Manchester City 3 Blackburn Rovers 0
Rover Roll Over
Saturday 26th February 2012 : GYKO at the
Manchester City took advantage of a supine
Blackburn Rovers to extend their lead at the top of the Premier
League to five points over Manchester United, whose manager will
doubtless be considering an angry complaint to the Jockey Club, or
anyone else who will listen, about the in-and-out running of Steve
Kean's relegation-threatened side.
The situation at the top of the Premier League might be much closer
had not Blackburn managed a surprise win at Old Trafford a couple of
months ago, or alternatively had they shown the same sort of
attacking enterprise here. Instead, Blackburn accepted defeat so
meekly that Joe Hart barely touched the ball all evening, much less
made a save. The visitors' first, and only, attempt on goal came in
stoppage time. A Carlos Tevez apology has contained more fight.
Roberto Mancini issued a curt welcome back to Tevez in his programme
notes, but the club wisely refrained from making him a visible
presence at the game, indicating the manager has plenty of other
strikers to be going on with; the Argentinian must wait until next
month at least for a look-in. How the City crowd will greet him when
he does show his face is a matter of lively debate; opinion among
fans seems to be divided.
City began as if they intended to show Tevez he could stew for a
little while yet, Mario Balotelli taking under a minute to bring a
superb reaction save from Paul Robinson on the home side's first
attack, although initial impressions were slightly misleading.
Despite the whole of the game being played in the Blackburn half,
City spent the next half-hour passing the ball around Robinson's
penalty area without managing to test the goalkeeper again.
Balotelli did bring a save from a 30-yard free-kick and Adam
Johnson's hopeful effort from outside the area was scrambled away
rather than caught cleanly, but Robinson was comfortable dealing
with long-range efforts and it said much about City's lack of real
penetration that they were unable to fashion any opportunities
closer to goal.
Then on the half-hour mark they did, cutting Blackburn open so
cleanly that Robinson could have seen little of the Balotelli shot
that gave City the lead. David Silva took the ball from Yaya Touré
and sent Aleksandar Kolarov galloping down the left for a low cross
that Balotelli met on the six-yard line with a first-time finish
that gave the goalkeeper no chance. Robinson found himself quite
busy between the first goal and the interval, first keeping out a
shot from Silva that came straight at him and then improvising
instinctively when Vincent Kompany's flick from a corner seemed to
have taken him by surprise.
Perhaps a one-goal, half-time lead was nothing to shout about
against a Blackburn side that had slipped back into the bottom three
before the game kicked off as a result of Wolves' comeback at
Newcastle. But this is the same Blackburn who beat United and drew
at Anfield, both times after spending the first half soaking up home
pressure, so Mancini would have been reasonably pleased just to turn
round in front. He would have been even more pleased had Sergio
Agüero accepted an opportunity to double the lead in the last
seconds of first-half stoppage time, instead of missing the target
While there was only one goal in the game, City had to be on their
guard, even against opponents who were reluctant to cross the
halfway line, but when City scored again seven minutes into the
second half all pretence of a contest was over. Agüero was the
scorer, making up for his earlier miss, but surprisingly the
provider was Blackburn's Robinson, who made a hash of a routine
catch at a corner and ended up presenting the striker with the ball
and an open goal.
Blackburn were never likely to come back from that. All evening they
had failed to get anyone forward to give Yakubu Ayegbeni any
meaningful support and they did not significantly change their
gameplan once when they trailed by two goals. It was as if they had
already written off their chances here in favour of concentrating on
a run of slightly more winnable games coming up. "We never kept the
ball well enough to threaten, but at least we have no injuries,"
Kean said, revealingly. "We have some games now against clubs around
us, like Villa, Bolton and Wigan."
City are not so full of confidence at the moment that they cannot be
rattled by conceding a goal, but Blackburn never put the matter to
the test, merely giving a collective shrug when Edin Dzeko scored
within a minute of taking the field with a firm header from another
Ironically, Mancini had claimed beforehand that there is no such
thing as an easy game in the Premier League. He may want to
reconsider. "I am happy because our three strikers scored three
goals," Mancini said, before sending out his assistant to take
further questions. "There's a belief that we can win games here,"
David Platt said. "But there are some wins that you have to grind
Manchester City 4 FC Porto 0
Porto's Not So Incredible Hulk
Wednesday 22nd February 2012 : GYKO at the
There was merriment as well as a little
achievement. A surge of three goals in the last quarter of an hour
swept Manchester City into the last 16 of the Europa League, where
they will take on Legia Warsaw or Sporting Lisbon. This contest was
serious enough for Rolando, the visitors' centre-half, to be sent
off with a second yellow card for dissent. He had protested,
wrongly, that the substitute Edin Dzeko had been offside when giving
City a 2-0 lead after 76 minutes.
