Manchester City 0 Wigan Athletic 1

FA Cup Final
Saturday 11 May 2013, 17.15 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy, Y Toure, Barry (Dzeko 90), Silva, Nasri (Milner 55), Tevez (Rodwell 69), Aguero
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Lescott, Garcia
Goals: -
Booked: Zabaleta, Nastasic, Barry
Sent Off: Zabaleta

Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez

Wigan1City walked out at Wembley for the fifth time under Roberto Mancini for their second FA Cup final in three seasons, but it was the underdogs in Wigan who got off to the better start. An early free kick for City was hit into the wall by Tevez and the rebound effort at goal by Toure was comfortably pushed away by Joel. But that was as good as it got for the blues in the opening stages.

Aguero lost possession mid-way in the Wigan half and it gave them the chance to break: McManaman turned Clichy on City’s left and found Kone on the opposite flank. He held it up and returned it to the midfielder, who had ghosted past Nastasic into a pocket of space in the box, but his shot curled wide of the post. Joe Hart was left rooted to the spot.

It was soon all Wigan pressure: Maloney volleyed a cross from the edge of the box right at Nastasic and the fans at the other end of the ground appealed for handball, though it would have been a very harsh penalty, having rolled off the defender’s knee first. It was the same player again who, having cut in from the left, took on a shot towards Hart’s bottom left corner, but it was just wide.

Mid-way through the half, City created their best chance of the game. Nasri cut inside from the left flank and slipped a ball in behind the full-back for Silva to chase. He centred it, looking for anybody arriving in the middle, and it fell nicely for Tevez. He tried to place the ball back across the goalkeeper, but Joel managed to get his toe to the ball while diving the other way, and divert it over the bar.

Wigan responded. Following a Toure blocked shot, the underdogs broke away. Kone managed to slip the ball through for McManaman to chase and he left Nastasic and Kompany for dead, to race through on Hart. The speed of the break took him wide, but Hart committed himself and the midfielder was able to take it around him. Zabaleta recovered to slow him down and allow Hart time to get back into position, but another McManaman turn left the goalkeeper stranded. When the midfielder shot, though, Zabaleta was in the right place to block. It was a let off.

The City fans would have been expecting a completely different City to emerge from the tunnel at half time. To an extent that was true, as they started the half on the front foot, but they were still very much below par. Tevez’s low cross to the near post was met on the slide by Aguero, but Boyce got the last touch to knock it behind for a corner. A Silva cross then led to a Wigan breakaway, that Zabaleta stopped cynically and he saw yellow.

But soon, Wigan were putting the blues under pressure again. It remained goalless thanks to a brilliant challenge from Kompany, coming across from the right side of the box to slide to block from McManaman, after he had stepped around Clichy and Silva. A free kick from the right wing was then crossed towards the back-post by Maloney and, with Hart standing and watching, it dropped onto the top of the bar and away.

A loose ball from Barry was then more costly than simply allowing Wigan a chance to break. Trying to find Kompany, his ball was cut out and McManaman was through on goal. Kompany and Nastasic couldn’t get back to cover and Zabaleta was forced to commit himself to the challenge. He missed the ball and took all of the man, resulting in his second yellow card.

As the board went up for stoppage time, Clichy inadvertently knocked the ball behind for a corner following a challenge with McManaman. From that kick, Watson was left totally unmarked on the corner of the six-yard box and he connected to nod it straight past Joe Hart. With only two minutes of the game to play, it was enough to win the game for Wigan.

In truth, City never turned up and Wigan fully deserved to lift the cup.

Manchester City 2 West Ham United 1

FA Premier League
Saturday 27 April 2013, 12.45 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Lescott, Clichy, Barry, Y Toure, Silva (Milner 78), Nasri (K Toure 88), Tevez (Garcia 84), Aguero
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Nastasic, Dzeko
Goals: Aguero (28), Y Toure (83)
Booked: Zabaleta

Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez

West Ham1Despite enjoying the early possession, City found it difficult to break through the two banks of four that had been set up by the West Ham defence. With eight minutes on the clock, Tevez had an effort from the edge of the box, but he probably didn’t catch it as well as he’d hoped and it dropped nicely for Jaaskelainen to collect. It was a stuttered start to the game and West Ham were defiant and stout in their defending.

With almost 20 minutes played, a corner from the left was cleared as far as Barry on the edge of the box. He brought it down on his chest, but was fouled before he could get a shot away. Advantage was played as it bounced to Silva, who smashed a left-footed effort through the crowded penalty area. It didn’t take a touch off anybody and finished just wide of the far post.

