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West Ham United
May 14, 2013
• 3:00 PM
• Madejski Stadium, Reading, Berkshire
Referee: M. Atkinson
• Attendance: 22859
S. Agüero 40'
E. Džeko 88'
Right, that is all from me Rhys Turrell. Head over to Goal.com's main page for all the reaction to tonight's game, and all the latest on the race to replace Roberto Mancini as Manchester City manager. Until next time, goodbye!
It was no doubt a deserved win - they managed 20 shots on target - but Reading will take confidence from an improved second half showing and the performance of goalkeeper Alex McCarthy who was once again outstanding.
City will hope that this win lifts some of the media glare away from the vacant manager's seat at the Etihad Stadium, but with no one yet ready to take up the mantle, it would appear those hopes are forlorn. They can be chuffed, however, that they have banished the performance of Saturday from memory - they were very good when they needed to be tonight.
The referee blows for full time, and it has finished 2-0 to the visitors.
McCarthy, undoubtedly Reading's man of the match tonight, is forced into one final top save, and he denies Carlos Tevez from making it three. The Argentine found space in the area and wriggled past two defenders before shooting from no more than nine yards, but he couldn't beat McCarthy who reacted brilliantly.
Assist David Silva
GOAL! Reading 0-2 Manchester City (Dzeko) The substitute ensures all three points for the visitors after finishing off a wonderful disguised pass from David Silva. The Spain midfielder won the ball off Mariappa and dribbled towards goal from a central area before fooling three defenders with a slide-rule pass through to Dzeko who shimmied past McCarthy before finishing in the corner. Top class finish.
Goal Edin Dzeko
That's better from Toure. From further out, around 25 yards or so, he bends an effort towards the top corner, which McCarthy has to quickly get across to see the ball around the post.
Another effort from Toure, but once again he has been unable to hit the target. His workrate has been good this evening, but his finishing in front of goal has not.
They almost do, as Joe Hart is forced to fly to his left to turn an effort from Jem Karacan away to safety.
Reading seem to have been storing up their energy for the final 20 minutes, because they have been arguably the better side for the latter part of this half. They've found a bit of confidence and fluidity, and may well grab themselves an equaliser here.
Garath McCleary powers in a shot from around 25 yards which takes a big deflection to go wide of the goal. That could of gone anywhere, and the home crowd are finding their voices after several good efforts of late, which included City making a goal line clearance from an Adrian Mariappa header.
Tom McKeown reports: "Micah Richards is clearly enjoying being back in the Manchester City side as he attempts an audacious bicycle kick which flies wide of Alex McCarthy's far post. "Blue Moon" then rings out from the visiting fans as we enter the last quarter of an hour. City should have wrapped this up by now but it remains 1-0."
Micah Richards tries a rathr ambitious overhead kick in the area, and alas, his effort goes quite some way wide of the goal. Kudos for trying it though Micah, and in all honesty, I've seen worse efforts than that by players facing the goal.
The Reading keeper is forced into a tougher save now though as Yaya Toure lets fly from the edge of the area. McCarthy gets a strong hand on his effort to push the ball behind for a corner.
Edin Dzeko, with short sleeve and gloves on, received a James Milner pass in the area and turns his defender, but rather scuffs his effort, which McCarthy is able to easily scoop up off the turf.
Some nice passing from Reading sees them retain the ball high up the field. Danny Guthrie, who has been largely anonymous, plays a super ball from the centre of the park out wide to Chris Gunter who wins a throw-in off Gael Clichy. Better from the home side.
The game is just going through a bit of a lull, with neither side looking particularly dangerous in attack. The home fans are not being given much to shout about, and they are duly choosing not to do so: it is a very quiet Madejski Stadium at the moment.
Tom McKeown reports: "Here cometh the man of the hour. Reading's Player of the Year Adam Le Fondre enters the fray, which finally coaxes some noise out of the home supporters. Pavel Pogrebnyak is the man to be replaced; apart from his effort earlier this half he has been largely ineffective tonight."
