Offshore drilling, England: at Manchester City 3, Queens Park Rangers 1

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Man of the Match: Carlos Tévez put in another excellent performance, the highlight of which was a brilliant run and cross on Edin Dzeko’s match-winner. With Aleksandr Kolarov in possession on the left, Tévez made a diagonal run through the penalty area, got behind the QPR defense to create an gimme for Dzeko. With QPR having just equalized, Tévez’s timing couldn’t have been better.

In stoppage time, Tévez took advantage from some QPR disorganization to register his third goal in as many games.

Involved in almost everything City goes in attack, it’s safe to say that (after a ridiculously tumultuous 2011-12) Tévez is fully back. Although I abhor the cliché, it does seem as is Tévez is like a new signing.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • At the onset, this game looked like it was going to be a bore. Mark Hughes had his team defending very deep. Even when City was kicking the ball around their defense, Queens Park Rangers’ line was scarcely 10 yards from the edge of their area, with Rangers’ two most advanced men (forwards Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson) reticent to leave their own half.
  • No surprise City was able to earn seven corner kicks in the first 16 minutes. By the time Yaya Touré broke through in the 16th minute (off a corner), City had a 126-20 advantage in completed passes.
  • In previous weeks, that much pressure on QPR’s defense would have cracked their line. Today, their back four was much improved. Ryan Nelson made his first Rangers’ appearance, starting to the left of Anton Ferdinand. José Bosingwa also took his QPR bow, starting out right.
  • Alejandro Faurlín and newly-acquired Esteban Granero were also making their first appearances of the season, while Shaun Wright-Phillips and Johnson got their first starts.
  • The changes looked like they were going to pay off in the 59th minute when Johnson beat Pablo Zabaleta to get a right-footed shot off from 16 yards. Joe Hart blocked it back across goal and into the path of Zamora, who had an easy finish for his second goal of the year. Does City always have to make life difficult on themselves?
  • Of course, this was a rematch of the game that started City’s dramatic streak in earnest. In last year’s final round, a 10-man QPR was on track to prevent City from claiming their first Premier League title before Dzeko and (with practically the last kick of the season) Sergio Agüero bought City back.
  • City avoided those dramatics on Saturday, responding to QPR’s equalizer two minutes later. Tevez’s great run created an easy finish for Dzeko, giving City their winning margin.
  • QPR caused a couple of late gasps for the Ettihad faithful. A 76th minute corner could have been put away by Nelson, with the near-miss replicated two minutes later off a restart from Granero.
  • Despite some spectator-antagonistic tactics, Hughes nearly got a result against his former club, though more important will be the progress his team continues to make defensively. Although they allowed three goals (after conceding only one last week), it was a strong performance against one of the league’s elite attacks. Given the questions surrounding the QPR defense, Saturday’s performance was something to build on.
  • And for City, they still haven’t rekindled the swashbuckling form that characterized the first half of their title-winning campaign, but do they need to? Seven points through three games isn’t perfect, but it puts the team on pace for the same 89 that won them last year’s title.
  • The Citizens also had a potentially “more important” detail: Jack Rodwell seems to be developing a better understanding of his role, both in terms of his positioning in the attacking phase as well as how to anticipate and react to Touré’s ventures forward. While it isn’t a surprising development, it’s still noteworthy that it’s happening.
  • Bad news for the teams: Ferdinand and Zabaleta each left with injuries. Ferdinand hurt his shoulder in a collision with Dzeko. Zabaleta was pulling at his right hamstring as he came off in the 75th minute.