Tevez was next to miss an effort from the edge of the box, as some neat play from Nasri worked the ball through to the Argentine. He couldn’t get over the shot, though, and it dropped into the fans behind the goal. A minute later, his compatriot Aguero received a stroke of luck as a return ball from Silva towards Tevez was deflected to him unmarked in the box. He scuffed the effort, though, and it smacked into the post.

Just before the half hour, the goal that had been threatened finally arrived. One-touch build-up play from Toure, Silva and Nasri left the Frenchman free on the by-line to cross low into the box. Aguero had pulled off his man and received the pass, shooting through Jaaskelainen and into the back of the net. The blues were deservedly in front.

From the very next attack, it should have been two: Jaaskelainen spilled a Nasri shot from the edge of the box and Zabaleta was following up unmarked. It was a difficult effort on his left foot, but, as he prodded it towards goal, Jaaskelainen managed to nudge the ball behind for a corner.

The visitors came into the game more in the second half. They started the brighter, without really testing Hart, but still putting the home side under pressure. It was City who came up with the first real chance after the break, as Nasri scooped a wonderful lob to Tevez, but the striker’s volley was blocked as he tried to score against his old club.

Carroll couldn’t get a header from a deep cross on target, as he started to get into the game, before Tevez missed a brilliant chance to double City’s lead, as he tried to mimic Aguero’s opener and drop off his marker, but Jaaskelainen managed to block the shot. Nasri then conspired to miss a Tevez cross with an open goal in front of him, before Aguero was somehow foiled by Jaaskelainen after the goalkeeper had spilled the initial shot.

Seconds after West Ham let City off the hook – as a free ball in the penalty area was poked wide by Collins – the blues doubled their advantage in style. Yaya Toure picked the ball up on the right corner of the visitors’ area and cut inside onto his left foot. With a yard of space, he curled a shot right into the top far corner, leaving Jaaskelainen with no chance of keeping it out.

As the game entered stoppage time, there was a worry for City as Hart went down injured and the home side had used all three substitutes. Seemingly struggling, he carried on and managed to pull off another great save to keep Carroll out as he headed towards the bottom corner. However, with virtually the last kick of the game, the big striker smashed a shot straight at the City keeper, who missed his catch and it dropped through his legs into the net.

No doubt the back problem will have played a part, but nevertheless Hart will be disappointed in not claiming another clean sheet this season, especially that late in the game.

Manchester City 1 Wigan Athletic 0

FA Premier League
Wednesday 17 April 2013, 19.45 KO

City: Hart, Richards (Sinclair 83), Kompany (c), Lescott, Kolarov, Garcia (Milner 59), Y Toure, Barry, Nasri, Aguero (Dzeko 45), Tevez
Unused: Pantilimon, K Toure, Clichy, Rodwell
Goals: Tevez (83)
Booked: Richards, Tevez

Referee: Jonathan Moss
Man of the Match: Samir Nasri

Wigan1It was a slow start to the match, with Wigan unable to make the most of a couple of half chances to fall their way, as the City defence blocked. Kolarov went close with a free kick, but it was wide of Joel’s post. City were beginning to take charge of possession, but they were able to create very little of note in terms of chance. Meanwhile, Wigan were looking dangerous on the break.

With 20 minutes played, Aguero received the ball and turned into the Wigan box. He did well to jink in and out of two of the visitors’ defenders, but his final effort was wide of the far post. He tried to curl it in, but it never swung back towards goal, as Tevez waited in the middle for the cut back that never came.

On 38 minutes, the visitors should have been in front. Kone missed a great opportunity to get a shot on target as he peeled free in the box following a quick free kick, before Hart was needed to produce one of the best saves he’s made this season, blocking from Di Santo as he skipped two challenges to get one-on-one in the box. Hart, though, was off his line quickly to block the shot, leaving Kolarov to clear.

Five minutes into the second half and it was still the visitors who were on top. Maloney beat Hart with a shot, but Lescott had dropped onto the line behind his goalkeeper to block it and get the ball away from danger. The Wigan pressure was clear affecting City, as Yaya Toure was caught in possession and Hart put a clearance straight out of play.

City switched back to 4-4-2, having gone to a back three at half time, and it had an effect in getting the blues on top of the game. Dzeko soon enough found himself onside and in behind the Wigan defence, but his spin and shot was well blocked by the foot of Joel.

As it looked like it would be a frustrating evening for City’s fans, a moment of inspiration caused the break-through. Tevez’s cute dragback on the edge of the box allowed him time to burst into the area. He curled his shot into the top corner by the near post and Joel was left flapping at thin air. City didn’t deserve the lead, but they had it.

