Barclay’s English Premiership
Monday 20 October, 2008, 20:00 KO
City: Hart, Richards (Onuoha 58), Ben-Haim, Dunne (c), Garrido (Sturridge 83), Kompany, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Hamann (Evans 64), Robinho, Jo
Unused: Schmeichel, Elano, Gelson, Berti
Goals: Robinho (pen 14), Ireland (86)
Booked: Garrido, Kompany
City Man of the Match: Stephen Ireland
City fired themselves out of the starting blocks and looked to be swarming all over their hosts early on, looking to grab a quick goal. Richards burst down the right wing and won the game’s first corner, but it amounted to nothing as it was cleared after a bit of a scramble.
With just ten minutes of the game gone, Tal Ben-Haim brought down Martins on the edge of the area, despite the Toon forward looking to be already on his way down when contact was made. Geremi’s free kick was only just over Joe Hart’s crossbar.
Two minutes later, some lovely interplay by City’s midfield sent an over the top pass to Robinho, who, after a touch to control, was clean through, until the tackle of Beye. Replays seemed to show that Beye got a touch of the ball, but it wasn’t enough to convince referee Rob Style it wasn’t a penalty and the Newcastle man received his marching orders.
Enter Robinho, who sent goalkeeper Given the wrong way and put City 0-1 up.
Just after the half hour, Styles awarded a debatable free kick to the home side on the right wing and, from the resulting cross, Joe Hart missed his punch, instead making contact with his captain, who also managed to clear the ball.
With Dunne receiving treatment, Damien Duff should have taken advantage, but his weak, left footed shot was easily gobbled up by Hart. It was Newcastle’s first shot on target and they seemed to be getting more comfortable playing with ten men.
City continued to cause problems for the home side, with constant pressure and corners, but they were unable to make it 0-2, despite Jo’s best efforts to make contact with a deflected Ireland shot.
Seconds before half time, Newcastle managed to claw themselves level, after a large slice of good fortune. A Richard Dunne clearance smashed straight into the back of Didi Hamann, and Tal Ben-Haim was unable to react quick enough to clear. The ball was deflected over Dunne’s head into the path of the onrushing Ameobi, whose shot was miss-hit, but it sliced past the helpless Joe Hart.
The second half began with Newcastle threatening to step it up a gear, but the home side never truly threatened City’s goal. Micah Richards was forced off through injury just before the hour mark, and academy graduate Nedum Onuoha took his place.
Vincent Kompany looked to restore City’s lead on 61 minutes, but his thunderbolt effort from long range was straight down Shay Given’s throat and the ROI international was able to save comfortably.
Newcastle had their second slice of good fortune on 64 minutes, when Geremi’s right wing corner was missed by the first challenge smashing into Richard Dunne. The skipper reacted as quickly as he could, but it wasn’t enough to stop the ball flying off his boot and into Joe Hart’s top left hand corner.
Ameobi could have made it worse on 74 minutes, but the Newcastle forward was unable to convert Damien Duff’s cross.
City began to step it up a gear, like they should have done after taking the lead, and Robinho fired over before Stephen Ireland’s magnificent volley from the edge of the area produced a fine save from Given.
But with just four minutes left to play, Stephen Ireland earned City a point, after Kompany had found Robinho, who slid in the Irishman to poke it past Given. Ireland has been something of a revelation for City this season and not one blues fan could begrudge him his goals.
The Irishman nearly took all three points for City, when his flicked cross-cum-shot spun just wide of Given’s despairing dive, but it also spun just wide of the goalkeeper’s right post.