The firepower is to be enhanced, too, now that City will
rehabilitate Carlos Tevez, who is no longer estranged. The ambitions
of the victors are in proportion to the great sums at their
disposal, but this is also a club coming to terms with expectations.
It should not be forgotten that, where major honours are concerned,
City have collected just one League Cup and one FA Cup in the past
Regardless of the current means, the squad can still look tentative,
even if there were flourishes here. Progress in the Europa League
must have value, despite the thoughtless sneers, if it adds to the
confidence. No side can doubt its impact when it takes the lead
after 19 seconds, with Sergio Agüero the scorer.
It was critical to the impact of Roberto Mancini's line-up that Yaya
Touré, the creator of the opener, took the field at the Etihad
Stadium for the first time since his return from the Africa Cup of
Nations. "I've tried to find another Yaya in the squad but there is
no one," the City manager admitted before that tournament started.
That predicament will have to be addressed in the next round since
Touré will miss the first leg through suspension.
The Agüero goal had its origin in a sloppy clearance by Nicolás
Otamendi that went to Nigel de Jong, but the punishment initiated by
Touré's pass to the scorer was ruthless and adroit. Mancini's side
had a buoyancy because of Touré and although a 2-1 victory in Porto
from a goal down in the first leg had been an excellent result,
there was a certain grind to a display that brought half a dozen
City could afford to be carefree here and there was, for instance,
no angst when Agüero hit the bar after the goalkeeper Helton had
rushed out of his area and been unable to get to the ball first. Any
openings that presented themselves to Porto tended to be bungled and
the general proficiency of their play counted for little. Virtually
everything flowed in City's favour.
Porto, indeed, were the ideal contestants, since they were good
enough to test City without raising the possibility that they could
actually beat them. The visitors were watched by their former
manager, André Villas-Boas. He had hurried back from the Champions
League defeat at Napoli for his present club Chelsea. Porto were in
trouble here, but Villas-Boas might still have felt a pang of
nostalgia on occasion.
Little worked for Porto, however, and Maicon accidentally landed a
kick to the head of Otamendi, who was substituted. Following the
interval, a fragile Porto were breached by a second City goal, with
Agüero setting up Dzeko. The scorer and his fellow substitute, David
Pizarro, then combined before David Silva finished. The last strike
came with a shot from Pizarro himself, his first goal for the club.
City never treated this match as a chore. If there is an
appreciation that trophies have been lacking until last season, the
present squad seem keen to pack the cabinet. This outing, too, will
have reminded City of the value in the flair they occasionally
suppress in the Premier League.
Man City Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Barry
(Milner 58), De Jong, Silva, Toure Yaya, Nasri (Dzeko 69), Aguero
Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Savic, Balotelli.
Booked: Toure Yaya.
Goals: Aguero 1, Dzeko 76, Silva 84, Pizarro 86.
FC Porto Helton, Alex Sandro, Rolando, Otamendi (Cristian
Rodriguez 63), Maicon, Gonzalez, Fernando, Joao Moutinho, Varela (Sapunaru
63), Hulk, James Rodriguez (Defour 81).
Subs Not Used: Bracali, Kleber, Djalma, Podstawski.
Sent Off: Rolando (77).
Booked: Rolando, Gonzalez, Otamendi.
Ref: Wolfgang Stark (Germany).
FC Porto 1 Manchester City 2
Balotelli in no Card Revelation
Thursday 16th February 2012 : Ron Beresford
for GYKO at the Estádio do Dragão
Manchester City forced a late win from a Sergio
Agüero strike but this entertaining contest was tainted by the
racist chants aimed at Mario Balotelli and Yaya Touré, the latest
such unsavoury incidents to disfigure English clubs' seasons.
Kolo Touré, an unused member of City's playing staff here, was said
to have heard and been shocked at what sounded like monkey noises
made at his brother when he disputed a decision made by the referee,
Cuneyt Cakir, in the first half and Balotelli also seemed to draw a
similar noise as the opening 45 minutes drew to a close. The Italian
was then subjected to more chants when he was replaced by Agüero in
the 77th minute.
