Man City leave it late            Return to Main Page
Sibierski bends in the first goal

Man City 3-2 Lokeren

Manchester City came from behind to secure a slender advantage for the second leg of their Uefa Cup first-round tie against Belgian side Lokeren.

Kevin Keegan's side looked to be heading for a shock defeat at the City of Manchester Stadium despite dominating for long periods.

City went in front through an Antoine Sibierski free-kick but slack defending saw them fall behind before the interval.

But Robbie Fowler poked home an equaliser before Nicolas Anelka got the winner late on from the penalty spot.

City made a confident start with Danny Tiatto seeing plenty of the ball down the left.

He put in a dangerous cross that found the head of Steve McManaman but his flicked effort flashed wide.

The opening goal came after less than seven minutes when Anelka was bundled over on the edge of the area by Atte-Oudeyi Zanzan.

Sibierski curled a free-kick into the net, although questions will be asked of the visitors' keeper Mladen Dabanovic.

6 mins: Sibierski scores from a free-kick
13 mins: Zoundi responds for Lokeren
40 mins: Kristinsson gives Lokeren a shock lead
77 mins: Fowler gets his first of the season
79 mins: Anelka scores from the spot to put City back in front

City looked lively and it seemed only a matter of time before the floodgates opened.

The visitors were lucky not to fall two behind when Sylvain Distin glanced Claudio Reyna's cross towards goal only for Arnar Gretarsson to clear off the line.

Then, from a position of almost complete dominance, City were hit by a sucker punch - and it was all their own doing.

Sun Jihai attempted to head an aimless Lokeren punt back to David Seaman but instead looped the ball high into the air.

Patrick Zoundi ran onto the loose ball and his half-volley flew over a hesitant Seaman and into the net.

It was virtually Lokeren's first attack of the game and City responded almost immediately with Reyna flashing a right-foot shot that landed just the wrong side of the post.

McManaman tried a snap-shot that just failed to curl enough to find the far corner.

Anelka then fired in a shot that Mladen Dabanovic managed to gather at the second attempt with Fowler ready to pounce.

But City's defensive frailties returned to haunt them as they fell 2-1 behind, and again they had no-one but themselves to blame.

Distin miskicked his attempted clearance from Ibrahim Conte's tame cross and the ball fell to an unmarked Runar Kristinsson, whose first-time shot beat Seaman.

City looked to have run out of ideas when Fowler's miskicked effort somehow managed to find a way into the bottom corner.

Less than two minutes later they were ahead again as Sun Jihai was fouled by Michael Van Hoey and Anelka powered home from the spot.

It was anything but a convincing win but City will be relieved to be taking a one-goal advantage into the second leg.


Man City: Seaman, Jihai, Sommeil, Distin, Tiatto, Bosvelt, Reyna, Sibierski, McManaman, Fowler, Anelka. Subs: Weaver, Dunne, Wright-Phillips, Sinclair, Barton, Berkovic, Jordan.

Lokeren: Dabanovic, Conte, Muzinga, Doba, Zanzan, Van Hoey, Zoundi, Gretarsson, Vidarsson, De Beule, Kristinsson. Subs: Van der Jeugt, Ekounga, Baldvinsson, Overmeire, Van Hoeylandt, Coulibali, El Bodmossi.                                               Return to Main Page

Referee: G Gilewski (Poland).