Town perform, but result doesn't go for Wagner's men
- Great defensive effort from the Terriers
- Deflected Schindler header gives Town the lead
- Agüero and Sterling hit back
A second-half rally ensured that it would be Pep Guardiola's Manchester City who escaped from HD1 with all three points.
The final score was a harsh one on the Terriers, who more than matched a star-studded and rampant City side of recent weeks; a side which today had a big battle through Town's magnificently positive tenacity and work ethic throughout.
The Cityzens' second visit in as many seasons to Kirklees saw Town make three changes from last weekend's defeat to Bournemouth. Skipper Tommy Smith, Christopher Schindler (making his return from suspension) and Jonathan Hogg featured for the Terriers in the places of Florent Hadergjonaj, Martin Cranie and Elias Kachunga respectively.
As expected, Pep Guardiola's City looked to dominate possession from the off, but Town kept an organised shape to minimise the danger that the visitors’ offensive unit had in abundance.
Leroy Sané’s corner towards the far post was the initial chance that Town's defensive ranks had to contend with, and that specific chance was dealt with well before an arriving compatriot of Laurent Depoitre, Vincent Kompany, could force a header goalwards.
A quick free-kick from the right saw the lively Agüero nip between two static blue and white shirts. The Argentinian produced a tidy finish, but thankfully the linesman's flag on the Britannia Rescue stand side of the ground came to Town's rescue, which kept the deadlock firmly poised.
The Terriers were determined to thwart City the best they could by keeping that organisation of shape. The home side's opening chance of the contest arrived in the shape of a counter-attack down the right. Tom Ince held the ball up superbly on halfway before unleashing Tommy Smith, and the Captain did a fine job of beating his marker to cut inside but saw a left-footed effort fail to trouble Ederson between the sticks for the visitor.
Signs of positivity certainly for Town, who followed Tommy's half-chance with another in the form of Danny Williams leaping well to challenge Kompany in the air, but just couldn't get enough on the header in a bid to potentially hand the home side the precious advantage.
City had by no means taken full control of the encounter despite being a side renowned for slick and intricate passing moves but David Wagner's men weren't in a mood to let City off the hook with ease.
However, the Etihad outfit would see a great chance go begging as Leroy Sané's dash to the by-line resulted in a low cross roll agonisingly across the six-yard box which no player in City green accepted the opportunity to tap home in to what would've been an empty net.
A flurry of City chances concluded with Agüero volleying way off target after the industrious Kevin De Bruyne had somehow managed to work a decent amount of space on the edge of the Town penalty area.
30 minutes in and City had yet to break down a highly resilient Blue and White door. Sané robbed Tom Ince of possession mid-way inside Town's half before advancing with pace down the left. The German used good awareness to find De Bruyne in the area, but the Belgian found himself wedged between three Town defenders, which ultimately caused the creative playmaker to produce a loose touch which Jonas Lössl would gratefully rush out to smother.
The far side flag once again came to the home side's rescue, as Agüero failed to spring the offside trap having been played through by David Silva's inch-perfect pass to split the solid combination of Schindler and Zanka.
Nerves were well and truly been jangled as Agüero this time ensured he stayed onside to fire a testing effort at Jonas Lössl. Town's Danish custodian used strong wrists to palm away the Argentinian's powerful strike, and England International Kyle Walker couldn't follow up on the rebound by placing his return effort into the side netting.
The weather may have took a bitterly cold turn, but the action on the pitch was going extortionate lengths to warm up the terraces with exciting end-to-end action. Zanka had a golden chance to put Town ahead at the far post but could only prod wide after Christopher Schindler flicked on Aaron Mooy's wicked cross.
Back at the other end, Brazilian International Fernandinho drilled high and wide in a relatively open amount of space having been picked out from Raheem Sterling's inventive cross at the right-hand by-line.
Nonetheless, it would be Town who went in at the break a goal to the good. Stemming from Tom Ince's breakaway being put out for a corner by the recovering Fabian Delph, Christopher Schindler would get the final touch from a Blue and White shirt to hand the Terriers a more than deserved advantage, although Nicolas Otamendi may have been the man to have had the inevitable touch, which led to Pep Guardiola having a lot of work to do come the second period.
Sterling instantly raised the intensity with a sharp dart into the area as the second-half began. On the first occasion he entered the Town penalty area and went down, referee Craig Pawson waved away any penalty claims, but the man with the whistle would blow for a spot-kick just seconds later.
Scott Malone was adjudged to have pulled back Sterling as he burst towards goal and Town were made to pay as the spot-kick was coolly converted by Aguero to bring the Cityzens level.
City very nearly grabbed a quickfire second as goal-scorer Aguero was slipped through by De Bruyne only to find Lössl in the way to close off the angle in double quick time.
The impressive Sané rattled the frame of the crossbar from a 25-yard free-kick which had Lössl beaten soon after but again, Town continued to be dogged in their defensive work in the huge effort to keep out a side which has been dominant within both domestic and European competition.
By now the game had become one fiery affair, and the atmosphere had been substantially ramped up a notch by the terrific noise of the Town faithful in all four corners of the ground.
Silva wasted a chance for the visitors by chipping easily into the arms of Lössl after De Bruyne's skilful curved pass around the back of Town's excellent central defensive duo had created an opening.
The introduction of Collin Quaner provided Town with a spark, with the big German instantly causing problems with his pace down the right flank matched up with Fabian Delph.
With six minutes to go, Sterling found the back of the net - with a large amount of good fortune. Agüero's initial attempt at Lössl fell invitingly into the England winger's path, but Town will be feel severely hard done by as Sterling tucked home thanks to what looked to have been a loose touch when in the process of bringing the ball under control.
Former City signing Aaron Mooy was inches from bringing the Terriers level by bending a long-range free-kick just inches to the wrong side of the top corner.
City certainly didn't have it their own way in West Yorkshire as Town produced yet another tremendously spirited performance on home soil, but ultimately came out on the wrong side of the score-line ahead of successive away trips to Arsenal and Everton in the coming week.
Town’s line-up (4-5-1):
Jonas Lössl; Scott Malone (Chris Löwe, 74'), Christopher Schindler, Mathias Zanka, Tommy Smith (c); Rajiv van La Parra, Danny Williams, Jonathan Hogg (Steve Mounié, 84'), Aaron Mooy, Tom Ince (Collin Quaner, 81); Laurent Depoitre
Robert Green, Martin Cranie, Florent Hadergjonaj, Elias Kachunga