|Middlesbrough 8 Manchester City 1
couldn't make it up
Sunday 11th May 2008 : Edward
Foulkes for GYKO at the Riverside
Sven-Goran Eriksson's anticipated final match
in charge of Manchester City ended in humiliating fashion as his
10-man side lost 8-1 at Middlesbrough. The former England boss has
guided the club to ninth in the Barclays Premier League and a likely
place in the UEFA Cup via the Fair Play League but that does not
appear enough to save his job. Thai owner Thaksin Shinawatra has
expressed his disappointment with the final outcome of Eriksson's 10
months in charge and the former Thai Prime Minister is fully
expected to dispense with the Swede's services sooner rather than
That is much to the disgust of City's supporters, who chanted their
support for the Swede throughout the match.
Stewart Downing fired home a 16th-minute penalty after Richard Dunne
was harshly sent off for bringing down Tuncay Sanli (see picture
right) and eight minutes before the break Afonso Alves slotted home
the second from 14 yards. A superb volley with the outside of his
left foot from Downing, another strike from Alves, a deflected
long-range effort from Adam Johnson, Fabio Rochemback's 30-yard
free-kick and a goal from Jeremie Aliadiere were followed by a
consolation for Elano before Alves completed his hat-trick.
The match began badly for City when striker Benjani Mwaruwari
received lengthy treatment after being caught in the chest by
Rochemback's swinging right leg and was eventually replaced by Nery
Castillo in the 13th minute.
Boro's first chance fell to George Boateng from Rochemback's
free-kick but a diving Dunne blocked the shot at the expense of a
corner. From Rochemback's delivery, Afonso Alves completely missed
his kick but Julio Arca was behind him to curl a 20-yard shot
The hosts took the lead in the 16th minute when Tuncay raced on to a
long ball and, as he entered the penalty area, he accidentally
caught Dunne's leg as the defender tried to get back. The City
captain was harshly dismissed by referee Phil Dowd and Stewart
Downing clinically dispatched the penalty.
Andreas Isaksson then did well to smother Alves' close-range effort
from Downing's 29th-minute corner, although his save was more down
to luck than judgment.
Rochemback wasted the chance to shoot from 16 yards, instead passing
to Tuncay and allowing City's defence to get back to block.
But the next time the Brazilian went forward, the decision to pass
paid off as he picked out compatriot Afonso Alves who slotted home
left-footed in the 37th minute.
Late on in the half, Isaksson pulled off a superb save to deny
Boateng just five yards out from Downing's left-wing cross.
Isaksson was soon into the action in the second half, parrying
Rochemback's free-kick which was fortuitously awarded for Sun
Jihai's foul on Downing and wrongly deemed to be outside the penalty
area by Dowd.
Exactly the same scenario cost Sun a booking in the 54th minute,
although Downing appeared to once again go looking for the
But the England winger did something positive in the 57th minute
when, after Boateng's right-wing cross was knocked on, he smashed a
superb volley with the outside of his left foot inside the far post
to end the match as a contest.
Two minutes later, Afonso Alves made it 4-0 when he raced on to
Arca's through-ball to stab past Isaksson.
Chris Riggott then had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside as Boro
threatened to run riot.
City's luck was obviously not in as, in the 70th minute, Boro
grabbed a fifth when Johnson's long-range shot was deflected past
Elano replaced Martin Petrov but, in truth, the visitors were just
going through the motions.
Rochemback made it 6-0 with a 30-yard free-kick 10 minutes from time
and substitute Aliadiere fired home the seventh in the 85th minute.
Elano scored a consolation before Afonso Alves completed his
Small pockets of fighting broke out between City supporters and
stewards at the end of the match, with some seats being ripped out
and thrown on to the pitch.
However, a strong police presence, which included dog handlers, soon
quelled the violence.
Middlesbrough Schwarzer, Young (McMahon 75), Riggott,
Wheater,Pogatetz, Boateng, Rochemback, Arca (Johnson 62),
Downing,Sanli (Aliadiere 62), Alves.
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Taylor.
Booked: Pogatetz, Young.
