Man City march on despite Rodri red card
By Andy Hampson, PA
Manchester City had Rodri sent off as they extended their winning start in the Premier League with an unnecessarily complicated 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest.
The champions looked to be cruising to victory after early goals from Phil Foden and Erling Haaland put them in complete control at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
The mood changed dramatically early in the second half when Rodri was dismissed for violent conduct after raising his hands towards the neck of Morgan Gibbs-White.
The game became fractious and City lost some of their discipline before manager Pep Guardiola switched to a defensive shape to secure the three points.
It was City’s sixth win in succession at the start of their latest title defence but the price of Rodri’s indiscretion is yet to be seen. The influential Spaniard now faces a three-game ban which will include a trip to Arsenal next month.
That City made such hard work of victory was extraordinary given their dominant and untroubled start.
Julian Alvarez had already forced a good save from Matt Turner from a free-kick when they pieced together a remarkable 46-pass move that led to the opening goal inside seven minutes.
The hosts built patiently before Rodri caught out the Forest defence with a superb crossfield ball to pick out Kyle Walker’s run into the box. The England full-back’s touch was equally brilliant as he laid off to Foden with a cushioned volley. Foden then did the rest with a clinical strike.
City doubled their lead seven minutes later, this time after a Matheus Nunes run down the right.
The Portuguese reached the byline and then centred perfectly for Haaland, scorer of a hat-trick in the corresponding fixture last season, to head home from close range.
In spite of some rumblings about the high volume of chances the Norwegian had missed in his previous two games, it was his eighth goal in nine appearances.
Forest’s first serious attack ended when Taiwo Awoniyi was tripped on the edge of the area by Manuel Akanji. Both the Swiss and Guardiola – for his protestations – were booked but Gibbs-White’s free-kick came to nothing.
Alvarez twice went close to adding to City’s lead before the break as he forced another save from Turner before being denied by a good block from Willy Boly.
City’s control temporarily evaporated within minutes of the restart when Rodri got involved in a tussle with Gibbs-White by the corner flag.
The pair came face to face as the situation escalated and, amid the pushing and shoving, Rodri placed his hands close to Gibbs-White’s neck. The Forest midfielder ended up on the ground and referee Anthony Taylor showed the red card in Rodri’s direction.
City were unsettled and moments later Ederson and Awoniyi were booked after clashing in the area.
Guardiola settled his side by sacrificing Jeremy Doku and Alvarez for Kalvin Phillips and Nathan Ake.
Forest battled on but did not look like scoring until Anthony Elanga and Boly tested Ederson in injury time.
Haaland could have added a third for City but volleyed over after a good run by Ake.
There were further scuffles in the closing minutes with Jack Grealish – returning from injury as a late substitute – involved but City saw it out.