Raheem Sterling has joined the Premier League 100 club, marking his century with a penalty in Manchester City’s 1-0 win over Wolves. The England international has 82 goals for his current club, and netted the other 18 during his time at Liverpool. City never reached top gear during the early kick-off at the Etihad, but looked thoroughly in-control throughout. The Cityzens crowned another centurion during the afternoon, as goalkeeper Ederson kept his 100th clean sheet in all competitions for the club.
The first half featured a number of big talking points, none of which related to the rather pedestrian football being played. Wolves were content to sit back in their 3-5-2 system and invite City onto them, only occasionally trying to find Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore with aimless long balls.
The game took its first turn towards the bizarre when Max Kilman and Ruben Neves collided, leaving the teammates down for five minutes nursing head injuries. That strange meeting of the minds was followed by Romain Saiss falling to the group clutching his face as Raheem Sterling breezed past him and appeared to slightly brush the defender’s face with his hand. It appeared Saiss may have caught a finger in the eye, but his demonstrative reaction did little to endear himself to the City players and fans.
The oddest moment of the game, and perhaps the season, arrived just before half time. Jimenez was booked for an innocuous, but slightly cynical, nibble at Rodri. Less than a minute later, the centre forward was given a second yellow card for blocking the Spaniard’s attempt to take the resulting free kick. Jimenez can feel hard done by for the first booking, but he knew he was on a yellow when he made the ridiculous decision to block the set piece. The Mexican sardonically clapped the home fans as he left to Etihad pitch, a panto-villain move that felt appropriate during the festive season.
One of the most avoidable red cards you will see...
48 seconds between his first and second yellow!
With Wolves down to ten men, you got the impression it was only a matter of time before their stubborn resistance would be broken. So it proved, when Bernardo Silva’s cross appeared to hit Joao Moutinho’s armpit. Referee Jon Moss immediately awarded a spot kick, and remained steadfast after a VAR review. Sterling took a high-pressure penalty, looking to score his 100th Premier League goal. The milestone was achieved with a relaxed, composed finish to put his side in front.
A Jack Grealish backheel presented Bernardo with a superb opportunity, and not for the first time, Jose Sa pulled off a brilliant save. The Portuguese stopper was called into action again when denying Gabriel Jesus at his near post. Sa’s display kept this scoreline far more manageable than it might have been.
Wolves manager Bruno Lage showed attacking intent late on, bringing on Francisco Trincao and Daniel Podence to try and rescue a point. With one less player though, Wanderers faced an uphill climb to try and get back into this game. Kilman went the closest to putting Wolves on terms, drawing a great reaction save from Ederson with a header. This late moment of drama was as good as it got for Lage’s men. City never reached their stunning best at the Etihad, but they did a professional job in taking three vital points.