After Yaya and Kolo Touré jetted into northern Portugal from the
disappointment of losing the Africa Cup of Nations final on
penalties to Zambia to rejoin the squad, Roberto Mancini offered a
surprise by selecting the younger of the Ivorians in a strong XI.
Yaya Touré is the driving force in Mancini's side and with City
having no action after this until the return leg next Wednesday at
the Etihad Stadium the Italian hoped his talisman could instantly
resume where he had left off after his last appearance on 3 January
– the 3-0 league win over Liverpool, in which he scored.
But despite a powerhouse City front six that had Touré flanked by
David Silva and Samir Nasri with the returning Mario Balotelli up
top and Gareth Barry and Nigel De Jong in front of the defence,
Mancini's team would walk off at the break losing 1-0.
As Porto's night-time lights blinked through the open ends of the
Estádio De Dragão it was, though, Touré who produced the game's
first surge, a run along the right flank that turned the home
defence. This was then superseded by Vitor Pereira having the
satisfaction of watching his side find their slick gears.
The coach, who took charge of the holders of this competition after
André Villas-Boas's treble of domestic championship, Portuguese Cup
and Europa League landed him the Chelsea job last summer, saw most
of his side's joy come down Micah Richards' right flank. James
Rodríguez twice moved inside from his left channel to sweep the ball
across midfield, the second time finding Silvestre Varela on the
opposing flank in space which he might have exploited better.
After Alvaro Pereira and João Moutinho exchanged quick-quick passes
down the left and the former's ball into the City area was mopped up
by Gareth Barry, the visitors had a serious scare. The game's
opening corner was played short by Rodríguez and when the ball came
floating in, Rolando was allowed a free header that hit Gaël Clichy
and was tipped over by Joe Hart.
This awoke City who three times might have taken the lead Porto
would assume on 27 minutes.
Before Varela's strike, a Samir Nasri free-kick found Touré and his
snap shot forced the save from Helton. When the ball rebounded to
Micah Richards lurking to the right of Porto's area, his attempt was
again repelled by the keeper, this time low to his left.
Moments later Nasri zoomed beyond the home defence and blazed a
25-yarder at Helton who produced his third impressive stop.
The opener arrived after Helton became the latest Porto man to give
Richards a problem along his right berth, zipping past the defender
and unloading a low ball that Varela beat Vincent Kompany to for the
As the half neared its end there was a further alarm for Mancini's
troops: a corner from the left came out to Lucho González and the
midfielder's instant effort pin-balled off the City rearguard and de
Jong had to clear with an overhead kick.
The so far anonymous Balotelli had two late chances to level
proceedings: first with a header he was too sluggish with and then
to convert Clichy's curving ball from the left. But the telling
final touch escaped the striker.
This proved an augury of better fortunes (and a helping of luck)
when the game resumed following the break. First, Richards smacked
the ball off the post early on and then on 55 minutes City had the
A Touré cross was aimed towards Balotelli and Alvaro Pereira and
when the pair collided the ball hit the Porto defender and beat
Helton who had broken from his line.
City took the lead on 69 minutes when great work
by Yaya Touré down the right culminated with a slide rule pass to
Segio Aguero who slotted home comfortably.
After their late strike, City will fancy their chances of
progressing and in fairness this was a well deserved win in front of
a seriously partisan crowd whose only failing was the moronic abuse
of City's black players, a problem that doesn't seem to go away in
Portugal much to their shame.
FC Porto Helton, Danilo (Mangala 22),
Rolando, Maicon, Pereira, Gonzalez, Fernando, Joao Moutinho, Varela
(Kleber 77), Hulk, James Rodriguez, Mangala (Defour 89).
Subs Not Used: Bracali, Cristian Rodriguez, Djalma, Alex Sandro.
Booked: Danilo, Pereira.
Goals: Varela 27.
Man City Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Barry, De
Jong, Nasri (Zabaleta 88), Toure Yaya, Silva (Kolarov 82), Balotelli
Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Pizarro, Dzeko, Savic.
Booked: Toure Yaya, Kompany, De Jong, Barry, Nasri, Richards.
Goals: Pereira 55 og, Aguero 84.
Ref: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey).
Aston Villa 0 Manchester City 1 Back on
Sunday 12th February 2012 : Owen Carr for GYKO
at Villa Park
Even a squad as sleek and polished as Manchester
City cannot triumph unless they know how to grind their way to
victory. They now lead the Premier League by two points because of a
set-piece, with Joleon Lescott scoring the only goal of the game,
from a corner-kick in the 63rd minute. Pragmatism was at the heart
of City's display, but they quaked towards the close when Carlos
Cuéllar headed high when unmarked. Later still, Joe Hart made an
outstanding save from Villa's Darren Bent.
