Manchester City beat Nottingham Forest to make it six wins from six despite Rodri red card

Pep Guardiola's side seal 2-0 Premier League win thanks to goals from Foden and Haaland

Phil Foden's goal for Manchester City against Nottingham Forest came after a 46-pass move. EPA
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Manchester City maintained their 100 per cent Premier League record thanks to first-half goals from Phil Foden and Erling Haaland against Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola's side were in total control after a scintillating first-half performance that saw England attacker Foden finishing off a tremendous team move before Haaland headed home his eighth goal in six games.

But what looked like being a routine win – and potential repeat of last season's 6-0 win in the same fixture – was made more complicated when Rodri was sent off just after half-time.

The Portuguese midfielder, who had played a key role in Foden's opener, was shown a red card for violent conduct by referee Anthony Taylor after putting his hands round the neck of Morgan Gibbs-White.

The Forest attacker then produced a delayed reaction before going down theatrically near the corner flag holding his throat, with VAR later upholding Taylor's decision.

Guardiola sacrificed Jeremy Doku and Julian Alvarez, replacing them with defensive players in Kalvin Phillips and Nathan Ake.

And those changes paid off as Forest, despite making several attacking substitutions, failed to seriously trouble Ederson in the City goal until the Brazilian saved from Anthony Elanga in injury-time.

The victory moved City five points clear of Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Arsenal at the top of the table, with all three playing on Sunday.

“An exceptional game in the first half,” said Guardiola. “Exceptional game in the second for our resilience and our work because we played, I would say, 51/52 minutes ten against eleven so it was not easy but we were fantastic.

“I thought the way we played in the first half was amazing so against a difficult side for the physicality, the pace they have up front, so yeah, recover for the next one.”

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 cross-field 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 with Forest's defenders nowhere to be seen.

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.

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 Rodri was off.

City were unsettled and moments later Ederson and Awoniyi were booked after clashing in the area.

Forest battled on but did not look like scoring until Elanga and Boly tested Ederson in injury time.

Haaland could have added a third for City but volleyed over after a good run and ball by Ake.

Updated: September 23, 2023, 5:24 PM