Adam Le Fondre
Here comes the supersub! What price for him to notch an equaliser in injury time?
OK, 30 minutes to go. I'm not quite sure how, but there has been just one goal in this game. Aguero goes close to getting himself a second, though, as he races in the area in an attempt to get something on a James Milner cross which flashes across the area. He can't quite reach it, however.
The problem with Reading tonight has not so much been a lack of quality - this much is obvious - it is their lack of real fight and desire. They seem a different side to the one that performed admirably under Brian McDermott - will they live to regret axing the now Leeds manager?
Tom McKeown reports: "Brian Kidd looks composed on the touchline; he knows this game is there for the taking, but Manchester City must finish things off with Reading still threatening on the break. Alex McCarthy makes yet another save, tipping a Yaya Toure effort wide of the post, while the travelling fans find their singing voices again. Although they won't be winning the X Factor anytime soon."
McCarthy to the rescue once again! This time City easily create pressure with simple, unchallenged passes before the ball arrives at the feet of Toure on the edge of the penalty area who shoots towards the far post. McCarthy flings himself full-stretch to his right to turn his effort around the post.
City may have missed out on the FA Cup on Saturday, but if there are any bitter Manchester City fans out there, they can perhaps draw strength from the demise of the side that beat them: Wigan are set to be relegated from the top flight - they trail 4-1 at Arsenal needing a win to stay in the Premier League.
Indeed the pace of the game has dropped dramatically from the first half, however, City look capable of breaking into a higher gear at any time. As yet, they haven't needed to flex their considerable muscle such has been the paucity of Reading's play.
Tom McKeown reports: "The second half has started at a much more leisurely pace here; so much so even the Manchester City fans have had a break from their regular chanting. Pavel Pogrebnyak is denied at point-blank range by Joe Hart as the Royals try to level things with the rain still hammering down in Berkshire."
The first chance of the second half falls to Reading and Pavel Pogrebnyak, he flies goalward to get his head on a Jobi McAnuff cross, but his diving effort is well saved by Hart down low to his right. Replays show he was in an offside position, however.
Hal Robson-Kanu has been a bright spark for Reading this evening, and you wonder whether the Berkshire-based club will be able to hold on to the Welsh international this summer. He has Premier League potential, no doubt.
James Milner, who has been excellent so far, and arguably the best player on the pitch, does well down the right flank, but his centre is well gathered by Royals' defender Stephen Kelly.
The visitors get the second period underway, and if they can keep their performance of the first-half up, it won't be long until they double the lead.
OK, the teams are out. Lets get going with the second half.
Nigel Adkins will be relieved that his side are still in this contest, as quite frankly the scoreline could have been much, much harsher for his men. He'll be hoping for better in the second period: his side have lacked a bit of bite in the tackle, and must work harder off the ball to close down City's attackers.
Tom's right here, Manchester City are totally dominant and deserve to be further ahead than just a single goal. Their play has been fluent and easy on the eye for much of the opening period, and Roberto Mancini - who must be watching somewhere - will be wondering what might have been if his former side had played like this all season.
Tom McKeown reports: "Manchester City take a slender lead into the interval having dominated the beginning and the end of the first half at the Madejski Stadium. The hosts enjoyed a good spell of possession in between and Garath McCleary tested Joe Hart, but Brian Kidd's side are well on top overall and could have had more goals but for yet more heroics from the superb Alex McCarthy."
The stats will tell the story of this half. City, bar a 10 minute spell midway through the half have been totally outplayed, and you feel this game has plenty of goals in it. Silva almost grabs a second for the visitors with a header on the edge of the six yard box, but he rather mistimes his header, and McCarthy easily plucks the ball out of the air.
The Manchester City of the opening 15 minutes is back, and they look good for a second goal here before half time.
Aguero goes close to a second! The Argentine picks up the ball around 30 yards from goal and dribbles slowly towards the target. After moving several yards forward without facing a challenge he decides to belt a shot at goal, and McCarthy is forced into a smart stop.
