Hull City produced a valiant display against the global sensation that is Manchester City, but the Tigers were eventually unlocked by an avoidable penalty that preceded a fatigued last 20 minutes as the visitors compiled a result that arguably bloated their performance.
Guardiola's City still look flimsy in defence
During the opening stages of the game, Hull's discipline was tested as the likes of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne drifted across the pitch with the intention of exploiting the worst defence in the Premier League. Yet the Tigers held firm and gradually grew in confidence as they created chances of their own against a Man City defence that has been criticised in recent weeks and were weakened by an early injury to John Stones.
Jake Livermore and Harry Maguire both had opportunities to score as substitute Alexander Kolarov continued to look uncomfortable in the centre of defence. Similarly, Claudio Bravo continued to raise questions over his suitability to replace Joe Hart, leaving himself stranded on one occasion as Michael Dawson looped a header over him, only to see his effort cleared on the line by Bacary Sagna.
Toure took control of the game
Although City saw plenty of the ball with their adaptable formation, Hull's central defensive trio were arguably suited to facing a team not utilising a typical centre forward to lead their line. Their flair players dropped in and out of various pockets of space but could not penetrate the home defence.
However, the enterprise and knowledge of their international players allowed Yaya Toure increasing freedom throughout the game. The Ivorian had an incredible 121 touches as he influenced the tempo of the match, whilst also being prepared to track back with speed when his team lost the ball.
Sterling and De Bruyne grew their influence on the contest
The visitors opened the scoring when Andrew Robertson had a lapse of concentration to dive in on Raheem Sterling and give away a penalty. It was one of the only occasions a Hull player made a mistake, but proved critical as is so often the case in the top flight. Toure converted from 12 yards and that goal caused Hull to have to go on the offensive, a tactic combined with the appearance of Kelechi Iheanacho that opened up the game in favour of the former Champions.
Iheanacho offered a different problem as a target man in the City ranks, whilst the likes of De Bruyne, Silva, Toure and Sterling influenced the game behind him.
Belgian superstar De Bruyne produced a moment of magic for the second goal as he told Iheanacho where to make a run, before feeding Sterling who in turn crossed for the striker to convert a well-crafted move. It was as if De Bruyne could predict what was going to happen two passes later by manufacturing the whole move through his intelligent footballing brain.
Sterling then helped wrap up the victory after playing a part in all three goals. This time he played in Silva who delivered a telling cross that sliced in off the unfortunate Curtis Davies. After a laboured opening to the game, Sterling was proved once again just how dangerous he can be with his pace and trickery against tiring defences.