Jack Grealish took just 55 seconds to open the scoring as he latched on to a Kevin De Bruyne cross to poke home in the box, before striker Erling Haaland netted his 11th Premier League goal in seven games.
Wolves were reduced to 10 men on 33 minutes as Nathan Collins jumped for a loose ball and caught Grealish in the midriff with his studs, receiving a straight red card. After the break, with midfielder Ruben Neves pushed back into the centre of Wolves’ defence, the game was tighter, but City strolled their way to all three points after Phil Foden slotted home from another De Bruyne cross.
1. Haaland does it again …
It was one of those days where City’s opponents will be happy to keep the score below 10. Wolves were 2-0 down and a man down after just 33 minutes and at that point the home supporters inside Molineux were fearing the worst. Grealish had already opened the scoring after just 55 seconds before Haaland got his customary goal — picking the ball up outside the box, running at Max Kilman and shooting low past Jose Sa. It’s now 14 goals in 10 games for Haaland, who has found the net in each of his last seven appearances.
The Norway international also became the first player in Premier League history to score in their first four away games and his goal-scoring streak shows little sign of stopping. The 22-year-old will probably feel he could have had more, especially after Collins was sent off for an ugly-looking challenge on Grealish, but in the second half Pep Guardiola’s side seemed content with knocking the ball around and running down the clock.
Foden added a third midway through the second half but Wolves would be forgiven for feeling they did well to limit the damage on a day that could have ended in a cricket score.
2. Grealish silences his critics with a goal
It was almost as if Guardiola predicted the future at his weekly news conference on Friday. Asked about Grealish and the criticism the £100 million midfielder has received following his performance against Borussia Dortmund in midweek, the City manager told him not to worry.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “In three more days you have another chance to be happy and do what you have to do.” And, what do you know, three days after lasting 58 minutes against Dortmund, Grealish was happy again — taking just 55 seconds to score his first goal of the season to put City 1-0 up.
There were question marks in the build-up to the game about whether Grealish would even start against Wolves, having struggled for form so far this season, but Guardiola chose to keep him in at the expense of Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan and it proved the right decision.
Guardiola insisted on Friday that he doesn’t pick Grealish — booed throughout by the home fans because of his links to Midlands rivals Aston Villa — because he racks up big numbers of goals and assists, but after the debate surrounding his place this week, he will be glad to get off the mark.
3. Wolves shoot themselves in the foot
Wolves kicked off the weekend having scored the fewest goals in the Premier League so far this season, but also boasting the best defensive record. However, if your ability to pick up points is based on keeping it tight at the back then you need to make sure you don’t concede inside a minute and have one of your centre-backs sent off before half-time. It was always going to be a tough afternoon against Man City and Haaland, but Wolves, who were better early in the second half, didn’t help themselves either.
Speaking on Friday, Guardiola said they were “one of the toughest opponents,” but in the end it was a comfortable day for the champions and City’s fans chanted “Erling Haaland, he’s scored more than you.” It’s Haaland 11-3 Wolves so far.
Bruno Lage did a good job at Molineux last season but he needs to get his team scoring soon if he’s to avoid being dragged into the Premier League’s sack race. New signing Diego Costa wasn’t part of the squad against City, which suggests he’s more than a little short of match fitness, and Lage will need to get the 33-year-old up to speed quickly over the international break.
Wolves: Sa 5, Jonny 5, Ait-Nouri 6, Collins 4, Kilman 5, Moutinho 6, Neves 6, Nunes 6, Neto 6, Guedes 6, Podence 5.
Subs: Traore 6, Hwang 6, Semedo 6, Campbell 6.
Man City: Ederson 6, Stones 6, Cancelo 7, Dias 7, Akanji 7, Rodri 7, De Bruyne 8, Silva 7, Grealish 8, Foden 7, Haaland 7.
Subs: Gundogan 6, Alvarez 6, Mahrez 6, Palmer 6, Gomez 6.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Jack Grealish: De Bruyne deserves an honourable mention for his two assists, but Grealish was under pressure at Molineux after criticism this week and the 27-year-old delivered.