Goals: Downing 16 pen, Alves 37, Downing 58, Alves 60,
Johnson 70, Rochemback 80, Aliadiere 85, Alves 90.
Manchester City Isaksson, Jihai, Corluka, Dunne, Ball,
Ireland,Gelson, Petrov (Elano 71), Garrido, Vassell (Hamann
62),Mwaruwari (Castillo 13).
Subs Not Used: Hart, Caicedo.
Sent Off: Dunne (15).
Goals: Elano 87.
Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).
Liverpool 1 Manchester City 0
Another Anfield defeat
Sunday 4th May 2008 : Matin
Bailey for GYKO at Anfield
Torres scored his eighth consecutive goal at Anfield as Liverpool
completed a comfortable win over Manchester City. The solitary
strike was scant reward for a dominant display that should have
reaped more goals, particularly during a second half in which Joe
Hart's goal came under constant siege.
With Liverpool's title prospects having long since evaporated there
was a subdued air at Anfield, not least as a result of the Reds'
Champions League exit in midweek, and it was perhaps understandable
that it took the home side a while to warm to their task. They
eventually worked an opening after 20 minutes when Ryan Babel stole
in at the near post to glance Dirk Kuyt's right-wing cross inches
over the bar.
Steven Gerrard, who gave a typically commanding
performance at the apex of the hosts' midfield, twice went close
before the break with two fine attempts on goal. The first, a low
30-yarder, flew a yard wide of the target on 26 minutes, but his
second, five minutes later, was destined for the far corner of
Hart's net until the City goalkeeper, at full stretch, tipped it
The visitors, whose supporters gave manager Sven-Goran Eriksson a
rousing reception on what was almost certainly his penultimate match
as City manager, passed the ball around nicely in patches and were
unfortunate to see one sweeping move brought to a premature close by
an erroneous offside flag, but the only real threat came from the
home side, for whom the pace of Babel and Torres frightened the life
out of City's labouring rearguard.
Torres's acceleration was put to good use two minutes after the
re-start when Gerrard played him through with an exquisite pass with
the outside of his right foot. The Spanish striker showed the City
defence a clean pair of heels but passed up the chance to score by
steering his shot wide of the far post. Kuyt had only just
squandered a free header at the far post when Gerrard picked him out
with a corner and Liverpool were almost made to suffer for their
wastefulness when Martin Petrov beat Pepe Reina with a 20-yard
free-kick. Unfortunately for Eriksson's side, though, the
Brazilian's curling effort came back off the post.
As if chastened by the warning, Torres made no mistake with his next
chance. Latching on to a pass from midfield, the Spaniard powered
past Richard Dunne before dispatching a deft, angled finish under
Hart. City were then swamped and Hart had to be at his best to beat
out first a fierce volley from Kuyt and then Lucas's acrobatic
follow-up. On 64 minutes Kuyt headed Sami Hyypia's perfectly-flighted
cross against the crossbar and two minutes later Babel missed a
sitter as Torres somehow stayed on his feet despite Dunne's attempts
to hack him down, worked his way to the by-line and cut the ball
back for the Dutchman, who spooned over from all of six yards.
City spluttered into life in the latter stages, Benjani Mwaruwari's
piledriver of a free-kick warming the palms of Reina with 10 minutes
to go. And the lively former Portsmouth striker caused momentary
panic in the Liverpool area with a cut-back from the right that
Steve Finnan almost turned into his own net. As the game became
stretched Torres brought another save out of Hart with a fierce
strike from range but there would be no addition to the striker's 32
goals in his first season in English football, who had to settle for
sharing Roger Hunt's 46-year-old record of scoring in eight
consecutive games at Anfield.
Manchester City 2 Fulham 3
Why are 44,000 so Blue??
Saturday 26th April 2008 : David
Petters at the Comstad for GYKO
Diomansy Kamara capped a most unlikely fightback for Fulham, a
victory that is destined either to live forever in the club's
folklore or reside in the 'too little, too late' category depending
on events over the next two weeks.
