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Carlos Tevez lifted reigning champions Manchester City back to within a point of the Barclays Premier League summit with the only goal of the match against Swansea.
Roberto Mancini will be pleased to have escaped with the points after Swansea threatened Joe Hart’s goal on several occasions.
City second clean sheet of the season arrived after Joe Hart saved twice from Michu with the score at the Etihad Stadium still goalless.
Tevez broke the deadlock with a stunning strike from 25 yards after a low-key first hour. That briefly lifted the atmosphere but there was still plenty of anxiety around Eastlands during a game that ran to 12 minutes of injury time after lengthy stoppages for injuries to Michel Vorm and Micah Richards.
Following criticism of his defensive formations after the midweek loss in the UEFA Champions League to Ajax, Mancini dropped Joleon Lescott and played Matija Nastasic in a flat back four with two left-backs, Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov, in the line-up.
Swansea exploited some uncertainty between Vincent Kompany and Nastasic in the City defence as Angel Rangel crossed from the byline but Richards came across to cut off Michu.
The Swans striker was injured in the challenge and Hart was very sporting to call for play to be halted while he received treatment.
City could have benefited from an error when Vorm gifted possession to Sergio Aguero but Tevez was unable to take up the attack.
Hart showed he was as alert as ever when Michu raced clear in the closing stages of the first half with a well-timed run, blocking bravely from the Spaniard.
City looked a different proposition immediately after the break as Mancini sent on Mario Balotelli for Kolarov and within two minutes the Italian had seen a shot blocked. Aguero also tried to find his range but fired wide.
Balotelli had a great opportunity as he latched onto a fine pass from Nasri and took the ball round Vorm, but the keeper did just enough to force him wide and the chance passed.
Balotelli was in the thick of the action again as Richards whipped in a cross and the forward went down, claiming he was pulled back by Ashley Williams. Atkinson was not interested.
Swansea then pieced together a fine move which led to Jonathan de Guzman crossing for Michu, who powered a header straight at Hart. Richards sliced a clearance to give Ki Sung-yeung a follow-up chance but Kompany blocked.
City made the most of that reprieve and took the lead on the hour as Tevez took a pass from Clichy in his stride and hit a swerving 25-yard effort past Vorm.
It was his first goal in eight appearances and lifted the atmosphere at Eastlands, with even a ‘Poznan’ breaking out.
Swansea’s woes were compounded by an injury to Vorm, who appeared to hurt himself stretching for Tevez’s shot. He was unable to continue and left the field on a stretcher.
Despite taking the lead, City were still sluggish and De Guzman attempted to catch them out with a long-range effort but missed the target.
City suffered a blow when Richards, who missed the first two months of the season through injury, went down in agony holding his knee. He eventually had to leave the field on a stretcher wearing an oxygen mask.
That led to a lengthy, nervy and very long period of injury time but City managed to hold out.
|30 Mar 2013||v Newcastle (H)|
|21 Apr 2013||v Spurs (A)|
|19 May 2013||v Norwich (H)|
|07 May 2013||v West Brom (H)|
|16 Mar 2013||v Everton (A)|
|15 Dec 2012||v Newcastle (A)|