Kevin De Bruyne leads the way for shimmering Manchester City before Wolves expose familiar failings 

Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne pulled the strings for Manchester City in an irresistible first-half performance against Wolves Credit: Andy Hooper/NMC Pool

This felt like one of those occasions when Manchester City had read the reports and heard the analysis of Liverpool’s statement victory over Chelsea and accepted the challenge. They wanted to take control. They want to be in this Premier League title race.

The achievement of winning away at Wolves should not be under-estimated, especially with several key players absent, and while there was an intense period in the second-half when the home side spurned four chances and City wobbled alarmingly under fierce pressure, they managed to manage the game once they actually did concede. Maybe it would have been different if Molineux had been a baying full house urging Adama Traore to continue running riot.

Given City are the last Premier League side to get their campaign underway and given the elongated nature of last season for them and their ultimate Champions League disappointment, there were reasons why they could not maintain their first-half ferocity which made the actual result all the more impressive.

Make no mistake, Wolves will be a formidable proposition this season. The significance of this result should, therefore, not be under-estimated and it is a compliment to City that they achieved an intensity so sorely lacking from Manchester United – who have had similar preparations – at the weekend.

Raheem Sterling strides towards goal before Conor Coady slides in Credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images

There was frustration, though. Raheem Sterling, who had been so prominent, was clearly irritated at being substituted for new signing Ferran Torres even though it was late on as City held on in a game in which they had threatened to sweep Wolves aside. Maybe it just showed his competitive nature and while John Stones largely did well alongside £41 million new signing Nathan Ake in the centre of defence and on his return to the team, did he do enough? Replays of Wolves goal – with Raul Jimenez powering in an unchallenged header – did not look great for Stones as he stood watching. He knows Pep Guardiola is in the market for another centre-half.

Guardiola had spoken about “fire and desire” and he was rewarded in the first half as City burnt off Wolves, who have ambitions of their own of challenging the top four, with a focussed determination and with Phil Foden impressing along with Kevin de Bruyne who once more was simply sublime and at the heart of everything.

As the game unfolded it certainly appeared highly unlikely that Guardiola would be punching the air in relief at the final whistle. There was a VAR check as Sterling stumbled in the Wolves penalty area within two minutes and there was a spot-kick awarded within 20 minutes.

It was foolish from defender Romain Saiss who slid in needlessly to catch De Bruyne on the edge of the area as he shaped to cross. The midfielder had already poked the ball past Saiss who had no way of pulling out and it was De Bruyne who then stepped up to powerfully beat Rui Patricio from the spot. The PFA Player of the Year had already got City up and running.

The weight of the pass to De Bruyne had helped create the opportunity and it came from Foden, starting for City and hoping to move on from being sent home from England duty in disgrace. The 20 year-old continued to catch the eye and claimed City’s second goal when he finished a sumptuous move as De Bruyne played the ball through to Sterling who had the chance to shoot but also the presence of mind to know his team-mate was better-placed. The ball was pulled back to Foden who swept it first time into the net. It was a textbook Guardiola goal with its origins in quickly winning the ball back.

Phil Foden sweeps in City's second Credit: Nick Potts/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Wolves had completed a league double over City last season but appeared strangely intimidated and were indebted to Rui Patricio with a fine block from De Bruyne to at least give coach Nuno Espirito Santo the chance to re-organise and provide hope at half-time.

Nuno did just that. Wolves were transformed with Traore running at Benjamin Mendy and Daniel Podence full of pace and trickery. The pair were prominent as chances were created and Guardiola will have been concerned at how his side struggled. Firstly Traore picked out Podence who swivelled and shot with the ball skimming the side-netting. Then Pedro Neto’s pull back was stepped over by Podence only for Ruben Neves to shoot weakly allowing Kyle Walker to hack clear.

Soon after, Neves released Podence who had held his run cleverly and had the pace to take him away from Stones. Through on goal he scooped his shot onto the roof of the net, before Traore again worked his way to the byline and crossed with Jimenez, unmarked, side-footing wide.