For City manager Sven-Göran Eriksson, defeat
presents him with a wide variety of other concerns beyond which
division his club will be playing in next season. His employer,
Thaksin Shinawatra, made a rare appearance at the game and was seen
looking none too pleased in the tunnel as the teams came off the
field at the end. The Thai billionaire has let it be known for some
time that he has not been content with City's second half of the
season and would review Eriksson's position - along with other
members of staff - this summer. This was not a time for City to
implode quite so spectacularly.
The bare and brutal statistics did not make
good reading for Fulham pre-game and their hold on Premier League
status looked even more tenuous with 10 minutes gone when Stephen
Ireland curled an impressive finish past goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
A further 11 minutes in, and the lead was
doubled, this time Benjani taking advantage of the risible Fulham
defending to score unopposed. Yet it had started brightly for Fulham
and the visitors looked capable of taking advantage against an
injury-depleted City back line that included just one player, Vedran
Coluka, who could be deemed first choice.
Elano, the Brazil winger playing at
right-back, and Michael Ball, the second choice full-back deputising
at centre-half, were the two major culprits in City's shaky opening.
After three minutes, Jimmy Bullard was given the space to shoot wide
from 25 yards, then Simon Davies's cross from the right touchline
picked out Clint Dempsey for a 15-yard shot that England Under-21
keeper Joe Hart did well to turn around his post.
Brian McBride, too, found the space and time
to roll a dangerous ball across the City goal that Elano turned
behind for a corner, a period of unrelenting Fulham pressure that
was only eased by the opening goal. Martin Petrov's darting run into
the area exposed the usual frailties in the Fulham defence and his
neat back-heel found the unmarked Ireland on the edge of the area,
the Irish midfielder curling a superb finish past Keller's dive into
the far corner of the net. Fulham's previous verve and enthusiasm
visibly wilted and City threatened to engulf them.
Petrov's drag-back from the by-line was aimed
at Darius Vassell until Brede Hangeland made a timely interception
and the Bulgaria winger concluded another exciting run with a cross
that flew inches over Vassell's head. There was no such error
shortly after, however, as Elano's pass freed Vassell down the right
and the powerful forward surged into the area, pushing his cross
beyond the reach of two defenders for Benjani to slam the ball in
from eight yards.
The City defence still gave Fulham hope of
salvaging something on the day. In the 34th minute, another deep
cross from Davies found the head of the unmarked David Healy whose
strong header forced another fine save from the excellent Hart,
tipping the effort over. Soon after, Sun Jihai was forced to make a
timely tackle to deny McBride a scoring opportunity.
Vassell almost added to the rout early in the
second half with a darting run to collect Ireland's pass before
Keller did well to save his shot. The American was equally alert
moments later to smother Benjani's strike at the foot of his post
and the City striker threatened again, just before the hour, as he
headed Petrov's corner over the bar.
It appeared to be a question of by how many
goals Fulham would lose, Petrov almost making it three when he
chased on to Benjani's through ball and placed the ball just wide.
There was no sign of the drama to come, not even when Bullard's
64th-minute free kick narrowly missed the City goal. But six minutes
later, substitute Diomansy Kamara took a long pass out of defence
and turned the inept Corluka, who had mistakenly let the ball bounce
twice, before scoring through the legs of Hart.
In the 79th minute, a most unexpected
fightback continued when Sun wrestled another replacement, Erik
Nevland, to the ground and Danny Murphy scored on the rebound after
Hart had saved his penalty struck to the goalkeeper's right.
There followed some hectic passages of
football at both ends but, even then, it was hard to predict the
eventual - joyous for Fulham - outcome. Two minutes into
injury-time, Murphy's through ball found Kamara who sped 20 yards
before beating Hart from a wide angle with a magnificent shot.
Man City: Hart, Elano, Corluka, Ball,
Jihai, Vassell (Caicedo 80), Gelson, Johnson, Petrov, Ireland
(Geovanni 56), Mwaruwari.
Subs Not Used: Isaksson, Castillo, Logan.
Goals: Ireland 10, Mwaruwari 21.
Fulham: Keller, Stalteri, Hangeland,
Hughes, Konchesky, Davies, Bullard, Murphy, Dempsey, Healy (Kamara
64), McBride (Nevland 71).
Subs Not Used: Warner, Bocanegra, Andreasen.