Nonetheless, the hosts mostly offered only resistance until boldness
became obligatory once the deadlock was broken. Allowances can be
made for largely conservative hosts in view of City's prowess, but
that does not account for the fact that Villa lie 15th in the table.
Supporters will be relieved that their side are seven points above
the relegation zone, yet also indignant that survival in the top
flight is any sort of issue.
Alex McLeish, the manager under strain, may have felt a little more
beleaguered by the loss of his defender Richard Dunne to a suspected
dislocated shoulder near the end of the match. "He's not going to be
back for the next game, that's for sure," the Scot said. "It's part
of the bad luck we've been having recently. We've got a specialist
in right now looking at him. I do believe he's going to be out for
at least a month."
Where City are concerned, even absentees carry a little glamour. The
forward Carlos Tevez is still estranged from the club since his
apparent refusal to warm up as a substitute during the match with
Bayern Munich in September. Roberto Mancini did not suggest that the
relationship with Tevez is about to be mended, but neither did the
manager give any sense of lingering conflict.
"It's up to him," said Mancini. "Carlos knows everything. We are
here, we [City] didn't change in these months. Carlos is a City
player. I am there, Carlos knows. I spoke to him one week after
Munich." The topic, of course, rises close to the top of the agenda
when goals look harder to come by for the club, but that in itself
does nothing to mend the damage already done in this affair.
Ambition seems far more of a burden to City than an inspiration.
Even if the thought is never spoken aloud, there must be a fear that
an outstanding opportunity to win the title could yet be squandered
by Mancini and his squad.
The City manager tried to play down the contribution of Hart towards
the close of this match, probably because he would therefore have
drawn attention to the strain his side were under towards the end.
"When one player is young, he needs to work a lot," said Mancini. "I
think he improved a lot in the last three years, but he is only 24."
McLeish, by contrast, had no hesitation in depicting the England
goalkeeper Hart as one of the elite already. "Experience is only
going to make him better and he's already in the top five goalies in
the world," McLeish stated. Even so, Hart showed some of his worth
by maintaining concentration when there was so little to do.
The hosts primarily had containment in mind. There has been a
realisation that sides such as Villa, who find themselves low in the
Premier League table, will have an obdurate and glum attitude, even
though that does nothing to relieve the pressure on McLeish.
No one, all the same, expected anything other than prudence when
neither side had scored. The Villa supporters, so long as the match
was goalless, accepted such an outlook because of the means at
City's disposal. The LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane, with his loan
spell at Villa Park ending, had no opportunity to round off his stay
with a flourish.
City, however, were almost as incapable. The strain seemed to tell
when a forward of Sergio Agüero's accomplishment haplessly
misdirected a free-kick from an angle in the 40th minute. In open
play, City were pedantic, with too many studied passes when the need
was for flicks and mercurial movement.
That frame of mind is understandable when so much is at stake, but
the victors in the search for a Premier League title will surely be
the line-up that still have self-expression in their moves. The
obstacles, in fairness, were substantial, especially when an
attacker of Emile Heskey's build often looked like an additional
Villa shed some of their conservatism after the interval even before
they had fallen behind. Just as City once again looked too dependent
on David Silva to outclass the opposition, they decided the outcome
with a set piece. The goal,with Gareth Barry heading back a James
Milner corner for Lescott to hook home, was no spectacle but it
delighted Mancini and his men.
The manager repeated an opinion he has aired before by being adamant
that Manchester United "are still better than us". It is an
observation he can be happy to make when the League table still
shows the Old Trafford club a little below City.
Aston Villa Given, Hutton, Dunne (Baker 90), Collins,
Cuellar, Petrov, Albrighton (Ireland 77), Gardner, Keane, Bent,
Heskey (N'Zogbia 69).
Subs Not Used: Guzan, Warnock, Bannan, Weimann.
Booked: Petrov, Dunne, N'Zogbia.
Man City Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, Barry, De
Jong, Milner, Silva (Richards 90), Johnson (Nasri 84), Aguero (Dzeko
Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Pizarro, Savic, Clichy.
Goals: Lescott 63.
Att: 35, 132
Ref: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).