Jimenez did score when Podence ‘nutmegged’ De Bruyne – of all people - and crossed for the striker to rise unchallenged and power his header beyond Ederson. Would there be another Wolves comeback? They sensed it but City rallied with their new captain Fernadinho working even harder. In fact it was City who threatened with Patricio turning away a low drive by Gabriel Jesus before he was beaten with the final kick off the match as De Bruyne picked out the striker who showed strength and determination to create the space for a shot that deflected off Conor Coady. It beat Patricio at his near post and secured such a precious three points as they begin the tough task of playing catch-up. Even this early in the season.


City were irresistible in the first half, Wolves, too good a side to be so poor even against a side as good as City playing so slickly, fought back with pluck and penetrative running but not enough incisiveness until De Bruyne again collared the game and bent it to his skill and will.

Full time Wolves 1 Man City 3

City take the corner short on the left, lose the ball as they try to fanny about until the imminent whistle until De Bruyne snaps in to the interception and then rolls it down the left to Gabriel Jesus. The City centre-forward opens his body and drills a right-foot shot beneath Rui Patricio. 

GOAL!! Wolves 1 Man City 3

Gabriel Jesus makes it three. 

90+4 min Wolves 1 Man City 2                           

De Bruyne wins the ball back off Neves, taps it inside to Gabriel Jesus and sprints down the outside screaming for the return. Gabriel Jesus goes alone and thumps a shot that Rui Patricio turns wide. 

90+3 min Wolves 1 Man City 2                          

City cleverly now buying time, delaying restarts, soaking up the remaining minutes. De Bruyne does it in the corner, Mendy takes an age over the throw-in. 

90+1 min Wolves 1 Man City 2                         

The fourth official illuminates 4 on his board. Pep is displeased and urges his team forward. 

90 min Wolves 1 Man City 2                        

Sky's Andy Hinchcliffe names De Bruyne man of the match. That's about right, I think. Rodri was superb in the first half but has made a couple of mistakes in the second. Fernandinho was KDB's main rival for the award. 

89 min Wolves 1 Man City 2                       

Mendy commits a foul wide on the Wolves right, 40 yards from goal. Neves whips a devilishly dipping free-kick to the near post where Fernandinho, City's elected captain, shows his nose for danger and courage to dive in and head it behind before Jimenez can pounce. 

87 min Wolves 1 Man City 2                      

De Bruyne lands heavily after a fair challenge from Boly but he gets up eventually and fears of an ankle injury subside. 

86 min Wolves 1 Man City 2                     

Wolves free-kick just ahead of the centre-circle inside the City half. Rodri was booked for the foul. But nothing comes of the long ball into the box. 

85 min Wolves 1 Man City 2                    

City are slowing the game down and killing time. 'Game management' in action.  

Raul Jimenez scores for Wolves Credit: Stu Forster/Pool via AP


83 min Wolves 1 Man City 2                   

VAR is checking whether Kyle Walker deliberately winded Podence with his arm but it decides quickly that the collision was accidental. 

82 min Wolves 1 Man City 2                  

City substitution: Ferran Torres replaces Sterling. 

80 min Wolves 1 Man City 2                 

Podence nutmegs De Bruyne on the right, turns on the acceleration and hares down the right before standing up the perfect near-post cross that Wolves' best No9 since the Tipton Terror leaps and steers past Ederson. 

GOAL!! Wolves 1 Man City 2

Raul Jimenez. A touch of class and thoroughly deserved on this second-half performance. 

78 min Wolves 0 Man City 2                

Fabio Silva replaces Neto, Dendoncker comes on for Moutinho. 

75 min Wolves 0 Man City 2               

Wolves subs have been waiting for four minutes to come on but City are probing with precise passing and movement and the ball stays in play for ages. It still hasn't gone out after City light the fuse with a pass from Foden swept up the right. Gabriel Jesus ounces but so does Saiss and stops him getting the shot away. 

73 min Wolves 0 Man City 2              

Neto tacks in from the right and drives down the inside-right channel towards the D. He works an angle to shoot as Stones converges from his left but Ake throws himself in front of the shot to block from the other side. 

71 min Wolves 0 Man City 2             

City are stroking it around until Foden loses possession and Wolves feed Traore down the right. He whips over the early cross and Stones beats Jimenez in the air to head clear. 

