Wolverhampton, England, Sep 21 (efe-epa).- Manchester City and Aston Villa both kicked off their Premier League seasons with victories on Monday.
The Citizens finally pulled away from the Wolverhampton Wanderers with a goal by Gabriel Jesus deep in second-half stoppage time to win 3-1 on the road, while Aston Villa defeated 10-man Sheffield United 1-0 at home on a goal by Ezri Konsa.
Manchester City’s mission to reconquer the Premier League began with a match at Molineux Stadium that they had under control until suffering some lapses on the defensive end early in the second half.
City were clearly superior over the first 45 minutes, grabbing a 2-0 lead at the intermission thanks to a penalty conversion by Kevin De Bruyne in the 20th minute and a well-constructed goal by Phil Foden just after the half-hour mark that was set up with crisp passing by De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.
But the visitors were shaky defensively in the absence of Aymeric Laporte, who tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month, and could have paid the price had the Wolves been more clinical.
Portuguese winger Daniel Podence squandered a one-on-one chance for Wolverhampton when his attempt to chip the ball over Ederson sailed onto the roof of the net in the 59th minute. Mexican forward Raul Jimenez also missed a clear opportunity from about 12 yards out a minute later.
The Wolves finally got on the board in the 78th minute when Podence nutmegged De Bruyne near the right touchline and then curled a cross to Jimenez, who headed home from the middle of the box to make the score 2-1.
The momentum was clearly with the home side heading into second-half stoppage time, but City managed to rev up their high-powered attack once again and score on a shot by Jesus that deflected off of Wolves defender Conor Coady and into the back of the net on virtually the last play of the game.
Afterward, Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola talked about dealing with a current rash of injuries and the quick turnaround from last season to the current one.
“All we want is the seven players who are out to come back. Against Bournemouth (in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Thursday) we will play most players in the academy and try to keep energy in the Premier League,” he said. “With the lack of preparation and seven players out, we have to keep the players who played today as fresh as possible.”
With the win Manchester City are currently seventh in the Premier League standings, while Wolverhampton fell to 12th.
Earlier Monday, Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez stopped a penalty attempt in Aston Villa’s 1-0 home victory over Sheffield United.
The net minder, who was making his debut for the Birmingham club following the conclusion of his transfer from Arsenal, made the key save in the first half at Villa Park when the game was still tied 0-0.
Martinez dove to his right to snuff out the try by John Lundstram in the 36th minute, a key play in a match in which Sheffield was already down to 10 men due to the expulsion of defender John Egan in the 12th minute.
Chris Wilder’s men held out for nearly an hour despite that numerical disadvantage, but Konsa finally opened the scoring for Aston Villa in the 63rd minute with a header off of a corner kick.
Sheffield United, who finished ninth in the English league last season and nearly earned a berth in the Europa League, have gotten off to a poor start in their 2020-2021 Premier League campaign with two consecutive losses.
Villa are in ninth place after securing the win in their season opener. EFE-EPA