WHO needs Lionel Messi?
Manchester City shrugged off the disappointment of missing out on the Barcelona superstar by making a blistering start to the season.
Phil Foden put his England shame behind him with a goal in Man City’s 3-1 win at WolvesCredit: Reuters
Kevin De Bruyne set City on their way with an early penaltyCredit: AP:Associated Press
And leading the charge was Phil Foden – who could easily have found himself back on the bench if the Argentine had arrived.
The 20-year-old put his England shame behind him to grab the second goal here – after Kevin de Bruyne had earlier scored from the spot.
They had to withstand a stirring second half fight-back from Wolves with Raul Jiminez pulling one back with a header.
But Gabriel Jesus added a stoppage time third and this was just what Pep Guardiola would have wanted as his team blew off the cobwebs of last season in some style.
And if they can reproduce that sizzling opening 45 minutes on a regular basis then Liverpool will not have it all their own way this season.
City were looking to win their opening game of the season for a 10th successive year – equalling a record held by Aston Villa since 1900.
But its fair to assume there have not been many tougher assignments than this among them – as Wolves have had their number in recent seasons.
They did the double over the then champions last season – and in fact City had won only one of their last five meetings going into this.
Raul Jimenez pulled Wolves back into the game late onCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Gabriel Jesus made sure of the result with the game’s last kickCredit: Reuters
In addition Guardiola was without seven first teamers – due to illness and injuries.
Inside the first couple of minutes, Sterling went over under a challenge from his new England team-mate Connor Coady in the box.
The VAR had a look and showed the defender had pulled out of the challenge just in time so the ref Andre Marriner was right not to give a penalty.
Should Sterling have been booked for diving? Maybe – but the official chose not issue a card.
Wolves Brazilian new boy Marcal was part of the Lyon team who sent City tumbling out of Europe just over five weeks ago.
His home debut for his new club was only memorable for the wrong reasons as he limped off after just seven minutes and was replaced by Ruben Vinagre.
Pep Guardiola was delighted to pick up his win on City’s opening dayCredit: PA:Press Association
Wolves were left to regret a number of missed chancesCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Despite their late start to the campaign and a relatively short pre-season, Guardiola’s men were quickly into their stride.
Last term’s PFA Player of the Year de Bruyne had already stung the finger-tips of Rui Patricio when he won a penalty for his team.
He went down under a sliding challenge from Romain Saiss and this time both the ref and the VAR agreed it was a pen.
De Bruyne is now City’s undisputed penalty king after scoring four at the end of last season – and number five fizzed past Patricio in a flash here.
It was no surprise that KdB was also heavily involved in the second goal just after the half hour.
It was his through ball that set Sterling away down the left and he pulled back for Foden to have a simple task of rolling the ball home.
The season did not get off to a great start for Foden – but there is still time for him to make it one to remember.
De Bruyne was his typically cool self from the penalty spotCredit: Reuters
Foden netted a delighted left-footed shot after being teed up by Raheem SterlingCredit: PA:Press Association
He has been directly involved in 22 goals in 33 starts for City now – and at only 20 there is so much more to come from him.
Wolves had been comfortably second best but had a rare chance when Raul Jimenez headed over a cross by Adama Traore.
But City almost wrapped up the points on the stroke of half-time as Sterling and Gabriel Jesus sent De Bruyne racing clear but Patricio made a superb save to deny him.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s men came from two goals down to topple City in one of the games of the season last Christmas.
That night though, they were playing against 10 men and Molineux was absolutely bouncing. This one had a very different feel to it with City in such irresistible form.
It was a similar story after the break with de Bruyne threading a ball through to Jesus but the forward fired his shot straight at Patricio.
Jimenez towered over his opponents to blast a header beyond EdersonCredit: Reuters
Jesus pounced with a slick finish at the deathCredit: Reuters
Traore tormented City twice last season and the home side had to get him in the game more to have any chance.
His cross was turned found Daniel Podence whose shot on the turn whistled past the upright.
Another cross from the Spaniard was turned past the far post by Jiminez while Ruben Neves saw a shot cleared off the line by Kyle Walker.
City had looked imperious in the first half but were wobbling a bit now as Podence ran clear but chipped his effort onto the roof of the net.
Ederson’s goal had led a charmed life and it was no surprise when the home side got one back as Podence nutmegged de Bruyne.
His cross was perfect for Jiminez whose powerful header beat the City goalkeeper to set up a thrilling finish.
But Jesus found space in the box to grab a deflected third in stoppage time and end any doubts.
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