Goals: Kamara 70, Murphy 79, Kamara 90.
Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).
Manchester City 3 Portsmouth 1
Hi Ho at last we go!!
Sunday April 20th 2008 : Brian
Hatton for GYKO at the COMSTAD
Manchester City produced their best performance of 2008 just when
Sven-Goran Eriksson needed it. After club owner and Fraud Thaksin
Shinawatra made a thinly-veiled criticism of the manager for his
team's slump in form since Christmas, goals from Darius Vassell,
Martin Petrov and Benjani Mwaruwari gave City maximum points from an
open and entertaining game. John Utaka's goal for Portsmouth did not
dampen the enthusiasm of the Eastlands majority.
City began with a curious back-four, Vedran Corluka slotting in
alongside Richard Dunne in central defence and, most intriguingly of
all, Elano playing as the right full-back. But the visitors failed
to test the cogency of that formation, mustering nothing more than a
misguided Sylvain Distin header in the opening minutes. The home
side, it's true, didn't offer much early on either - in fact,
nothing at all happened in the first ten minutes. But then David
James brought proceedings to life by marking the week in which he's
been short-listed for the PFA Player's Player of the Year award by
reminding us that he remains sadly prone to errors. After rushing
from his box to intercept a long ball that Sol Campbell could easily
have dealt with, James decided against booting it clear and took a
touch instead. That dawdling allowed Benjani to dispossess him, and
the striker slipped the ball inside to Stephen Ireland, who
unleashed a shot-cum-cross that Vassell slid into the empty net.
If James was at fault for that, he was unlucky to concede again just
two minutes later. Petrov collected the ball at the left hand side
of the area and, short of options, poked a weak right-footed toe
ender goalwards. James would probably have gathered it comfortably
had it not deflected off Campbell and into net.
Now Pompey were reeling and City rediscovered the zip and verve that
earned Eriksson such praise in the first half of the season.
Benjani, in particular, was giving his former team-mates a tough
time. But they were invited back into the contest in the 24th minute
by some slack City defending. Lassana Diarra collected a
half-cleared corner and curled it back into the centre, where
Jermain Defoe was totally unmarked. The striker connected with his
shoulder rather than his head but that was enough to help the ball
on to John Utaka, who reacted quicker than any defender to prod it
past Joe Hart and into the net.
That goal did not alter the pattern of the game, however, and City
continued to impress going forward. In the 30th minute Elano romped
down the right and picked out Benjani, who, after cleverly creeping
between the centre-backs, could only loop his header into James's
arms. Three minutes later the Zimbabwean again threatened, this time
receiving the ball at his feet before spinning past the ever-more
exasperated Campbell. Again, however, his finish was imperfect,
James easily clasping his low shot.
Pompey's circumstance deteriorated in the 42nd minute when Vassell
set off in chase of an Ireland through-ball. It was doubtful he
would reach it before James, but Herman Hreidarsson decided not to
take the risk - and crudely barged Vassell to the ground. A red card
was inevitable, though at least the Icelander was smart enough to
commit the foul just outside the box. Elano smacked the free-kick
into the wall.
Hreidarsson's expulsion meant Sulley Muntari was shunted into the
left-back position but City had to re-arrange too when Richard Dunne
limped off in the 53rd minute. Novice Sam Williamson was introduced
for his debut at left-back, meaning Michael Ball shifted into the
centre as the City's defence took on an even more unfamiliar look.
Benjani should have extended City's lead moments later but smashed
the ball over the bar from ten yards after a piece of sublime skill.
He was almost made to regret that when Pompey hurtled down the other
end and came within inches of levelling the scores. Hart pushed a
Muntari shot onto the inside of the post, and Utaka beat Williamson
to the rebound only to see his shot crash off the post too.
The game was now quite exhilarating, Pompey belying their numerical
inferiority to regularly stretch City's defence. On the hour mark
Vassell wasted a wonderful opportunity to secure maximum points for
City when he slashed a shot badly wide from 16 yards. Two minutes
later Muntari did well to block a ferocious long-range effort from
In the 74th minute, Benjani finally got the goal he deserved,
scuttling on to a neat through-ball from Ireland before twisting
deftly past Distin and slamming the ball past James at the near
Ten minutes from time substitute Milan Baros was presented with a
chance to claim his first goal for Portsmouth since joining in
January. Kranjcar found him with a splendid clipped pass and the
Czech controlled the ball nicely on his chest before blasting
straight at Hart.
