UEFA Cup Qual. R1, Second Leg
Thursday 31 July, 2008, 20:00 KO
City: Hart, Corluka, Dunne, Richards, Ball, Johnson, Fernandes (Hamann 61), Petrov (Etuhu 70), Elano, Vassell, Sturridge (Evans 70).
Unused: Schmeichel, Onuoha, Bianchi, Ireland
Goals: Petrov (48), Vassell (90)
City Man of the Match: Darius Vassell
An unexpected European campaign and an unfortunately scheduled Bon Jovi concert saw City make a relatively short trip to Barnsley FC’s Oakwell for their first home, competitive game of the season. In truth, the tie was over as a contest and it was virtually a formality that City would win tonight’s game. They did, in traditional City style, make it difficult, though.
Inside three minutes, Vassell slid in to connect with a Corluka low, driven cross, but managed to divert the ball into the Streymur keeper’s face. Then, minutes later, youngster Daniel Sturridge had a shot charged down by one of the part-timers’ numerous defenders.
This passage of play set the precedent for the match, as City created more and more chances, but managed to miss them, too. Streymur goalkeeper Torgard was in fine form to tip a Sturridge turn and shot over the bar, after the youngster unleashed a fierce effort from just outside the area.
Minutes later, Streymur had their first and, as it turned out, only attack of the game. Anghel cut inside Vedran Corluka and sidestepped past Micah Richards, before drilling his shot low into the side netting. It was the only real scare of the match for City and Joe Hart was a spectator for large periods of play.
As the half went on, City began to try and force the goal, but the ball just wouldn’t go in. Torgard made goods saves from Elano and Sturridge, while a left-footed Michael Johnson drive was deflected over for a corner, with the fans appealing for handball and the replays suggesting it might have been a penalty.
Dunne and Corluka got in on the act, both missing excellent chances from corners, with the Croat smashing his free header into the crossbar from six yards out.
Just before the interval, Petrov thought he had opened the scoring, but his controlled volley sliced through the box and smashed into Torgard’s left-hand post. From the rebound, City flicked the ball up to Sturridge’s head, but the England U19s man’s attempt was cleared off the line by Olsen.
Petrov finally broke the deadlock three minutes into the second half, after a move that saw nearly everybody in City’s side (save Joe Hart) touch the ball. Vassell wriggled through the Streymur defence and his cross was missed by goalkeeper Torgard, leaving Petrov to slam the ball into the unguarded net.
Despite conceding, it still looked as if it would be Torgard’s day, as he produced two more good saves, this time denying Sturridge’s fierce shot and Elano’s low, curling drive.
As the game looked to be petering out, Hughes sent on Evans and Etuhu (to replace Sturridge and Petrov, respectively) to try and improve the scoreline. Etuhu produced some fine runs down the right, but perhaps showed his inexperience with his passing and end product, while Evans looked lively, driving an effort into Torgard’s arms.
With 90 minutes on the clock, a long punt up the field was flicked on by Evans and picked up by Vassell. His blistering pace too much for the Streymur defence, the Englishman rounded the goalkeeper and slotted the ball home from a tight angle.
City progress to the first round proper of the UEFA Cup, with a 4-0 aggregate win, although the team (along with the fans) will no doubt be disappointed tonight’s scoreline wasn’t larger.