By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Adama Traore’s late double stunned Manchester City, who suffered a shock 2-0 defeat at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday that left them eight points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.
Wolves forward Traore struck twice in the final 10 minutes to condemn the champions to their first home league defeat since they lost to Crystal Palace on Dec. 22.
Yet it was City’s second defeat in their last four league games following the 3-2 loss at Norwich City last month and it will increase Liverpool’s belief that they can win their first league title in 30 years.
With Juergen Klopp’s side having won all eight of their games so far this season, the Nov. 10 clash with City at Anfield is already looking like a game which could have a major impact on the destiny of the title.
The win was a massive boost for Wolves, who have endured a tricky start to the season due to their early commitments in the Europa League. It was just their second victory of the campaign and their first on the road.
City looked shaky at the back throughout the game with Wolves having three good chances to open the scoring in the first half after waltzing through the makeshift central defensive pairing of Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho.
As early as the fifth minute, City’s defence was ripped wide-open with Patrick Cutrone bursting through on goal before shooting meekly wide.
Then Ilkay Gundogan gave the ball away to allow Raul Jimenez to break free, but the Mexican’s shot was blocked by Fernandinho and Cutrone’s follow-up struck the Brazilian’s head.
Otamendi was at fault in the 22nd minute, his sloppy pass allowing Jimenez to burst clear again, but this time it was their Brazilian keeper Ederson who saved their blushes, rushing out to foil the Wolves striker.
Yet Pep Guardiola’s side also lacked their usual sharpness in attack and the nearest they came to scoring was a 67th-minute free kick from David Silva, which struck the bar.
As so often, City had plenty of possession, but unusually they could not make the most of it, with poor crosses into the box and little of the crisp-passing that so often characterises their play.
The decisive blow came when Jimenez broke from deep in his own half, skipped past Otamendi and found Traore who kept his cool to beat Ederson.
Traore then added the second, deep in stoppage time, after Jimenez found him again through the exposed City defence.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Toby Davis)