MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01: Carlos Tevez of Manchester City moves away from Alejandro Faurlin of Queens Park Rangers during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers at Etihad Stadium on September 1, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
On this occasion, the stoppage time goal scored by an Argentinian striker was to put the gloss on a victory and not dramatically alter the course of a match, decide a title race or re-write the course of a clubs history. When the inspirational Carlos Tevez redirected Edin Dzeko's woefully scuffed attempt past Rob Green in the Q.P.R. goal the champions could breathe a sigh of relief. The diminutive forward's fourth goal of the season was also his 50th Premier League goal in sky blue and ensured there would be no late twist. Job done.
City started this game purposefully, immediately pinning Q.P.R. back in their own half and dominating possession high up the field. A flurry of corners and half chances had already come and gone by the time an inswinger from David Silva fell to the feet of Yaya Toure via a blocked attempt on goal from Tevez. The big Ivorian made no mistake, rifling the ball into the roof of the net. So far so good.
As the half progressed further opportunities were created and spurned. Silva saw an attempt saved at close range by Green and Kolarov's decision making went awry, electing to pick out Tevez when in a prime position to shoot on goal or hammer the ball across to Dzeko, ensuring that the comfort of a second did not arrive.
A touch of anxiety began to materialise in the east Manchester air in spite of Q.P.R. failing to really threaten Joe Hart's goal in the first period. Indeed the closest the travelling side came to scoring was from a bizarre incident when Rodwell, 25 yards from his own goal, won a 50-50 challenge and in doing so looped the ball over the scrambling Hart and onto the roof of the net, to collective sighs of relief.
The second half opened with Q.P.R. again happy to sit deep and City seeking to kill the game. One move in particular involving immaculate touch and control in midfield from Yaya Toure, waspish jinking and the perfectly weighted pass from Silva and a curling first time left foot effort from Zabaleta would have brought the house down. The crossbar intervened.
And then the wobbles returned. As in the previous home fixture against Southampton the first concerted period of pressure from the opposition resulted in an away goal. Silva dallied and was caught in possession, Andrew Johnson drove in directly from the left flank and when his fierce drive took an inhibiting deflection Hart could only parry the ball to the waiting Zamora who couldn't miss. Game on.
Parity was not to last long though as City again showed the resolve of champions to edge ahead. Tevez made the most of a fizzed in centre from Kolarov and when he was able to hook the ball back into the danger zone, Dzeko had done enough to elude his marker and nod home from a couple of yards.
Q.P.R. had deduced by now that their best chance of taking something from the game was to attack the home side. Aided by some attacking substitutions, they were taking the game to City who at times looked defensively disjointed and open. Until Tevez's intervention the outcome was never certain.
It is hard to say definitively why the season has started with City looking defensively frail. Missing Gareth Barry and the layman's graft he provides in midfield is obviously a factor, but in his absence Rodwell had an excellent game. Stagnant at Everton and labelled as a holding midfielder, Rodwell has much more to his game than breaking up play, although he did that well enough here. One feels that when he and Toure are fully adjusted to each other's game then City will have a true box to box midfield, two pistons powering the engine room attacking and defending in equal measure. An intriguing prospect and an astute move by Mancini.
The smattering of new signings in the Q.P.R. line-up aside, Rodwell was the only summer acquisition to take the field. Javi Garcia was introduced to the fans before the game along with Scott Sinclair, who took in the atmosphere and weight of expectation from his vantage spot on the bench. It is a position he may well have to get accustomed to as he seeks to break into the side.
Nastasic and Maicon will increase competition and options following the international break, and Mancini will certainly be able keep opposition managers guessing when it comes to personnel and tactics in future games. With the challenge of Stoke up next in the Premier League and the small matter of Real Madrid at the Bernabeu to follow, the individual errors will have to be cut out if defensive coherence and confidence is to return. A clean sheet at the Britannia will be very welcome indeed.
Man of the match: Carlos Tevez