Manchester City 3 Fulham 0
Snow fun for Fulham
Saturday 4th February 2012 : GYKO at the
Manchester City made the best of difficult
conditions to keep the pressure on Manchester United when they visit
Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, brushing off a negligible Fulham
challenge to win by three goals and put the same number of points
between themselves and their neighbours.
It was not a vintage display but it was never going to be, given the
wintry weather. City simply needed a convincing win to put their
recent setbacks behind them and they easily accomplished that. They
might have won by four goals but for a weak finish by Micah Richards
late in the game, but the way the City captain muscled an
uninterested Mousa Dembélé off the ball before setting off on a
determined solo run neatly encapsulated the difference in attitudes
between the two sides.
"We needed to win quickly after the Everton defeat, and keeping a
clean sheet was important," Roberto Mancini said. "Maybe we had some
luck, but you need luck. If you are not lucky it is better to stay
Martin Jol was less inclined to believe in good fortune. "We
conceded a soft penalty and an own goal," the Fulham manager said.
"That's always going to make it hard away from home against a
City had to turn to the error-prone Stefan Savic in central defence
when Vincent Kompany was unable to shake off a knee injury picked up
at Everton, though there were plenty of attacking options at the
other end with David Silva, Samir Nasri, Sergio Agüero and Edin
Dzeko all in the starting line up, albeit with Nasri in central
midfield to allow Adam Johnson to complete a front four. Dzeko was
nominally the focus and was quickly involved, bringing a save from
Mark Schwarzer in the second minute then volleying over the bar from
Gareth Barry's cross.
The first time City used the full width of their attack they took
the lead through a penalty, as Agüero on the left found Johnson on
the right and the winger went to ground after the merest hint of a
tackle from Chris Baird. It was not clear whether there was any
intent, or even whether there had actually been a foul, though Mike
Dean took his time before deciding contact had been made and Agüero
finished with aplomb from the spot. "Johnson did well to get the
penalty," Jol said with a wry smile. "He gave the referee a decision
Simon Davies brought a save from Joe Hart and Damien Duff saw a shot
roll the wrong side of a post before Baird's day got even worse on
the half hour when he deflected a shot from Johnson past his own
goalkeeper. Aleksandar Kolarov had crossed from the left for
Agüero's flick to find Johnson unmarked at the far post, though his
shot was going across the face of goal until it hit Baird and went
in. Fulham were in trouble now and as if to emphasise the fact,
Philippe Senderos almost contributed another own goal from a
Richards cross, only this time Schwarzer was able to react and make
City could have had another penalty when Dickson Etuhu brought down
Silva with a challenge that looked riskier than the one from Baird
that had been penalised. A third goal also looked likely when Agüero
attempted to launch a quick break from halfway on the stroke of the
interval, yet with Dzeko, Silva and Johnson all running into space
in support, he failed to look up in time and ended up over hitting a
pass that eluded all of them.
The pitch remained playable throughout the second half, although one
of the penalty boxes had to be freshly defined with a shovel, but
with snow coming down constantly the game was occasionally in danger
of disappearing from view. The first shot on target after the
interval came from Fulham, Stephen Kelly obliging Hart to make a
routine stop after 62 minutes. It would be harsh considering the
conditions to say that the previous 15 minutes of football had not
amounted to much, but it said a lot that the men with the snow
shovels produced a much livelier crowd reaction than anything the
Senderos was rather harshly booked for what was no more than an
accidental collision with Kolarov on the edge of the area when
players on both sides were finding it difficult to stay on their
feet. The defender hurt himself in the process and for one reason or
another found himself unable to challenge Agüero as he set up City's
third, allowing the Argentinian to skip into the area from Johnson's
pass and square the ball to leave Dzeko a chance he could not miss.
Fulham managed to hit a post shortly afterwards, or at least a
deflection off Dzeko's heel did following a corner, but the
visitors' luck was out. City's was definitely in. After losing in
midweek to a feisty and highly-motivated Everton, they could not
have asked for more accommodating opponents.
An unmemorable contest long over, the announcement of five minutes
added time at least brought one of the best chants of the season,
the crowd sang, "It's f***ing freezing, we wanna go home."
Man City Hart, Richards, Savic, Lescott, Kolarov, Nasri
(Milner 54), Barry, Silva, Johnson (Pizarro 90), Aguero (De Jong
Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Clichy, Rekik.
Goals: Aguero 10 pen, Baird 30 og, Dzeko 72.
Fulham Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Senderos (John Arne Riise
73), Baird, Davies, Murphy, Etuhu (Ruiz 68), Duff, Dembele (Gecov
Subs Not Used: Stockdale, Kasami, Hughes, Frei.