City finished the stronger, looking for the goal that would seal the game: Kolarov won back possession and smashed a low cross through the box, but Sinclair couldn’t quite stretch to meet it, before a Tevez free kick curled just wide of the post.

It wasn’t a classic, but it was three more points on the board for the blues.

Manchester City 4 Newcastle United 0

FA Premier League
Saturday 30 March 2013, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c) (Garcia 73), Lescott, Clichy, Barry, Y Toure, Nasri (Aguero 71), Silva (Sinclair 83), Dzeko, Tevez
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, K Toure, Milner
Goals: Tevez (40), Silva (45+1), Kompany (56), Y Toure (68)
Booked: -

Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Man of the Match: Samir Nasri

Newcastle1It was a rather slow start to the game, but it was the hosts in control of possession. Despite this, it was Newcastle who had the first opportunity to open the scoring, but Joe Hart was off his line quickly to clear the ball away from Cisse, as the forward looked to latch onto a route one pass. It was Cisse with the next opportunity, too – dropping off Clichy to volley at the back, but he struck the post.

It seemed to wake the home side up. Somehow, the ball didn’t hit the back of the Newcastle net when it was squared from the right and Dzeko’s shot was saved by Elliot. It bounced out to Barry, who had an open goal in front of him, and the England midfielder skied his effort, when it seemed a lot easier to score.

Free kicks from Silva and Tevez went close, both leaving Elliot rooted to the spot, but both missing the target. Clichy then took a volley on and it needed two hands from the Newcastle goalkeeper to get it away from danger, before Silva was flagged offside as he planted the ball into the net. City were getting closer.

Five minutes before half time, the hosts got their breakthrough. Clichy slid a brilliant low ball into the box and neither defenders nor goalkeeper could cut it out, leaving Tevez to knock it into the empty net, sliding in at the back post.

On the stroke of half time, City added their second and made it a tough second half for the visitors. Nasri did brilliantly to wriggle through two challenges in the box and he poked the ball on to Silva on the left side of the area. He wellied the effort through the goalkeeper’s outstretched hands and into the bottom corner.

Early in the second half, you’d have been forgiven for thinking it was the visitors who were leading by two goals – first Cabaye fired a volley close to Hart’s goal, but just missed as the City keeper was rooted to the spot. There followed more pressure from the away side that the blues coped with in the best way possible: Kompany expertly flicked Barry’s effort on goal past the goalkeeper and into the net.

Elliot was in the right place at the right time to tip over from Dzeko as the Bosnian let rip from just inside the box, before Yaya Toure added City’s fourth of the afternoon. He powered a shot from close range towards the back post and it took a nick on the way through, deceiving Elliot, who could only get a hand on it as it dropped into the net.

There was a brief scare from the visitors, but Hart was able to hold on to Gosling’s side-footed effort from inside the area. It was a comfortable victory for City and, with Chelsea losing, they had edged away from the London club.

Manchester City 5 Barnsley 0

FA Cup Quarter Final
Saturday 9 March 2013, 17.30 KO

City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta (c), K Toure, Lescott, Kolarov, Y Toure, Barry, Silva (Razak 67), Tevez (Milner 77), Nasri (Sinclair 53), Dzeko
Unused: Hart, Clichy, Nastasic, Garcia
Goals: Tevez (11, 31, 50), Kolarov (27), Silva (65)
Booked: Y Toure

Referee: Anthony Taylor
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez

Barnsley1It was the home side who got off to the better start, but it was the visitors with the first half-chance, as Harewood stole the ball from Kolarov and crossed towards Etuhu in the middle – though Kolo Toure was there to remove the danger. Dzeko headed City’s first chance of the game over the bar as he couldn’t quite stretch enough to reach Nasri’s high ball into the box with just nine minutes played.

Two minutes later, though, and the five times FA Cup winners were in front: Good work from Dzeko on the left flank found Yaya Toure on the edge of the box. With the crowd baying for him to shoot, he chipped it into the path of Silva, whose shot was brilliantly touched onto the post by Steele. The goalkeeper, though, could only watch as Tevez tucked the rebound into the empty net.

The game went a bit flat for the next few minutes, as City kept possession well and Barnsley struggled to get out of their own half. With 27 minutes on the clock, the blues extended their lead, as Kolarov arrived late at the back post to slide Tevez’s square ball into the net, after Dzeko had won it back inside the visitors’ half.