69 min Wolves 0 Man City 2            

Gabriel Jesus smashes a shot past Rui Patricio from 20 yards but he was offside by at least a yard. The flag goes up as the ball hits the back of the net. 

66 min Wolves 0 Man City 2           

AT last some of the air is leaking from the balloon. The intensity of the last 20 minutes and ist end-to-end nature catches up with the players who take a breather, City killing the tension with possession. 

64 min Wolves 0 Man City 2          

Now City break and Gabriel Jesus attacks on the counter, forced wider than he would want by Rui Patricio. He works the ball over to Walker whose shot isn't worthy of the first-half incisiveness.

Wolves have bossed this past 15 minutes and really should have at least one goal to show for it. 

63 min Wolves 0 Man City 2         

Jimenez slips in Podence down the inside left when Stones was distracted and the No10 is through on Walker  ... but his control isn't assured enough and the right-back recovers. 

61 min Wolves 0 Man City 2        

A fourth golden chance for Wolves in the last 10 minutes when Traore storms down the right, cuts in past Mendy and into the box then fires a right-foot cross towards. Jimenez contemplated diverting it the other way but seemed convinced a faint touch would help it to sneak in. Instead it crept past.  

59 min Wolves 0 Man City 2       

City are under the cosh here, pressing too high for once and Ake drawn out of position by Jimenez's run. Moutinho slides the ball between Mendy and where Ake should be for Podence. Stones chases but the Portugal winger keeps his lead and as Ederson comes out he chips him and spoons it on to the roof of the net. 

56 min Wolves 0 Man City 2      

Life in the old wolf yet. Neto steals down the right and drags the ball back to Podence. He steps over it when he was in fact better placed but Neves takes on the shot from the tighter angle and further out, 22 yards, scuffing it low and Walker boots it away before Ederson has to muddy his knees. 

54 min Wolves 0 Man City 2     

Traore puts the fear on Mendy and Rodri and jinks towards the penalty area. They give him too much room, frightened that he'll bomb past them if they go too tight or that he'll go down if they dive in. He pings a pass infield to Podence who turns and flashes a handsome left-foot shot from 20 yards just past the post. 

52 min Wolves 0 Man City 2    

Moutinho almost sells Saiss short with a pass that lacked pace and was only inches away from Gabriel before Saiss steps in. But when Wolves try to build from that let-off they are hounded out of possession, De Bruyne picks out Gabriel Jesus with a phenomenal pass up the middle and the centre-forward slams a shot too close to the keeper. 

50 min Wolves 0 Man City 2   

Traore gets past a dawdling Rodri and makes it to the byline but his cross is gobbled up by Ederson rather than locating Jimenez who made a far post run and Podence, who split to the front. 

48 min Wolves 0 Man City 2  

Saiss miscontrols a tricky crossfield pass on halfway and inadvertently knocks the ball on to Walker who traps it and hares towards the box. Good recovery work from Saiss saves his face a she sprints for dear life to squeeze Walker out of space.   

46 min Wolves 0 Man City 2 

Wolves kick off - no changes and from the restart enjoy 40 seconds of possession until one clumsy pass brings City on to them in numbers. Sterling overhits the pass down the left for Mendy who can't beat Traore or the confines of the field. 

Half time Wolves 0 Man City 2

Only one side in it. City have been magnificent and so far Wolves have been unable to live with their incisive passing, movement and relentless pressing. 

44 min Wolves 0 Man City 2                    

The corner comes in from the right and arrives at Rodri after some pinball and he cuts his right foot across a half-volley from an angle of about 30 degrees and almost succeeds in slicing it into the far corner. Instead it whistles past the post. Amazin technique and audacity. 

42 min Wolves 0 Man City 2                   

Rui Patricio saves the day for Wolves. Sterling heads it 10 yards up to Gabriel who leans backwards to guide the perfect headed pass to meet De Bruyne's third-man run. The headers bypass Moutinho and allow De Bruyne to accelerate into the box before firing a thunderous low shot that the Wolves keeper bats wide. 

