Manchester: Manchester City secured their fifth consecutive league win with a tight 3-1 victory over Wolves at the Etihad Stadium.
A Wayne Hennessey howler gifted the home side the lead on the 52nd minute, with Edin Dzeko knocking home with the goal at his mercy before Aleksander Kolarov pounced on David Silva's deflected effort quarter of an hour to double the hosts' advantage.
Vincent Kompany was rightly sent off less than 10 minutes later after he brought down Kevin Doyle in the area, as Stephen Hunt dispatched the resulting penalty to make Roberto Mancini's men endure a nailbiting final 15 minutes before Adam Johnson wrapped it up late on.
The hosts made three changes to the team that humiliated Manchester United in last week’s derby, with Aleksandar Kolarov, Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko, who scored two in midweek against Wolves, in for Gael Clichy, James Milner and the in-form Mario Balotelli. The latter pair, both of whom were superb at Old Trafford, most likely being rested for City’s vital trip to Villarreal in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Mick McCarthy also made a trio of changes to the starting XI that drew late on with Swansea City seven days ago, with David Edwards, Stephen Hunt and Adlene Guedioura taking the places of Matt Jarvis, Adam Hammill and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake.
Mancini's men came into the game having seen Sir Alex Ferguson's side bounce back from last week’s derby mauling with a 1-0 win away to Everton and as such, City’s lead at the Premier League summit had been reduced from five points to two and they started like a team desperate regain their advantage, as Nasri's 20-yard volley after only 74 seconds was tipped over by Wayne Hennessey.
The explosive start soon faded however, with the home side maintaining possession but struggling to break down a dogged Wolves defence down, and as the quarter of an hour mark passed, City were looking comfortable, if a little frustrated.
The mood grew shortly after as Dzeko failed to convert a tight volley from a matter of yards, with Micah Richards' deflected cross after a marauding run having bounced in to the path of the Bosnian. His reaction was slow and Wolves hung on to maintain the deadlock.
It was nearly broken shortly before the 25th minute as Aguero picked up the ball 30 yards out, moved dangerously towards the area and hit a rasping drive towards Wayne Hennessey's bottom right corner, only for the Welshman to keep it out with a superb stop that had him at full stretch. Not deterred, the Argentine then missed another chance from a matter of yards, lazily scooping an effort wide as City looked to dominate.
The home fans were becoming increasingly agitated as half time approached and referee Stuart Attwell was facing the majority of their fury, with Dzeko having been grabbed in the box by Stearman after a dinked cross by Nasri. Had the official been closer to the incident, you would suspect he would have pointed to the spot.
However, the main foe of City's first 45 minutes was proving to be Wolves' hero as Hennessey pulled out another excellent save to deny Dzeko after the Bosnian had been played in brilliantly by Silva. For the first time in five games, City went in at the break without a goal to their name.
They weren't made to wait long after the break to make the breakthrough however, and it was Hennessey who went from hero to zero as Aguero put the dallying 'keeper under pressure on the edge of his area, getting a foot on the ball for the deflection to land in Dzeko's path, who made no mistake with a calm half volleyed finish to hit his ninth of the season.
Hennessey's afternoon then went from bad to worse as City doubled their lead, with the Welshman at fault once again after having parried Silva's curled effort into the path of Kolarov, who dispatched from close range put the game comfortably in the home side's hands.
But capitulate Wolves did not and within eight minutes, the visitors had halved City's lead and reduced them to 10 men. Guedioura's rasping effort from outside the area proved too hot for Joe Hart to handle and with the ball bouncing towards the oncoming Doyle, Kompany brought the Ireland international to give Attwell no choice but point to the spot. The Belgian was duly sent off and Hunt, who had been a peripheral figure, coolly slotted it past Hart.
However, with Wolves pushing for the equaliser, City ruthlessly caught them on the break as Johnson hit an excellent low drive to secure a tight, but potentially huge home win. It was no means easy for Mancini's men, but it was a performance with the determination required for a sustained title challenge.