Anelka hat-trick sinks Villa   back to Manchester City


Anelka picks the ball out of the net after completing his hat trick

Man City 4-1 Aston Villa
Sun 14th September 2003

Nicolas Anelka fired a second-half hat-trick as Manchester City finally claimed their first premiership win in the new stadium.

The new City of Manchester Stadium looked as though it might still be waiting for a first home win as Villa deservedly led at half-time courtesy of Juan Pablo Angel's header.

But City, inspired by another former Real Madrid man in debutant midfielder Steve McManaman, roared back in spectacular style after the break to move up to third place in the Premiership.


McManaman was the driving force behind Kevin Keegan's team.

The summer signing from Madrid was the only City player to carry any real threat in a disjointed first half and continued to pull the strings as Villa choked after the break.

It was McManaman's mazy run early in the second half that sparked the City turnaround.

A determined drive into the box only ended when Marc Delaney handled under pressure, giving Anelka the chance to slam City level from the penalty spot.

32 mins:Angel arches to head home Hendrie's deep cross
48 mins: Anelka levels from the spot after Delaney handball
50 mins: Tarnat slams home unstoppable free-kick
68 mins: Anelka fires his second penalty
83 mins: Anelka seals hat-trick with clinical run and shot

Two minutes later, City's dizzy turnaround was well under way thanks to a stunning free-kick from German full-back Michael Tarnat.

Villa substitute Alpay, on for injured captain Olof Mellberg, tugged at Paolo Wanchope on the corner of the penalty area, but could have had little inkling that his foul would be so emphatically punished.

Tarnat had only one thing in mind as he wound up for a fierce free-kick which Sorensen waved a fist at but only saw as a blur as the ball fizzed past him.

Villa's stretched defence was missing the steadying influence of captain Mellberg and they were pulled apart again as City grabbed a third midway through the second half.

It came from another penalty after Shaun Wright-Phillips and Sun Jihai combined superbly down the right and Peter Wittingham clumsily ended the flowing move with a blatant trip on Chinese international Sun.

Anelka gratefully accepted the chance of a second from the spot, driving into the top corner despite the hapless Sorensen getting his fingers to the ball.

And the French striker superbly completed his hat-trick seven minutes from time when he easily outpaced the bemused Alpay and rattled a shot beyond Sorensen.

The remarkable turnaround ensured that Angel's opener was little more than a distant memory for the City fans.

Angel remains Villa's record buy having signed for 9.5m more than two years ago, but is like a new signing under David O'Leary.

The Columbian striker nearly opened the scoring on 16 minutes when he brilliantly flicked the ball over his own head and volleyed into the side netting.

But he found his range on 32 minutes when loose City defending allowed Hendrie to swing over a cross for Angel to arch a header beyond the reach of David Seaman.

The lead was no more than Villa deserved and the scoreline prompted a chorus of boos from the home fans at the half-time whistle.

But the jeers soon turned to cheers as City clinically turned the game on its head in the second half.


Man City: Seaman, Jihai, Sommeil, Distin, Tarnat, Wright-Phillips, Barton (Sibierski 73), McManaman, Sinclair, Anelka, Wanchope (Reyna 82).
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Fowler, Dunne.

Aston Villa: Sorensen, Delaney, Mellberg (Alpay 37), Johnsen (Hadji 66), Samuel, Hendrie, McCann, Hitzlsperger, Whittingham, Angel (Dublin 76), Allback.
Subs Not Used: Postma, Kinsella.

Booked: Johnsen.

Attendance: 46,687.

Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).                                           back to Manchester City