UEFA Cup Qual. R1, First Leg
Thursday 17 July, 2008, 19:00 KO
City: Hart, Onuoha, Dunne, Richards, Ball, Ireland, Hamann (Gelson 74), Johnson, Petrov, Vassell, Jo (Evans 74).
Unused: Schmeichel, Corluka, Elano, Benjani, Castillo
Goals: Petrov (9), Hamann (28)
City Man of the Match: Martin Petrov
City began the 2008/09 season with the first leg of the UEFA Cup First Qualifying Round, away to EB Streymur of the Faroe Islands. It was new manager Mark Hughes’s first competitive game in charge and, despite many blues looking for a heavy scoreline, it was a game in which City were in complete control.
City fans had pulled out all the stops to get to the game, including a group who began Wednesday trapped in the Shetland Islands, due to rough seas (but with a quick news appeal and a private plane, they arrived on time!). It wasn’t perhaps a classic performance that they witnessed, as the game had an air of a pre-season friendly, but City were effective and did the job they came to do.
There was an early scare when a mix up in City’s half allowed Streymur to get the first shot of the game, but it was a weak effort from distance and turned out to be their only attempt on goal in the half.
City began to take the initiative and started to control possession and, with just under 10 minutes gone, a bit of neat football around the edge of the home side’s box allowed Vassell to pass the ball square and Petrov to drive the opener into the net, after a Michael Johnson stepover.
Former England international, Darius Vassell should have extended the lead a few minutes later, as the Streymur defence failed to execute the offside trap and the City man found himself through on goal. His left footed drive, however, was well saved by Torgard.
With Petrov in all kinds of space and plenty of time on the ball for the City midfield, the Premiership side kept possession well and moved the ball around neatly. Then, just before the half-hour, a Petrov corner was cleared only as far as Dietmar Hamann, who let fly with the outside of his right foot. It was his first goal for the club and one worth waiting for, too.
City’s record signing, the Brazilian Jo, showed some deft touches and was unlucky not to get himself a goal from a defensive error. A lovely interception from Johnson (maybe Ireland, I can’t quite remember!) fell to the newboy’s feet, but he fired over, after cutting inside.
In the second half, Streymur began to get themselves back into the game, but they offered little to no threat to Joe Hart’s goal, who spent much of the first half a spectator. The home side’s best chance of pulling a goal back came from set pieces, but the City defence held firm.