40 min Wolves 0 Man City 2                  

Better from Wolves, first to win a corner on their right then to whip in a cross that Jimenez meets at the near post, Neves who also goes up for it running interference on his team-mate's attempt and hence the No9 knocks it over. 

38 min Wolves 0 Man City 2                 

Mendy picks off Coady's pass - must be the sixth interception of a ball played out by the centre-backs - and strokes it up to De Bruyne. He steams crossfield in a diagonal run then fizzes a pass in to Foden's feet by by the right angle of the 18-yard box. He cuts in on his left to shoot, trying to bend it around Rui Patricio but he doesn't get enough curl on it and it sails wide of the post. 

36 min Wolves 0 Man City 2                

Yellow card for Gabriel Jesus for a spot of retaliation on Saiss, shoving him to the ground.

And now Traore is haiuled down just outside the box on the right by Mendy. Moutinho takes the free-kick but City head it clear. 

34 min Wolves 0 Man City 2               

Boly's pass out of defence was picked off as City hound him and Traore. De Bruyne strides forward and rolls a pass down the left of the box for Sterling who takes it closer to the byline and then pulls it back perfectly for Foden by the penalty spot. He takes it on the half-turn and sweeps a low left-foot shot into the bottom left corner. 

Phil Foden turns in City's second Credit:  Andy Hooper/NMC Pool


GOAL!! Wolves 0 Man City 2              

Phil Foden doubles City's lead.  

30 min Wolves 0 Man City 1             

Foden and De Bruyne combine to slip Sterling in down the left of the box. The angle is against him but he has a dig anyway, hammering a left-foot shot down Rui Patricio's throat. 

28 min Wolves 0 Man City 1            

The Wolves of Bramall Lane and here look barely related. That's the City factor. Neves and Moutinho can't get a grip on runners or possession. 

26 min Wolves 0 Man City 1           

Neto has a run up the left, checks outside then in and is forced out by Fernandinho who floods into the space vacated by Walker and closes him down. 

24 min Wolves 0 Man City 1          

City are stroking it about with such champagne flow that they will need to record a few olés for the faux crowd noise soundtrack if they carry on like this. 

22 min Wolves 0 Man City 1         

City's pressing is giving Wolves such little time on the ball that the home side is becoming fretful. 

20 min Wolves 0 Man City 1        

De Bruyne picks off a pass that Coady was trying to play to Traore who didn't make his captain's job easy by standing still. De Bruyne glides forward and whips over a cross that goes out for a corner which begets another immediately. Wolves defend both comfortably. 

De Bruyne buries the penalty Credit: Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images



Wolves 0 Man City 1 (De Bruyne, pen)   Takes it with his right and buries it into the right corner. Rui Patricio went the right way but the shot was too hot for him to reach. 

Man City penalty

De Bruyne running out of space down the right of the box, Saiss slides in and De Bruyne makes sure his foot hits the defender's thigh and he goes down. 

Romain Saiss brings down Kevin De Bruyne who was running out of room and heading down a cul de sac Credit: Nick Potts/Pool via AP


14 min Wolves 0 Man City 0       

Excellent defending from ... wait for it ... John  Stones to stop Traore by staying tight and on his feet to squeeze his space.

Threatening ball over the top into the Wolves box from the right that Sterling controls with his chest, in fact I think it was an attempted lay-off with his chest that gave him the option of spinning the keeper or setting up Gabriel Jesus. Coady and Rui Patricio save the day. 

12 min Wolves 0 Man City 0      

De Bruyne takes and easily clears the wall, imparting some Ronaldo-esque pacy wobble on the ball but Rui Patricio, who will have had to deal with CR7's free-kicks in Portugal training, isn't gulled by the movement and punches it away. Too close to him too, in truth. 

10 min Wolves 0 Man City 0     

Stones and Ake are confidently stroking the ball between themselves until AKe chips it long up the left. Boly heads it backupfield where Mendy, shrewdly, is not going to let Traore have a run at him, gets tight and holds him up until he can nick it away up to Gabriel Jesus and De Bruyne. Jesus is brought down 30 yards out, 10 yards left of centre.

8 min Wolves 0 Man City 0    

Marcal's home debut ends and he is replaced by Ruben Vinagre. Didn't see how he injured himself nor the nature of it but he had been limping for most of the last couple of minutes. 

