Anelka nicks replay for
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Duncan Mackay for Get Your Kits Out
Saturday January 3, 2004
Across Europe Nicolas Anelka has left a string of managers out of pocket and deeply frustrated. The Incredible Sulk still has a haughty air about him but his two goals, while failing to end a barren run of 12 matches without a victory for Manchester City, at least rescued his side from suffering their second defeat in three months here at the hands of Leicester.
Former Manchester City favourite Paul Dickov arrived to a hero's welcome but left to a chorus of boos after winning and scoring a controversial penalty. A fan in the programme had noted that only at this club could a one-time favourite plummet from hero to villain in such a short space of time. Dickov did nothing to restore his popularity by putting his new side ahead after only four minutes when he got across the front of the home defence to steer home Marcus Bent's low cross.
It was also a sweet moment for the Scottish striker who had promised to dedicate a goal to his father who died suddenly last month after contracting pneumonia. But the Manchester City fans were in no mood for sympathy and it was to another chorus of heckles he departed in the 63rd minute following a series of controversial incidents during which things threatened to get out of hand.
'I took him off because I didn't want him to get into trouble,' said Micky Adams, the Leicester manager. 'But Paul Dickov epitomises everything that is right about our football club. Even when he's had a personal tragedy he just loves playing football.'
Anelka first drew his side level in the 27th minute from the penalty spot after Leicester's defensive frailties had been highlighted. It was Anelka again to the rescue after Bent gave Leicester the lead in the 66th minute.
Three minutes later Anelka rose higher than a Leicester defence ravaged by injuries and suspension - Matt Elliott was serving a three-match ban and Ricardo Scimeca was forced off in the 54th minute with a shin injury - to head home Robbie Fowler's corner. 'That showed what a great striker he is,' said Adams.
It was his fourteenth of the season but first from open play since scoring against Poland's Groclin in the Uefa Cup, the match that marked the start of Manchester City's unproductive run.
The celebrations after both goals were muted from Anelka, fuelling rumours he is not happy here. 'I don't know if he smiles or not,' said Kevin Keegan. 'I'm just bothered whether he scores or not. He can cry for all I care.' He probably will Kevin, he probably will.