Ranocchia's late strike proved a mere consolation.
Team notes Guardiola made four changes from the side that lost at Chelsea in midweek, as Claudio Bravo, Sterling, Aleks Kolarov and Toure returned to the starting XI in place of Willy Caballero, Kevin De Bruyne, Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho. Bacary Sagna, Nicolas Otamendi, Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan were absent through injury, while Fernandinho was rested.
What it means? City move seven points clear of Arsenal and Man United, who have games in hand.
What’s next? City travel to Southampton on Saturday 15 April in the day's late kick-off (5:30pm).
Manchester City (3): Bravo, Sterling, Agüero, Kolarov, Navas, Delph, Sané (Nolito 65), Silva (Iheanacho 73), Clichy, Stones, Touré (Fernando 73)