A thoroughly deserved victory for Man City
with a host of top performances from the likes of Petrov, Gelson and
Man City: Hart, Elano (Caicedo 90),
Corluka, Dunne (Williamson 54), Ball, Vassell, Ireland (Geovanni
75), Gelson, Johnson, Petrov, Mwaruwari.
Subs Not Used: Isaksson, Castillo. Booked: Williamson
Portsmouth: James, Lauren, Campbell,
Distin, Hreidarsson, Utaka (Baros 75), Muntari, Diarra, Diop (Aubey
75), Kranjcar (Davis 83), Defoe.
Subs Not Used: Begovic, Nugent.
Sent Off: Hreidarsson (41)
Ref: Andre Marriner (W Midlands).
Sunderland 1 Manchester City 2
City Snatch It
Saturday 13th April 2008 : Ryan
Connor for GYKO at the Stadium of Lite :=?
Darius Vassell's scuffed winner gave
Manchester City victory over Sunderland after a dramatic final 10
minutes. City were under the cosh until Nyron Nosworthy tangled with
Daniel Sturridge in the area and Elano stepped up to fire home the
Sunderland levelled immediately when Andy Reid crossed for Dean
Whitehead to volley home at thenear
But City won it when Elano slid Vassell clear and his shot bobbled
past Craig Gordon and into the corner of the net.
The late goal glut was both unexpected and welcome, especially for
City who in customary style had not managed a shot on goal until
Elano's spot-kick.It had been Sunderland who had looked more like
scoring throughout the game, although Roy Keane's side were hardly
in inspirational form themselves.The Black Cats came into the match
on the back of three straight wins that had seen them climb out of
immediate danger at the bottom of the Premier League table. But,
Kenwyne Jones aside, they were unable to find a way through a
makeshift City back-line that was missing Micah Richards and Nedum
Onuoha through injury.
Jones has played a big part in Sunderland's consolidation in the top
flight this season and showed why here. The big Trinidad and Tobago
striker was a constant thorn in the City defence and kept Richard
Dunne busy all game. Initially, Jones' industry did not translate
into chances and a shot by Kieran Richardson that fizzed over the
bar was the only early effort on goal.
But the former Southampton striker almost made his mark when he ran
on to Richardson's pass, out-muscled Dunne and fired in a shot that
Joe Hart did brilliantly to block with an outstretched arm.
City were not creating much themselves but some decent crosses from
the left boot of Martin Petrov kept Black Cats keeper Craig Gordon
Most of the play, however, was compressed in midfield and fierce
tackles and misplaced passes were the order of the day.
Things were similarly hectic after the interval and the home side's
lack of quality when it mattered was shown by Daryl Murphy, who
curled his shot high into the stands when he had time to pick his
City seemed content to sit back and soak up Sunderland's pressure so
it was something of a surprise when they scored on a rare venture
into the home side's half. Nosworthy will feel he was harshly
adjudged to have clipped Sturridge in the area but that did not stop
Elano from despatching the resulting penalty.
Understandably Sunderland reacted with urgency and three minutes
later they were level - Whitehead meeting Reid's cross with a
But City were not done yet and Elano volleyed
over from six yards before substitute Vassell somehow scored the
winner. The former England striker ran on to Elano's pass and,
although he failed to connect properly with his shot, he still got
enough behind it to beat Gordon.
Only a superb double stop from Gordon prevented Petrov, and then
Benjani, from extending City's lead but he could not save his side
from an unlikely defeat.
Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley, Nosworthy, Evans, Collins,
Chopra (O'Donovan 79), Whitehead, Reid, Richardson (Leadbitter 46),
Jones, Murphy (Edwards 62).
Subs Not Used: Fulop, McShane.
Booked: Whitehead, Bardsley, Nosworthy.
Goals: Whitehead 82.
