MANCHESTER CITY 4-0 SWANSEA
By Shane Thomas
On the Sunday evening of the first Premier League weekend, the verdict from fans & the media was pretty unanimous; meh.
No home wins, only 14 goals in 8 matches, with one game cancelled due to the UK riots earlier in the week, it was hardly an affirmation of the Premier League being the so-called, "best league in the world". All we had left to complete the first round of fixtures was Manchester City vs Swansea; relegation fodder against one of the division's most prosaic sides (albeit title contenders). It looked set to round off a thoroughly lukewarm start to the season. Obviously no-one told Sergio "Kun" Aguero.
The first-half of the match ended goalless, with Swansea impressing with their enterprising possession play. Only a lack of cutting edge & ruthlessness in the final third prevented them from threatening Joe Hart's goal.
As the half progressed, City - with David Silva & Edin Dzeko to the fore - closed down Swansea's space, and were unlucky not to take a lead into the break. Dutchman Michel Vorm denied both Dzeko & Silva, while the Spaniard and Gareth Barry also hit the crossbar before half-time.
Dzeko finally broke the deadlock, and City began to play more expansively. Silva's probing & mobility was a constant threat, and then Roberto Mancini made a surprisingly aggressive substitution by bringing on Aguero for Nigel De Jong with 30 minutes remaining.
The Argentine has arrived with a grand reputation and a even grander transfer fee. However, Mancini warned that Aguero was well off 100% fitness, as he had only finished a lengthy season 3 weeks ago, after playing for Argentina in the Copa America. Many would have excused him a slow start on his City debut.
However, he forced Vorm into a save with his first touch, and nearly set up a goal with his third. Eight minutes into his first taste of English football, Aguero scored, tapping in after good work from Silva & Micah Richards. He wasn't done there; latching onto a through-ball from Dzeko, he flicked the ball over Vorm, before a laudable burst of effort & poise kept the ball in play, leaving Silva to fire into the gaping net.
The score was now 3-0, and Aguero was the name on everybody's lips. His mobility and interplay - particularly with Silva - had City fans drooling in appreciation. The contest was over, and they were playing some delightfully fluid football. The staccato "marathon runners" of last season were gone, and in the final minute, the fans were treated to a champagne moment to crown the victory.
Aguero picked the ball up on the right of the penalty area. Richards' overlapping run created space for Kun to shoot from long range. The ball whistled into the corner with vicious pace and dip. The crowd were in raptures, the smiles of the players could have lit up the stadium without the use of floodlights. And the Premier League might just have seen its next superstar.
Kun's ebullient display will be the story of the opening weekend, and any true football fan should be mercifully thankful. After the emetic scenes at St James Park, and more wearying headlines about players diving, it was good to see exciting football on show, rather than unpleasantness & bickering.
Aguero may still yet find life tough. His introduction to English football was a relatively comfortable one. He and his club will have many tougher tests to come. But for one night at least, Kun Aguero will have people talking about football for the right reasons.
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