Man City sink Swansea to hit ground running
Three impressive goals gave Manchester City a 3-2 win at Swansea City on New Year's Day that kept the 2012 champions on course to regain the Premier League title.
Fernandinho struck the opening blow, in the 14th minute, and although Wilfried Bony equalised on the stroke of half-time and bagged a late consolation, second-half goals from Yaya Toure and Aleksandar Kolarov won the day.
City have struggled to replicate their stunning home form on the road this season, but victory gave them back-to-back away wins for the first time this term. Swansea, meanwhile, have now gone six games without victory.
Somewhat short of goals of late, Swansea played Jonjo Shelvey in a more advanced role against an orthodox 4-4-2 from the visitors on an afternoon of driving rain at the Liberty Stadium.
It was Manuel Pellegrini's visitors who almost took the lead inside three minutes, however, when Edin Dzeko dragged his shot wide of home goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel's far post.
Swansea's response was encouraging, with a seven-man passing move ending up with Bony firing wide of the target from 25 yards.
Two minutes later, Swans manager Michael Laudrup was forced into a change when Pablo Hernandez pulled up with a hamstring injury.
Roland Lamah, who scored Swansea's equaliser at Aston Villa at the weekend, replaced the Spaniard, with Wayne Routledge switching from left to right.
The disruption was minimal, but as the half wore on City grew in stature and posed Swansea's back four numerous problems.
The deadlock was broken when Jonathan de Guzman's attempted clearance from a Samir Nasri corner fell to the feet of Fernandinho, who made no mistake with a low shot from just inside the box.
Swansea came under increasing pressure thereafter, with Jesus Navas enjoying plenty of the ball on the right, although, at times, his final delivery was not what it should have been.
De Guzman had a chance to equalise mid-way through the first half, but the Dutch midfielder was denied by a regulation save from Joe Hart.
At the other end, a wonderful piece of skill from the influential Navas set up Dzeko, whose shot ricocheted off the back of Chico Flores.
Tremmel was glad to see the ball drift wide and equally pleased to see Angel Rangel clear at the far post after another run and precise cross from Navas.
Gradually, Swansea grew into the game themselves and after one or two near misses, they equalised in the final minute of the half.
A slick move started by Bony was finished by the �12 million ($19.9 million, 14.5 million euros) striker, who headed De Guzman's centre past the helpless Hart despite appearing to be offside.
Alvaro Negredo caught Flores napping six minutes into the second half as City fought to redress the balance, but having set himself up eight yards out, he scuffed his shot into the arms of Tremmel.
Pellegrini demanded greater urgency from his side and after Negredo saw his far-post volley blocked by Ben Davies, Toure turned on the edge of the penalty area and beat Tremmel via the heel of Ashley Williams.
The introduction of Javi Garcia, for Negredo, provided early proof that Pellegrini was happy to sit on his side's one-goal advantage.
It also gave Swansea added impetus to head off in search of a second equaliser, but in the 66th minute City struck again.
Kolarov robbed Routledge deep in his own half and after racing 50 yards, the Serb beat Tremmel from 25 yards with a smart shot that the German goalkeeper could not keep out.
Bony continued to provide a threat and with 18 minutes remaining Hart was forced to beat away the Ivorian's strike from distance.
From the ensuing corner, the England goalkeeper mistimed his jump and was relieved to see the ball hit Williams and spin clear of the empty net.
Bony did set up a nervous final few moments with his second goal, from distance, in stoppage time, but City held on.