Man City: Hart, Jihai, Corluka, Dunne, Ball, Gelson, Elano
(Hamann 89), Ireland (Sturridge 58), Johnson, Petrov, Mwaruwari,
Sturridge (Vassell 83).
Subs Not Used: Isaksson, Geovanni.
Booked: Gelson, Corluka.
Goals: Elano 79 pen, Vassell 87.
Ref: Mike Riley (Yorkshire)
Manchester City 0 Chelsea 2
Euro fade out
Chelsea kept up the
chase in the Premier League title race with victory at Eastlands to
virtually condemn Manchester City to mid-table and perhaps the UEFA
Fair Play lottery for European football next season.
It was Chelsea's sixth straight win over City without conceding a
goal, since Kevin Keegan's City beat Jose Mourinho's Chelsea at
Eastlands in October 2004 with a Nicolas Anelka penalty.
While his European dream hangs by a thread, Sven-Goran Eriksson will
also be waiting nervously for the results of a scan on Nedum
Onuoha's shoulder after he was substituted following a collision
with Michael Essien.
City rang the changes following their defeat at St Andrew's last
weekend, with Sun Jihai, Javier Garrido, Dietmar Hamann and Darius
Vassell replaced by Michael Ball, Michael Johnson, Martin Petrov,
and Vedran Corluka.
The visitors arrived having shuffled their pack following their
midweek defeat in Istanbul with one eye on the return leg at
Stamford Bridge. Amongst the changes were former City players Anelka
and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
The backlash from their Istanbul test began in the sixth minute for
Chelsea when former City striker Anelka advanced down the right wing
and crossed for Essien, who was running at the City defence from
midfield. Richard Dunne moved to intercept the pass but could only
pass the ball into his own net beyond Joe Hart.
While the goal served to separate the two sides in the first half,
in truth, City had more chances in an open and eventful first 45
minutes in which both sides competed well.
City were twice denied by deflections before half-time, once from
Stephen Ireland's shot following Benjani's well-timed run and cross.
The other came when Michael Johnson and Ireland's one-two ended in
Johnson's shot looping into the air off Juliano Belletti and Ashley
Cole volleying off the line with Carlo Cudicini stranded.
The chances didn't end there for City though and the pick of
Petrov's first-half efforts on goal was a rasping left-footed drive
over Cudicini's bar.
Chelsea took control of the second half and made City rue their
missed chances. Hart was alert to intercept Wright-Phillips' cross
for Anelka in the 50th minute, but Salmon Kalou wrapped it up in the
53rd minute when Essien's pass fell to him and the forward ghosted
through the City defence and rounded Hart to make it 2-0.
Frank Lampard's cross in the 55th minute found Anelka free of City's
defence, but his measured header was tipped against the bar by Hart,
who managed to grab the loose ball before it rolled over the line as
Anelka closed in.
After the defeat, City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson said of defender
Nedum Onuoha who suffered a dislocated shoulder and also a suspected
broken wrist during the match: "I do not know how bad his shoulder
is. He is in hospital, having X-rays.
"Nedum also has a problem with his wrist. We are just hoping it is
Of the defeat, the former England manager said: "We have taken a
step forward today because we played some good football against
"While we made a slow start and conceded an early goal, we then
created more chances than them in the first half. I am less
depressed now than I was last week."
Manchester City: Joe Hart, Vedran Corluka, Nedum Onuoha (Sun
Jihai 59), Michael Ball, Richard Dunne, Michael Johnson, Gelson
Fernandes, Martin Petrov, Blumer Elano (Darius Vassell 65), Stephen
Ireland (Felipe Caicedo 75), Benjani Mwaruwari,
Subs not used: Andreas Isaksson, Dietmar Hamann
Booked: Gelson Fernandes 45
Chelsea: Carlo Cudicini, Ashley Cole, Rodrigo da Costa Alex,
Juliano Belletti (Paulo Ferreira 86), John Terry, Michael Essien,
John Obi Mikel, Shaun Wright-Phillips (Joe Cole 52), Frank Lampard,
Salomon Kalou, Nicolas Anelka,
Subs not used: Andriy Shevchenko, Michael Ballack, Henrique Hilario