Hull 2 Manchester City 4: Bruce admits better side won

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero is tackled by Hull City's Curtis Davies.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero is tackled by Hull City's Curtis Davies.

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SECOND-HALF goals from Edin Dzeko and substitute Frank Lampard settled a pulsating contest which ebbed and flowed with Hull City giving the Premier League champions an almighty scare before going down.

Dzeko’s coolly-taken second goal of the game on 68 minutes and a late fourth from Lampard ensured the points went west on the M62 back to Manchester in an encounter which saw the Tigers hit back in inspired fashion after trailing 2-0 after just 11 minutes.

An own goal from Eliaquim Mangala, who had an awful first-half and a penalty from Adel Hernandez, after Mangala fouled the Tigers’ £10m record signing, restored parity at the interval, only for the visitors to ultimately prevail after a couple of moments of class on the restart.

A breathless half of football saw the Blues dine out on seconds on Yorkshire fare for the second time this week, only for the hosts to claw their way back into proceedings, displaying desire and conviction allied to an intensity of character as the visitors wilted fitfully.

Eleven minutes in and it looked likely to prove a damage limitation exercise for the Tigers, whose litany of concessions this term continued with visiting marksmen Sergio Aguero and Dzeko burying chances with mercilessly efficiency.

The tone for an absorbing half was set inside the first minute when Aguero’s rising effort from a narrow angle was tipped over by Allan McGregor.

At the other end, Nikica Jelavic, cajoled by Steve Bruce to give the visiting defence nightmares, was inches away from touching in Jake Livermore’s cross after the visitors defence switched off.

Moments later, Manuel Pellegrini’s side were ahead, with Aguero clinically home, with the Argentinian fatally left with time and space in the box after the hosts failed to clear Pablo Zabaleta’s header.

Four minutes later, with just 11 minutes played, the champions displayed title class in doubling their money.

David Silva slipped in Dzeko, although danger did not appear prevalent.

The Bosnian then cut inside Liam Rosenior, who replaced Stephen Quinn in the only change to the starting line-up who took the field seven days earlier at Newcastle, before unleashing a stunning 30-yard curling shot which flew past the helpless McGregor.

The strike represented Manchester City’s ninth against White Rose opponents in the space of under an hour after slamming in seven in a second-half bombardmnent against Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup in midweek, with Hull fans entitled to be fearful at the prospect of several more.

But to their credit, Hull, who had slipped nine goals in their previous four matches, hung in there and claimed a lifeline on 21 minutes, albeit with a great deal of thanks to Mangala.

The French international defender, who cost a cool £32m from Porto in the summer, looked hesistant along with Gael Clichy and both blotted their copybook to enable Hull to pull one back.

Ahmed Elmohamady got the better of Clichy before sending over a well-placed cross which was emphatically headed past his own keeper Willy Caballero, prefered to England number one Joe Hart.

It was just the incentive and morale-booster that the Tigers were craving as they suddenly set about the visitors with intent, led by Mo Diame.

That said, the home defence did have another scare when the ultra-alert Aguero shot just wide, but soon after it was all-square.

Mangala’s nightmare first period was complete when his clumsy and high challenge felled Hull’s record signing Hernandez in the box, with Anthony Taylor showing no hesistation in pointing to the spot.

The £10m Uruguayan international, who netted a stunner on his home debut against West Ham in the previous match at the KC Stadium, coolly sent Caballero the wrong way to make it 2-2.

Before the interval, Yaya Toure, who had a first-half in the slow lane, fired over before Hernandez heading at Caballero, with Hull’s rally bringing raucous applause from the home fans at the half-time whistle.

Hull’s intent was again noticeable on the restart, although the best chance fell to Yaya Toure, whose blistering 25-yarder shuddered the post with McGregor beaten.

The visitors were able to monopolise possession, but Hull’s spirit and work ethic was pronounced as they kept in the game, backed by the home faithful who had warmed to their efforts.

But it was Manchester City, who were to make the telling move when Dzeko fired them back in front midway through the second period.

A neat passage of play saw Silva supply the big striker and he confidently steered the ball low past McGregor to no doubt ease a few nerves in the away end and among the management staff on the bench.

Toure, who had a mixed afternoon to say the least, then saw his curler turned away by McGregor, with Hull boss Steve Bruce seeking to wrestle back the initiative by making a double change to throw on Hatem Ben Arfa and Gaston Ramirez.

In the final ten minutes, Hull went close twice to a leveller, before the visitors strolled up the pitch and put gloss on their triumph with a late fourth.

Ahead of that, Jelavic saw a shot on the turn beaten away by Caballero and moments later, Tom Huddlestone’s shot was agonisingly deflected just over the top.

The issue was then settled when a breakaway ended with Lampard tucking home his third goal in a week for the Blues.

Hull boss Steve Bruce was buoyed by his players’ response to Manchester City’s blistering start but admitted they had ultimately been beaten by the better side.

“We had an awful 10-15 minutes at the start and it shows character that they rolled their sleeves up and got back into it,” said Bruce.

“For a good hour after that it could have gone either way. We weren’t quite good enough but we gave it a right good go and against a quality team like them that’s all you can ask for.

“City are a class act. They want to go and beat you, they want to go and give every team a hammering and they’ve got the players to go that.

“Aguero, Dezeko and David Silva, in particular, are wonderful footballers and they’ll give every team problems.”

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