Booked: Senderos, Dembele, Baird.
Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).
Everton 1 Manchester City 0 Not so
Wednesday 1st February 2012 : Brian Johnstone
for GYKO at Goodison Park
It was a night when one man brought handcuffs and
Manchester City played as though in a straitjacket. They will go
into February top of the league, encouraged by the fact that the
last eight titles have been won by the team leading at this stage,
but this was a dishevelled, almost perplexing performance on an
evening that will otherwise be remembered for a pitch invader
handcuffing himself to the goalposts.
Never before has a Premier League match been interrupted by a
middle-aged man protesting about Ryanair's recruitment policies, on
the apparent basis that his daughter did not get a job with the
airline. Play was suspended for four minutes while a dozen or so
stewards and police officers worked out how to release him, the
solution arriving when a member of groundstaff found some
bolt-cutters. In hindsight, City probably regret the game was not
It was a surreal subplot to a match in which they rarely looked like
a team good enough to challenge for the title. They have found
Everton the nearest thing to a bogey club in recent years and Darron
Gibson's second‑half winner, his first goal since signing from
Manchester United last month, means they have won only two of their
last 15 league games at Goodison.
Taking into account the fact Everton were missing their first-choice
centre‑halves and had six outfield players on their bench with an
average age below 20, it was worrying in the extreme for a side with
City's ambitions. If they are going to hold off Manchester United,
now level on points, they are going to need a dramatic improvement
between now and May regardless of Mancini's insistence that it was
all his fault.
The City manager said he had prepared the team badly and been guilty
of under-estimating their opponents. "I thought it may be easier,"
he said. "I didn't prepare us well and it is important for me to
know my mistakes because I can't do the same in the next game. I
should know here it is never easy – never.
"We had played well against Tottenham in our last game, we had won
our last three Premier League games and Everton were missing three
or four players. It was a bad night for me. It's going to be
impossible for me to sleep tonight."
City had plenty of possession but did little with it. Their
full-backs seldom broke forward in the usual manner, the forwards
struggled and, faced by a team that are renowned for effort and
togetherness, they did not always demonstrate the same competitive
spirit. However much he defended his team, Mancini will have noted
the way Gareth Barry turned his back on Gibson's shot for the game's
The story of City's failures should not overshadow the way Everton
overcame the absence of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin in the
centre of defence to keep out the division's leading scorers. This
was David Moyes's 150th league victory. "Arguably it might have been
the best," he said. "The team we had, the players missing, we had to
defend for long times but it was a great effort. That's as good as
it has been at Everton for a long time."
Their performance was epitomised by the way Tony Hibbert, a
right-back by trade, handled his move to centre-half, despite giving
away six inches to Edin Dzeko. John Heitinga was equally impressive
and, though the home team seldom threatened City's goal, there was
plenty more to impress Nikica Jelavic, watching from the stands
after his £6m move from Rangers.
City will look back on the moment, with the game goalless, when
Samir Nasri thumped a 30-yard effort against the joint of post and
crossbar but, in total, they managed only three shots on goal. The
passing was nowhere near as crisp as usual. Even in the half-hour
when they were losing, the increased pressure never really amounted
David Silva had little patches and Sergio Agüero flitted in and out
but even when they were playing the more cohesive football there was
little at the end of it. They will reflect on a couple of penalty
claims, one for Phil Neville's handball and one for Tim Howard
clattering into Joleon Lescott's back, rather than a succession of
Moyes could also cite the moment, inside the first five minutes,
when Denis Stracqualursi's downward header beat Joe Hart only for
Lescott to clear on the line. That came from a straightforward
corner and was the first indication that, even with Vincent Kompany
back from suspension, City were susceptible.
They were punished after 59 minutes. Gibson has always had a
powerful shot and when Landon Donovan laid a short pass into his
path the crowd implored him to have a go. His strike took a decisive
flick off Kompany to fly past Hart.
Everton Howard, Neville, Hibbert, Heitinga, Baines, Donovan,
Gibson, Fellaini, Drenthe (Baxter 78), Cahill, Stracqualursi (Vellios
Subs Not Used: Mucha, Gueye, Barkley, Forshaw, Duffy.
Goals: Gibson 60.
Man City Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott (Kolarov 68),
Clichy, Barry (De Jong 86), Milner (Johnson 62), Silva, Aguero,
Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Savic, Razak.
Booked: Kompany, Lescott.
Att: 29, 856
Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).