Assist James Milner
Goal Sergio Agüero
GOAL! Reading 0-1 Manchester City (Aguero) And he is beaten! What a fine goal this is from the visitors. They win a corner on the left and James Milner rolls the ball to David Silva on the edge of the area, before receiving a pass back from the Spaniard. The England man then finds Aguero in the box, who shrugs off the attentions of a defender and opens up his body to cooly slot into the corner of the net. Great work.
Alex McCarthy is the difference between the two sides here, but surely it can't last. He must concede sooner or later.
Yellow Card Gareth Barry
A pretty firm challenge from the ex-Villa man sees him become the first player to go into the box. A correct decision from the referee.
The home fans have burst into life, spurred on by the improved showing of their team no doubt. The game is fairly even now, however, it is City who should be ahead after dominating the early stages of this game.
Reading have another effort on goal, this time at the end of a good counterattack. Hal Robson-Kanu is the man who takes it, but his effort from 25 yards is saved by Hart.
He gets a chance to make amends straight away, but this time the flag is up for offside. In any case, McCarthy produced a wonderful save to tip the Argentina striker's header over the bar, after Clichy crossed from the left.
Best chance of the game, missed by Carlos Tevez. James Milner, who has been brilliant so far, starts things with a run down the left before finding Toure in a central area who plays in Tevez who from no more than 10 yards is unable to beat McCarthy. He should have done better.
Tom McKeown reports: "The home fans let out a roar as Garath McCleary tests Joe Hart with a stinging low shot from the left-hand side of the area, which forces the England goalkeeper to produce a strong wrist to keep the ball out. The Royals have improved vastly since that dominant opening spell from City."
Nigel Adkins is out of his seat and flapping his arms around in attempt to get more out of his team. It almost works, as Garath McCleary cuts in from the left side to power an effort at goal with his right foot. Joe Hart gets down well to save, though.
Possession wise it is all City, and they seem perfectly content to control the tempo of the game, knowing full well that their opponents will struggle to match them if they go full-throttle.
Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry have run the midfield throughout the opening 20 minutes, and it is proving hard for Reading to build any sustained attacks with those two marshalling that area of the pitch.
City have just lacked a little of the attacking verve they showed in the opening stages of late, with their hosts showing a lot more fighting spirit all across the park.
Ah, now we've got a game on. Reading take a shot for the first time through midfielder Hal Robson-Kanu. England goalkeeper Joe Hart, however, saves his effort with relative comfort.
Reading are just beginning to come into this game a little, with some nice touches in midfield at least keeping the ball away from their goal-hungry visitors.
It's game over for Kolo Toure, who hobbles off after pulling up unchallenged. Maicon replaces the Ivorian, meaning Micah Richards - who is also captain tonight - will move into central defence.
There's an almighty collision on halfway, as giant Royals striker Pavel Pogrebnyak barges into Yaya Toure. In what can only be described as a very impressive achievement, the Ivorian is felled to the ground.
Tom McKeown reports: "Brian Kidd has been back and forth from his seat on the bench, directing the players who have dominated the opening ten minutes at the Madejski Stadium. The away fans are making all the noise, their spirits undampened by Mancini's departure. And the rain."
It is fair to say that City will put a minimum of five goals past Reading if the balance of this game stays this way for much longer. The visitors have been rampant, and they look good to open the scoring sooner rather than later. Why oh why didn't they play like this on Saturday?
City go close again, and once more it's McCarthy to the rescue. Milner does well in a central position before blasting a shot low towards the near post which the goalkeeper manages to paw away, before Aguero jumps on a free ball in the area to smash a shot towards the target but once again McCarthy is equal to his effort.
Tom McKeown reports: "The Manchester City players look up for this tonight, having three shots in the opening four minutes. Sergio Aguero is denied superbly by the in-form Alex McCarthy after brilliant dribbling from James Milner in the build-up before seeing his follow-up blocked, and Carlos Tevez then tries his luck from 20 yards out but the Royals shot-stopper gathers low."