It only took three minutes for City to add another. Some brilliant possession football dragged Barnsley’s back line all over the place and, with a loose ball in the box falling to Tevez, the Argentine swivelled and shot, knocking it into the back of the net. With just over half an hour played, it looked the like the tie was over and City would be in the hat for the semi finals.

Tevez and Dzeko both tried to extend the blues’ lead further in the remaining minutes of the first half, but both the Argentine and the Bosnian’s efforts were well turned away by Steele. It had already become a training game as Tevez once again was inches from adding a fourth goal for City, trying a neat flick to turn in a low Nasri cross from the left.

The first action of the second half saw Tevez clinch yet another hat-trick in a Manchester City shirt. For his third goal of the game, he dropped to the penalty spot as Nasri delivered a low ball into the box and, with a bit of a scuff off his heel, re-directed the cross into the bottom corner, leaving Steele with no chance. City were cruising.

With 56 minutes played, Pantilimon’s clean sheet came under threat for the first time. A dipping volley from the edge of the box from Mellis needed two palms from the Romanian to get it away from danger, before Tunnicliffe found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, only to see Pantilimon block his strike with his left boot.

Just after the hour mark, though, City added another goal to their tally. Silva was late arriving into the box to connect with Zabaleta’s cross, but it was straight at the goalkeeper. Steele, though, was all out of luck, as the rebound bounced into the Spaniard and left him with a simple task of a gentle touch into the back of the open goal. That was the twelfth goal City had scored against Barnsley in two games at The Etihad Stadium.

The game slowed to an almost-walking pace as the hosts killed off the tie. Milner went very close to adding a sixth goal as he cut inside onto his left foot, but his powerful drive smacked off the inside of the post and bounced away to safety, with Steele left standing. Lescott went close from a corner, but he couldn’t keep his header down at the back post.

City were through to the FA Cup semi finals and are yet to concede in this season’s competition.

Aston Villa 0 Manchester City 1

FA Premier League
Monday 4 March 2013, 20.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta (c), K Toure, Nastasic, Clichy, Garcia, Milner, Rodwell (Dzeko 25), Silva (Barry 90), Y Toure, Tevez (Nasri 75)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Kolarov, Sinclair
Goals: Tevez (45+1)
Booked: -

Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the Match: Pablo Zabaleta

Villa1It was a nervy start from the visitors, who had several high balls into the box to deal with and City just about did what they needed to. Hart came to punch a sliced Garcia clearance, but skewed the ball upwards, before Kolo Toure volleyed away after Benteke couldn’t get to a cross first. Weimann was then inches from connecting to a low ball into the box, but he couldn’t and Hart was happy to see it wide.

With 20 minutes played, it had been all Villa and City had Tevez to thank that the scores were still level. Benteke got up above the defence to head at goal from a corner and it was destined for the bottom corner until the striker volleyed it off the line. At the other end, Rodwell had the visitors’ first shot on target, forcing Guzan to tip over at the near post. The bad news for City was that, in shooting, the midfielder suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury.

A free kick on the edge of the box for City went straight through the Villa wall from Milner, but Guzan got across to hold the midfielder’s shot. It was still an isolated effort for the away side, who had struggled to settle into the game. Clichy had nodded down for Dzeko, but he couldn’t find Tevez, before Tevez tried to slot Yaya Toure through, but the pass was intercepted.

From City’s first good move of the game, the visitors were a lick of paint from taking the lead. Silva and Yaya Toure combined to slot Zabaleta through into the box and the Argentine’s curled shot towards the far corner was brilliantly touched onto the inside of the post by Guzan. The Villa keeper was in action again a moment later to deny Tevez from the edge of the box. City had woken up.

As the board went up for stoppage time, Clark was put under pressure by Dzeko, who stole the ball and found himself through on goal. As the defence came back to cover, he squared for Tevez to take it around Guzan and roll it into the corner, past the covering defender on the line. City were in front in first half stoppage time.

It was end-to-end for the first few minutes of the second half, as Villa looked to slide Weimann through in the box, but Benteke’s ball wasn’t good enough. Guzan was then worried by a deflected Dzeko effort, after Silva had played Tevez through and Zabaleta had had his shot blocked. From the resulting corner, Nastasic tried an ambitious overhead kick and it ended up in the fans behind the goal.

Villa2On 55 minutes, Dzeko stole the ball from the Villa back line for the second time in the match and, once again, he played Tevez in. The Argentine carried the ball across the box and shot for the near post – Guzan was beaten, but there was a covering defender behind him to clear the danger. Tevez should have squared to Silva, who was in acres of space.

