Another step taken towards the Premier League title by Manchester City, just not quite in the way we may have expected.
For an hour at the Etihad Stadium, this was easy for Pep Guardiola’s team. Too easy, perhaps. Ahead through a Leander Dendoncker own goal after quarter of an hour, City were so much in control of this game that they forgot to put it to bed.
So when Wolves scored with their first touch in the City penalty area in the 62nd minute, a curiosity was in the offing. Wolves captain Conor Coady was the scorer, his goal coming from his first effort on target in his Premier League career. The statistic felt fitting.
A Gabriel Jesus double inspired Manchester City to a 4-1 win over Wolves in a frantic contest at the Etihad on Tuesday night
Pep Guardiola’s men are 15 points clear at the top of the table after a 21st win – but it wasn’t as easy as the scoreline suggests
City were utterly dominant from the first whistle but had to dig deep against a plucky Wolves side who gave them a big scare
The hosts finally got the goal they deserved as Leandro Dendoncker prodded into his own net with Raheem Sterling lurking
City looked briefly panicked and Wolves created a couple more chances.
But Guardiola’s team have not won 21 straight games without good reason.
Pride pricked, they came again and when Gabriel Jesus rammed in the deciding goal with just over ten minutes to go, there was not a single soul here who could say it was not just.
When Riyad Mahrez and Jesus added two more in added time, the scoreline finally looked a little more appropriate.
City could have scored within the opening 90 seconds. At times, it looked as though they could cut through Wolves at will in the first half. Strangely, they scored only once in that time.
They thought they had their second goal when Laporte bundled home from Dias’s flick on, but was ruled as marginally offside
Wolves looked dead and buried but they rallied in the second half and scored a shock equaliser via Conor Coady’s header
The former Liverpool defender wheels away after netting his first goal since 2018 and his first ever in the Premier League
Wolves were set up to defend in numbers, with five across the back and only one up front. The plan was to soak pressure and then break through the speed of Adama Traore. The flaw in the plan was that they simply couldn’t get the ball to him.
So it was a one way contest in the first 45 minutes. Before the game had even settled into a rhythm, the City left back Joao Cancelo played a lovely ball from the flank to set Raheem Strerling in on goal.
Rui Patricio, the Wolves goalkeeper, was out quickly to smother the poked shot by the near post.
And that was how it was for a while — City moving the ball smartly and looking for angles and daylight, Wolves working like a colony of giant ants, shuffling left to right and up and down in unison to try and plug holes.
MANCHESTER CITY 4-1 WOLVES: MATCH FACTS
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson 6; Walker 6.5, Dias 6.5, Laporte 6.5, Cancelo 7; Silva 6.5 (Gundogan 82), Rodri 7.5, De Bruyne 6.5; Mahrez 8, Jesus 7.5, Sterling 7
Goals: Dendoncker OG 14, Jesus 80, 93, Mahrez 89
Subs not used: Steffen, Stones, Gundogan, Aguero, Zinchenko, Torres, Fernandinho, Foden, Garcia
Manager: Pep Guardiola 7
Wolves (5-4-1): Patricio 7.5; Hoever 6, Dendoncker 5, Coady 7, Saiss 6, Jonny 5.5 (Silva 55, 7); Semedo 6, Moutinho 6.5, Neves 6 (Otasowie 90), Neto 7; Traore 7
Goal: Coady 60
Subs not used: Ruddy, Ait-Nouri, Jose, Boly, Gibbs-White, Vitinha, Kilman
Manager: Nuno Espirito Santo 6.5
Referee: Chris Kavanagh 6
But it wasn’t long before City were back in front and Jesus made no mistake to smash home at close range from a rebound
Riyad Mahrez was quality all night long and he got on the scoresheet with City’s third goal as he curled beyond Patricio
Jesus got his brace on the night as he prodded home after Ilkay Gundogan’s shot had been parried by the Wolves’ keeper
City had to wait only 15 minutes or so to break through. It was a typically lovely goal, too.
Wolves’ left-sided player was the Spaniard Jonny and he moved up in haste when Rodri floated a diagonal ball towards Riyad Mahrez. It was a good pass but Jonny’s misjudgement made it look even better.
On the run, Mahrez controlled the ball well, pushing it in front of him. The cross was then delivered on the run and Dendoncker turned the ball in to his own goal under pressure from Sterling.
It all looked a little too easy and already it was apparent that Wolves had to find a way to change the manner in which the game was being played. For the remainder of the half, they failed to do so.
City captain Kevin de Bruyne was finding room to express and enjoy himself. Two balls to switch play — one for Sterling and the other for Gabriel Jesus — were superb, while a shot of his own flew over.
Wolves deployed Adama Traore centrally but struggled to pick him out as they were passed into the ground by City early on
Wolves couldn’t live with Kevin De Bruyne’s passing as he picked out team-mates with some sensational long-range passes
Just before half time the City defender Aymeric Laporte did have the ball in the goal but was marginally offside.
Then Bernardo Silva’s header was repelled by Patricio, the creative Portuguese player lashing the rebound a little carelessly over the bar.
De Bruyne and Mahrez both worked Patricio early in the second period — one with his right foot and the other with his left. Both required good saves.
For a while there was absolutely no change in the pattern of the game. Indeed, we reached the hour mark with Wolves still to manage a touch in the City penalty area. And then, out of nothing, they equalised.
A free-kick awarded 35 yards out was swung in by Joao Moutinho and Coady put his head between flying City boots to get Wolves back in to the game.
Man City winger Raheem Sterling had the first big chance of the game as his close range shot was parried out by Patricio
Replays showed City defender Ruben Dias to have been the defender playing Coady onside.
City responded immediately. Twice Jesus was in and twice he missed.
Then, with confidence renewed, Wolves broke twice to provide Traore with chances. He couldn’t extend the goalkeeper.
Sterling then almost scored twice, once from close range and once from long. And when Mahrez played Kyle Walker in down the right, his low cross was only half cleared and Jesus spun to turn it in.
City celebrated the strike appropriately and clearly felt the game was under control again.
Each win now feels significant. Mahrez scored the third from 15 yards in the 91st minute and Jesus added a fourth after Patricio saved from Ilkay Gundogan.
Relive all the action on the night from the Etihad with Sportsmail’s live blog from OLI GAMP