Manchester City held off a second-half Wolves fightback to begin their quest to regain the Premier League title with a win at Molineux.
City did the damage in a superb first half as Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden, playing for the first time since being sent home from England duty in disgrace, both found the net.
At that stage it seemed a case of how many the visitors would get, with Foden and Raheem Sterling both going close and Wolves keeper Rui Patricio making two decent saves.
However, City ran out of steam after the break.
Daniel Podence twice went close for the hosts and Kyle Walker hacked a scuffed Ruben Neves shot off the line, before Raul Jimenez, scorer of 27 goals last season, netted for the second time in this one 12 minutes from time.
However, Wolves were unable to repeat last term’s exploits, when they came back from 2-0 down to win this fixture, and Gabriel Jesus’ injury-time effort sealed victory for Pep Guardiola’s side.
De Bruyne was superb in the number 10 role as City made light of the absence of seven senior players.
In opening the scoring from the penalty spot, after he had been fouled by Romain Saiss, the Belgian extended his record of being involved in more goals than any other player since the start of the 2019-20 league campaign.
While it was those attributes that led to him winning the PFA prize despite playing for a team that finished the season 18 points behind champions Liverpool, it was De Bruyne’s tenacious streak that came to the fore in the second period on Monday, when City had to be on their toes defensively and new £40m centre-back Nathan Ake showed his class.
But if De Bruyne was the standout City player, it was also a good night for Foden.
The 20-year-old England midfielder has been shielded to an extent by City since that breach of coronavirus quarantine guidelines in Iceland, for which he has apologised. Whatever lessons Foden needs to learn off the field, he is evidently a very able student when it comes to matters on it.
His goal was a thing of beauty, as he firmly finished off a move he started from Sterling’s cutback. Foden also nearly scored a second with a floated effort that just went wide of the far post.