Five minutes later, some good defending from Kolo Toure kept the visitors’ lead intact. He tracked the run of Agbonlahor and got the final touch on the striker’s header from inside the six-yard box to deflect it over the bar. Dzeko defended the corner and Hart came to clear up the remaining danger. At the other end, a Milner free kick bounced to Yaya Toure and he was brought down on the edge of the box: Tevez’s shot hit the wall.

Lowton nearly responded for Villa with 25 minutes to play as he smashed a shot from very long range. It curled away from Hart’s far post and, despite the goalkeeper appearing worried by the effort, it finished wide of the goal. Shortly after, City had the ball in the net again, but it was ruled out by an offside flag. Yaya Toure hit the inside of the post with a low drive on his left foot and the rebound fell to Dzeko, but he was rightly flagged.

With a couple of minutes to play, Villa cranked up the pressure on the City goal. Benteke could have won a penalty when Nastasic didn’t win the ball, before some good defending from Zabaleta, Kolo and Yaya Toure forced the ball clear. Benteke almost picked out a Villa shirt when he nodded back across goal, but Nastasic got a boot in to clear.

Like the start, it was a nervy finish, but, equally, it was a hard-fought City win.

Manchester City 2 Chelsea 0

FA Premier League
Sunday 24 February 2013, 13.30 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta (c), K Toure, Nastasic, Clichy, Garcia, Milner, Rodwell (Tevez 54), Silva (Lescott 90), Y Toure, Aguero (Nasri 90)
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Sinclair, Dzeko
Goals: Y Toure (63), Tevez (86)
Booked: Rodwell, K Toure, Zabaleta

Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the Match: Kolo Toure

Chelsea1It was a cagey affair to begin with as both sides felt the other out. City, looking to secure second place and close the gap on United, and Chelsea, looking to catch the hosts, were both having large spells of possession, with little end product. Yaya Toure tried a shot straight at Cech, before a Nastasic free header from a corner forced the visitors’ keeper into a good save.

With just over 15 minutes played, City began to step up the tempo and the game was being played in the Chelsea half. Aguero tried to take the ball around Cech, but his touch was too heavy and it bounced behind for a goal kick. It was then Rodwell’s turn to head at goal, but his effort was over the bar, following a Lampard free kick that was well wide of Hart’s goal.

Eight minutes before the break, it was almost the hosts who took the lead. Aguero wriggled free on the left flank and was able to get a good ball back across to the back post where Zabaleta was arriving. He volleyed at goal, but his effort met the head of Cahill, who stopped the goal-bound shot from finding the net.

Rodwell tried his luck from 30 yards and found Cech again in good form to tip his long-range drive over the bar. From the resulting corner, the midfielder managed to win the header, but it was straight at the Chelsea goalkeeper and he was able to hold it. The home side were knocking, but the visitors’ door was remaining firmly shut.

It was normal service resumed in the opening stages of the second half, as it began with City on the attack. Milner’s ball into the middle was just missed by Rodwell and it fell to Aguero to try an ambitious overhead kick, but the acrobatic attempt landed well wide of the target.

Chelsea2But, with just five minutes of the half gone, City were facing a penalty. Ba had got in behind Kolo Toure and, as he faced Hart with a one-on-one, he went down under pressure from the City keeper. The referee pointed to the spot, despite there being minimal contact on the striker from the England international. It didn’t matter, though, as Hart was back up to save the spot kick low to his left, before Kolo Toure scrambled the rebound clear.

It was all livening up on the pitch, as Milner sent Aguero through for a one-on-one with Cech, but the Argentine’s cheeky chip landed onto the roof of the net. Two minutes later, the visitors had a three-on-one breakaway, but Kolo Toure did brilliantly to cut out the first cross and then make a great challenge to get the loose ball away.

Just after the hour mark, the home side went ahead. Silva and Milner found Yaya Toure inside the penalty area and, as he cut back inside onto his right foot, he curled the ball towards the bottom corner. It found the net, past the despairing dive of Cech, and via a little nick of a deflection on the way through.

It was Chelsea’s turn to press and try to find a response. Despite having a large amount of possession, though, they failed to test Hart with anything more than a potshot from Mata from the left edge of the box. Clichy did well to chest a loose ball back to the hands of Hart, and Nastasic and Kolo Toure were in the thick of the action to get their headers clear.

The decisive move, though, came five minutes from the end. Rafa Benitez went for broke and took off Mikel in favour of Torres. The change allowed City to control the ball inside the Chelsea half much more than in the previous ten minutes and, following a brilliant tackle from Garcia, Silva found Tevez on the edge of the box. The Argentine wellied it into the top corner.

It secured City’s win and left the blues seven points ahead of their opponents.