WORST: Nathan Collins: Wolves were already up against it at 2-0 down but Collins’ decision to spear Grealish at waist height with his studs was ridiculous. A deserved red card followed, and with it, any chance of Wolves’ salvaging something from the game disappeared.
Highlights and notable moments
It took just 55 seconds for City to take the lead as Grealish ended his long goal drought.
Jack Grealish gets his first Premier League goal in 125 days 👀
Look what it meant 😤 pic.twitter.com/e8dacLjJwb
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) September 17, 2022
One man who hasn’t been struggling in front of goal is Haaland. He showed he can run at defenders and score with his right foot, to continue his incredible scoring streak.
If Erling Haaland carries on scoring at this rate, he will finish the Premier League season with 57 goals 🤯 pic.twitter.com/QU9yL1sEpa
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 17, 2022
And then as if City needed things any easier, Wolves were reduced to 10 men as Collins was sent off for a high challenge on Grealish that brought back memories of Nigel de Jong’s kung-fu kick on Xabi Alonso in the 2010 World Cup final between Netherlands and Spain.
Same vibe. pic.twitter.com/kSvvLswdMh
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 17, 2022
A straight red card to Nathan Collins for this foul on Jack Grealish. Wolves are down to 10 men.
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) September 17, 2022
Foden’s goal made the game safe, and a few minutes later, it was paused briefly on 70 minutes for a minute of applause to honour the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II, who died last week.
After the match: What the managers/players said
Bruno Lage to BT Sport: “[It went wrong] not just in the first half, but the first minute. When a team like City, who played on Wednesday night, score in the first minute it is hard to take. In between the first two goals we were there, but they scored in a transition. … It is not about Nathan Collins. Sometimes it happens and the same situations, I saw one like that yesterday in the Aston Villa game against Southampton and nothing happened, today it was a red card.”
Pep Guardiola to BT Sport: “The game started really well for us with the two goals and the red card and after the Champions League to come here at 12:30 with the quality they have, they can keep the ball and transitions are fast, it was an incredible victory. We struggled a lot after half-time until Phil’s [Foden] goal so a lot of credit to Wolves.”
Grealish to BT Sport: “It was a long time coming and nice to get off the mark. Rightly so, people have been asking questions, I should be scoring more and getting more assists. I am always going to have people talking about me with the money that was spent on me, but all my career I haven’t scored enough goals. I do want to add that to my game. It is nice when Pep defends me. He has been brilliant with me. I probably have to thank him because he gave me the opportunity today after my performance on Wednesday because it probably wasn’t the best. I am thankful to him.”
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
– Grealish’s effort was the ninth Premier League goal ever scored by Man City in the first minute of a match.
– Kevin De Bruyne now has at least one assist in five of City’s seven Premier League matches this season. He has been directly involved in more Premier League goals at Molineux in 2022 than any other player (including Wolves’ players.)
– De Bruyne’s six assists this season are twice as many as any other player in the Premier League. This was also his first multi-assist match since April against Watford.
– Erling Haaland is the first player in history to score in his first four away games in the Premier League. Haaland now has 14 goals in 10 matches in all competitions (11 in the Premier League) and has only failed to hit the net in two matches this season for City.
– Via Opta: Haaland has scored 100 goals in his last 99 games in all competitions since leaving FC Salzburg for Borussia Dortmund in January 2020.
– Haaland (7) is tied with Sergio Aguero, who did it in 2019, for the most consecutive games with a goal for Man City since 1992-93.
– City are now unbeaten in their last 22 away league matches with a record of 16-6-0 (W-D-L). Their last away loss in the league was their first match of last season against Tottenham.
– City put in their 11th shutout win in the Premier League since the start of last season, breaking a tie with Chelsea for most by any team in that span.
Wolves: Bruno Lage’s team travel to east London to take on West Ham United on Oct. 1, kicking off at 12:30 p.m. ET, and then face a tough trip to Chelsea. Things won’t be getting any easier.
Man City: Amid the international break, Man City will have time to prepare for the derby, with Manchester United visiting the blue half of the city on Oct. 2. The club will play their next three games at home, with FC Copenhagen visiting in the Champions League before facing Southampton on Oct. 8, so expect more goals for Haaland.