Manchester City claim 10th straight win as they shrug off battling Swansea
Premier League, Liberty Stadium – Swansea 1 (Llorente 13) Manchester City 3 (Aguero 9, 65pen; Sterling 77)
Sergio Aguero struck twice on his return from suspension as Manchester City came through a tough test against Swansea before running out 3-1 winners in their Premier League clash at the Liberty Stadium.
Pep Guardiola's men failed to click for long spells in the first hour, but came through in the end thanks to Aguero's brace and a goal from Raheem Sterling to make it six wins from six in the league, and 10 out of 10 in all competitions. wansea, meanwhile, look in more trouble than ever after an impressive first hour after which they were overrun. Francesco Guidolin's future was already in doubt, and now his job security seems shakier than ever.
Guardiola's City kept on winning in the absence of their Argentine striker, but it took him just nine minutes to remind them why they need him as he nutmegged Lukasz Fabianski to score.
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring their second goalReuters
Yet his presence appeared to have unsettled rather than strengthened a City side who'd continued to win in his absence, and the Swans were good value for both their equaliser four minutes later. That came via a first goal in 15 matches for Fernando Llorente – and it was a beauty, the Spaniard lashing home with a half-volley after Bacary Sagna slipped over to give him space.
Swansea kept City at bay thereafter, even matching them for long spells. But a tactical switch from Pep Guardiola to bring Kevin de Bruyne into the centre of the pitch saw City begin to dominate – though Swansea held out well until 25 minutes left to go.
Swansea City v Manchester City - Premier League - Liberty Stadium - 24/9/16 - Fernando LlorenteReuters
That was the moment that Mike van der Hoorn senselessly raised an arm to De Bruyne in the box, despite having already blocked off any danger. Aguero tangoed his way to the ball in his run-up before chipping gently into the centre of the net, leaving Fabianski on the deck.
That left City well and truly in control, and their superiority was rewarded as Sterling finished off a beautiful run with a lovely touch to beat the last defender before tucking his fourth goal of the season into the bottom left corner to put the match beyond doubt.
The only remaining twist was De Bruyne hobbling off after a big challenge put him on the deck - the look in his eyes as he left the field suggested it was precaution rather than worry which lay behind his substitution, though speculation is already under way that it is a hamstring.
City and Swans opposite sides of the same coin: Guardiola's men have now won 10 consecutive matches – and carved out an easy win in South Wales despite not clicking as they have done so often this season. That is the trait of title-winning sides. Swansea, however, have the opposite problem: despite impressing for long spells, they ended up on the wrong side of a 3-1 scoreline. And that, sadly, is the trait of sides that get relegated.
Swansea City v Manchester City - Premier League: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on the bench with Domenec TorrentReuters
MAN OF THE MATCH
Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City): He had a quiet first half, but after being moved to the centre of the pitch for the second period was an unstoppable force going forward - and also a fearsome defensive presence when tracking back, at one point intercepting what might otherwise have been a Swansea equaliser. What more could you ask for?
Manchester City: Bravo 7, Sagna 7, Otamendi 7, Stones 6, Kolarov 7, Fernandinho 7, Gundogan 6, Silva 7, De Bruyne 8, Sterling 8, Aguero 8
6' - DISALLOWED! Swansea get the ball in the net as Sigurdsson pounces on a loose ball just outside the box and smashes home - but the whistle had already goal for Cork doing a WWE move to fling Stones out of the way to create the chance.
9' - GOAL FOR SERGIO AGUERO! A long ball across to Sagna in space on the right and he croses it in for the Argentine. Makes himself four yards with a perfect first touch, then nutmegs the keeper to score! Incredible!
13' - LLORENTE SCORES! Swansea keep the ball from the earlier chance being cleared, and Sigurdsson slips the ball through for Fernando Llorente - who makes the most of a Sagna slip to smash home on the half volley. What a way to break a 15-match drought...!
57' - AGUERO DENIED - WHAT A TACKLE! A wonderful run from Silva ends with a ball in to Aguero, who cushions it and shapes to shoot... only to be taken out by Amat with a stunning last-ditch tackle. Great defending; Aguero will be kicking himself for not shooting first time.
64' - PENALTY! Van der Hoorn on De Bruyne, but it was a very, VERY silly one. The ball had fallen to De Bruyne in the box and Van Der Hoorn had it covered... but he stupidly flicked his hand back and caught the Belgian in the face. Yellow card as well. The crazy thing is that Van der Hoorn had no reason at all to bring his hand back - if he hadn't, he would never have been penalised.
65' - AGUERO SCORES FROM THE SPOT! The most ludicrous stilted run-up you'll ever see works as Fabianski jumps out of the way, and the Argentine chips it softly down the centre.
77' - GOAL FOR CITY - AND IT'S STERLING! Britton is caught out by Silva back in the City half and the break is at lightning speed - with Sterling unleashed into the box. He has Aguero in support but chooses to take on Van der Hoorn... and totally owns him, slipping past and slotting hom past Fabianski. Magical goal.
This was the first time in the league this season that Manchester City didn't lead at half-time.
Sergio Aguero now has 11 goals this season in all competitions - and 28 in his last 27 Premier League matches.
Manchester City are the only side to have scored the first goal in every one of their six Premier League games this season.
Raheem Sterling has scored four goals and assisted five more in eight competitive appearances for Man City this season.
Pep Guardiola has won his first six games as a Premier League manager, equalling the record set by Carlo Ancelotti in 2009-10. Manchester City have won their first 10 games in all competitions this season – the only previous top-flight side to have more from the start of a season are Tottenham Hostpur (first 11 games in all comps) in 1960-61.