Brighton 2 Manchester City 2 (5-3 on pens)

Carling Cup Round 2
Wednesday 24 September, 2008, 19:45 KO

City: Schmeichel, Zabaleta, Ben-Haim, Dunne (c), Ball, Kompany, Ireland, Johnson (Elano 102), Gelson, Sturridge (Evans 61), Jo (Caicedo 91)
Unused: Hart, Garrido, Logan, Hamann
Goals: Gelson (64), Ireland (109)
City Man of the Match: Stephen Ireland

Brighton started the game the better team, but it was City who had the opening chances in the match with Vincent Kompany firing wide and Daniel Sturridge hitting a drive straight at the goalkeeper.

After 20 minutes, Kasper Schmeichel was beaten, but fortunately for City, so was the goal, as Thomson’s shot bounced off the post, after he had shot from the right side of City’s box.

City hit back immediately, and the home side had their goalkeeper to thank, as he blocked Stephen Ireland’s shot after some tidy build-up from the away side.

A last gasp clearance from Michael Ball stopped Brighton’s Thomson again and it seemed to wake City up, as they piled on the pressure towards the end of the first half.

Brighton’s goalkeeper dived low to stop a Jo effort and, within a minute, he was right behind a Daniel Sturridge effort, as City knocked, but Brighton’s door was holding firm. A flowing City move forced another save from keeper Kuiper, as it was Michael Johnson’s turn to be frustrated.

After the break, City started where they left off, but still couldn’t find the net. Gelson sent a diving header wide, after a delightful Daniel Sturridge flick and the home side had their keeper to thank once more, as Jo’s effort from the left side of the box was expertly tipped wide.

Then, just after the hour, City took the lead. And it had been coming. Brighton gave the ball away cheaply in their own half and Jo lobbed the ball over to Gelson Fernandes, who slotted home from eight yards.

City continued to press, and Ched Evans, on as a substitute, forced yet another good save from the Brighton shot-stopped and Gelson nearly killed the game off with a cheeky backheel, with under 10 minutes to go.

With 84 minutes on the clock, Schmeichel kept City in the driving seat, diving at the feet of Glenn Murray to block and then getting to the rebound before anyone else.

But, just as City’s minds were perhaps straying to a home tie with Derby, Brighton pulled level, after a rebound from a Schmeichel save was bundled in by Glenn Murray, on 89 minutes.

Five minutes into extra time, the home side were riding high and they took the lead, as Cox crossed from the left and found the head of on-load forward Joe Ayinsah was able to finish, much to the shock of the City faithful.

A superb challenge on 100 minutes from skipper Richard Dunne saved City’s blushes further, as Ayinsah looked to make it three. Ben-Haim then took some credit as he stopped the Preston player in stoppage time at the end of the first half of extra time.

Then, on 109 minutes, the home side’s defence looked tired and were caught in two minds over a Schmeichel clearance. The ball found its way to Stephen Ireland, who pulled the away side back level, when the home side had their tails up.

City pressed for most of the second half of extra time, but they couldn’t find a breakthrough, with both Dunne and Evans going close from corners. But neither of them were able to hit the net and it meant the match went to penalties.

David Livermore scored: 1-0
Ched Evans scored: 1-1
Tommy Elphick scored: 2-1
Elano scored: 2-2
Glenn Murray scored: 3-2
Vincent Kompany scored: 3-3
Adam Virgo scored: 4-3
Michael Ball missed: 4-3
Matt Richards scored: 5-3

So, City add another team to the list of lower league teams that have knocked them out of the League Cup early in the competition. It was a game City had had enough chances to win twice over, but they failed to kill Brighton off when they had the chance, have have payed the ultimate price.

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