Pellegrini gets the perfect start as City power home in the end
Plzen’s fight ended by three second-half goals
Throughout the half Plzen found joy through the left foot of Pavel Horvath, their 38-year-old captain, who exposed City’s vulnerability whenever he swung a delivery into their penalty area.
After Kolarov had been penalised for a foul, Horvath fired in a curving free-kick from the right straight at Hart, who did well to repel the ball as it came at him through a crowded area.
A contest that had began with the good news for City of Kompany’s return, following the groin injury he suffered in the 4-0 win over Newcastle United on August 19th, reached the break with Pellegrini needing to inform his troops to counter the threat of Horvath while increasing the tempo when they attacked.
With the Spain international David Silva and Clichy each ruled out due to knee and thigh problems, respectively, Pellegrini had fielded the strongest XI with the intention of a providing City with that elusive Champions League opening group match win.
That victory looked assured 13 minutes into the second half as City hit their opponents with a three-goal blast. The first came after Agüero outmuscled Lukas Hejdas near halfway. If the Argentinian had gone down the right back might have been sent off by the referee Paolo Tagliavento. Instead, the striker stayed on his feet to continue his run towards goal before rolling the ball sideways to Dzeko who fired home the finish past Kozacik. The second came from Touré, after he produced a curling from 20 yards which the goalkeeper could not stop.
In between times Plzen might have equalised.Frantisek Rajtoral moved impressively down the right to reach the byline and cut back a cross from which Jan Kovarik blasted against Pablo Zabaleta for a corner that came to nothing.
But the home side’s hopes disappeared when Agüero scored the goal which his display deserved when a neat swivel was followed by a strike that gave his side an impregnable lead after which Pellegrini’s men could relax.
This was the perfect way to lead into Sunday’s visit to the Etihad Stadium of Manchester United for the first derby encounter of the season. With Kompany coming through 90 minutes unscathed, the next wish for Pellegrini will be that Clichy and Silva can also return to give him the best chance of recording a win over the champions that would register a significant early psychological blow over their hometown rivals.