The away side have dominated the ball throughout the opening stages, and have gone close to an opener after Aguero found space in the box and shot across the goal forcing McCarthy into a good save. Tevez follows up a few minutes later with another drive from just inside the area, but McCarthy saves his effort with ease.
City have the first effort of the game. After winning an early corner, the ball is swung in from David Silva, before being cleared to James Milner on the edge of the area who blasts well over the bar under pressure from several defenders.
As the referee puts his whistle to his lips to signal the start of play a huge chorus of 'Mancini, he comes from Italy..." erupts from the away end. He's going to be a popular figure with the fans for some time to come.
Here we go then, Manchester City post-Mancini is about to get underway. The home side will kick off and get tonight's game started.
OK, we have some footballers on the pitch, so we must be about to get this game underway. You get the impression that everyone in the stadium would be rather grateful for this game to be done with as soon as possible. It is wet and cold in Berkshire tonight, with an arc looking like a viable form of transport for full time.
Tom McKeown reports: "The first rendition of "Mancini" resonates from the away end, accompanied by a fairly impressive showing of Italy flags and a banner which reads "Grazie Mancini". Despite a lacklustre second half of the season, the City supporters are clearly still grateful for the heroics of last season's title triumph."
Le Fondre is undoubtably the supersub of the season in the top flight, and you have to wonder whether a team in the Premier League will take a punt on the former Rotherham and Rochdale striker. Adkins, of course, will be looking for him to find the net plenty of times in the Championship next season.
Tom McKeown reports: "A ripple of applause rings round the half-empty stadium as Adam Le Fondre is named Reading's Player of the Year. The weather is truly horrific here this evening and everyone's clearly keeping warm inside."
Remember you can get in touch with me throughout tonight's game via Twitter @rhysturrell and @GoalUK.
Before the game starts, there's still time for a quick prediction. I'll plump for a 2-2 draw. City could well be in disarray after the carnage of the last few days, and while Reading have nothing to play for, they must be buoyed by their win at Fulham last time out.
Tom McKeown is in situ at the Madejski Stadium, and has this update: "The pitch here at the Madejski Stadium looks in top condition tonight and is even sporting a new style, with a rather fetching thick-and-thin stripe combo. Brian Kidd is leading the pre-match drills, clearly still in coaching mode but, with the news that David Platt has turned down the offer to stay at the club, he has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders this evening."
Well then, now the business of the teams is sorted, it must be time for some Mancini chat. Does he deserve to be shown the exit? He was certainly very popular with the fans at the Etihad Stadium, and during his time at the club he was able to turn City from a club with huge money, and huge potential, into a Premier League winning team. Whoever succeeds him will have an easier job thanks to the Italian's reign. Bet no one remembers how poor they were under Mark Hughes, eh?
Nigel Adkins has named an unchanged XI after the Royals secured a 4-2 win at Fulham last time out.
And here is how the hosts line up. Reading: McCarthy; Gunter, Morrison, Mariappa, Kelly; Karacan, Guthrie; McCleary, McAnuff, Robson-Kanu; Pogrebnyak. Subs: Taylor, Pearce, Harte, Carrico, Akpan, Blackman, Le Fondre.
There are four changes to the City side that contested Saturday's FA Cup final then, with Micah Richards replacing the suspended Pablo Zabaleta, Joleon Lescott and Kolo Toure coming in for captain Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic, with James Milner replacing Samir Nasri in midfield.
The teamsheets are in, and here is the selection made by Manchester City caretaker manager Brian Kidd: Manchester City: Hart; Richards, K Toure, Lescott, Clichy; Y Toure, Barry; Milner, Silva, Tevez; Aguero. Subs: Pantilimon, Maicon, Kolarov, Garcia, Nasri, Rodwell, Dzeko.
I'm Rhys Turrell and I'll be taking you through what until quite recently looked like being a dull unintriguing affair, which has since sprung into life in the past few days following the sacking of Roberto Mancini.
Good evening and welcome to Goal.com's coverage of Reading v Manchester City from the Madejski Stadium.
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