7 min Wolves 0 Man City 0   

Neves  is caught on the toe just inside his won  half. He takes the free-kick too carelessly, most unlike him, and Ake reads his intentions and steps up to cut out the pass down the inside-right channel to Jimenez. 

5 min Wolves 0 Man City 0  

Sterling faces Boly up again, feints one away and then darts to the right but again Coady is there to sweep away the danger. City have both full-backs pushed higher than  Rodri and Fernandinho. At times they look as though they're playing 2-2-5-1, 

3 min Wolves 0 Man City 0 

Raheem Sterling beats Boly in a challenge, turns him and runs at Coady in the box. Sterling goes sprawling and Coadt immediately wags his finger. No penalty ... which the pundits say is the correct call. Just a hint that Sterling's heel might have been brushed by Coady's knee but no solid evidence. 

1 min Wolves 0 Man City 0

City kick off, the last team to begin the 2020-21 PL season. They have a free-kick after barely 20 seconds when Neto catches Walker and the right-back knocks it back to Stones and they play it across the back four and ultimately back to Ederson. 

The teams are out

City in paisley. Wolves in old gold. But first they take a knee. 

Nuno speaks

Today’s going to be a new challenge, a new game. Competing is always staying in the game, knowing that every ball is important, that every moment of the game requires focus, and bouncing back from mistakes, organising again, and having the will to have the ball and try to hurt Man City. We have talented players and we want them to express their talent.

Nathan Ake wears City's No6 shirt

Previous wearers of which (in the Premier League era) include Fernando Reges, Joleon Lescott, Michael Johnson, Claudio Reyna, Kevin Horlock, Giuseppe Mazzarelli and Michel Vonk.

Probably best to go back 50 years for a great No6 - Alan Oakes. 

Your teams in black and white

Wolverhampton Wanderers  Rui Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Traore, Neves, Joao Moutinho, Marcal; Podence, Jimenez, Neto. 
Substitutes Ruddy, Silva, Vitinha, Ruben Vinagre, Dendoncker, Kilman, Rasmussen.

Manchester City  Ederson;Walker, Stones, Ake, Mendy; Fernandinho, Rodri; Foden, De Bruyne, Sterling; Gabriel Jesus. 
Substitutes Steffen, Otamendi, Delap, Doyle, Bernabe, Torres, Mahrez.

Referee Andre Marriner (Sheldon)

Stones and Ake at the back for City


Wolves name same team that won at Bramall Lane


Good evening

And welcome to coverage of Manchester City's opening game of the 2020-21 season when they take on Wolves, who began impressively last weekend with victory over Sheffield United. Wolves beat City home and away last season and are one of the few sides who are willing to go toe-to-toe with them in terms of passing and fluid movement.

Ilkay Gundogan has tested positive for Covid-19 and is unavailable, joining Riyad Mahrez and Aymeric Laporte who missed much of pre-season after also contracting the virus. Mahrez is thought to be closer than Laporte to full fitness and is a possible for tonight, as is Bernardo who was injured on duty for Portugal last week. Sergio Aguero won't be back until November so Gabriel Jesus will lead the line and Ferran Torres could make his debut on the right wing if Mahrez is not ready. Nathan Ake, Virgil van Dijk's centre-back partner with Holland, is more of a certainty to make his City debut. 

Jonny is Wolves' only long-term absentee Wolves will be without long-term absentee Jonny, and Fernando Marcal, the Brazilian left-back bought from Roma for a cut-price £1.8m in the summer will continue to deputise. Once Nelson Semedo signs Adama Traore may be freed from playing on the right as a wing-back but is likely to contibue there today depsite s but Nuno otherwise has a clean bill of health as he prepares to welcome the former champions.

Summer signing Fernando Marcal is likely to fill in for him at left wing-back again, while Traore could revert to right wing-back for this match, despite scoring both goals in Wolves' victory at the Etihad and the first from 2-0 down last Christmas at Molineux that instigated the comeback to 3-2.

Other than Liverpool, I doubt City could start with a harder test.  Should be a cracker. Join us at 7.15pm for the team news.