Barclay’s English Premiership
Sunday 16 November 2008, 16:00 KO
City: Hart (Schmeichel 18), Zabaleta, Ben-Haim, Richards, Garrido, Kompany, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Vassell, Robinho (c), Benjani (Jo 75)
Unused: Ball, Onuoha, Elano, Hamann, Evans
Goals: Ireland (38, 44)
Booked: Ben-Haim, Ireland, Wright-Phillips
City Man of the Match: Stephen Ireland
Both teams had had a poor run of results in the league and both must have been looking at this game as one they could win. Hull’s early season form has surprised everybody and City’s form hasn’t been right for a good few weeks.
The first chance fell to the away side, but Robinho’s effort from a 30-yard free kick was nothing more than speculative at best, and the tricky Brazilian fired well wide.
Hull responded immediately, with a bit of pressure on City’s goal. First, Hull’s skipper Ian Ashbee placed a shot wide of the post. Ben-Haim then got himself booked for a rash challenge to bring down Geovanni.
And the Israeli’s day got much worse, when, on 14 minutes, he received a square pass from Micah Richards and it should have been a comfortable knock back to his centre-back partner or Joe Hart. But, the centre-back did neither, presenting a pass to Joe Hart that was much too short, allowing Daniel Cousin in to slot home to give the home side the lead.
The news got worse for City, though. Joe Hart was injured in challenging Cousin and could only last another minute before needing to come off. He’ll be out for a month and will unfortunately miss England’s midweek game with Germany.
The home side then settled and began to dominate the game, but without forcing any chances. City still looked dangerous on the break, but seemed to find themselves on the back foot for large spells.
Then, on 38 minutes, City were gifted their equaliser. Kamil Zayatte stepped in as the ball was over-run by Benjani and, with Myhill looking to collect, strangely rolled the ball across his own goal for Stephen Ireland to slot into the empty net.
City then began to take the initiative and Robinho’s appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears, when his shot struck an arm in the area. It would, in fairness, have been a soft penalty, after the Brazilian had weaved into the area.
Then, with a minute of the first half remaining, City took the lead. Garrido burst down the left wing and, when the Hull defence expected a cross, he squared it low to the on-coming Ireland. He took a touch before placing it superbly around Myhill, with the City fans singing “Ireland is Superman”.
Half time came too soon for City, who had the momentum to carry on and possibly score more. But after the break, Hull began to ease their way back into the game with a Geovanni scissor kick going just over and a Marlon King header being well saved by Schmeichel.
On the hour mark, City old boy Geovanni levelled the score. Hull were awarded a free kick for what appeared to be nothing and the Brazilian stepped up to take a shot. His curler deflected off Kompany, wrong footing Schmeichel and sending the ball into the net.
Cousin had a diving header well saved by Schmeichel, before Robinho took a touch too many before firing a shot into the defender.
On 68 minutes, Robinho and Benjani combined to set up Vassell, but the former England international took an air shot and by the time he had collected the ball for a second attempt, the Hull defence were back in numbers.
Ben-Haim then went on a run from defence, beating two Hull midfielders, but tried to take on one-player too many and was dispossessed on the edge of the opposition’s penalty area.
With 10 minutes to go, referee Phil Dowd allowed the game to descend into farce. Geovanni attempted to take a free kick, but it was blocked by Shaun Wright-Phillips, who it was decided wasn’t 10 yards back. He earned a yellow card and the free kick was retaken.
Stephen Ireland got himself a yellow card for making a block on the second attempt to take the kick, again for not being 10 yards back. Then, on the third attempt, Vassell blocked for a corner, and probably also should have been booked, given that he was just nine and a half yards away from the ball.
Darius Vassell could and should have won the game for City, after a bouncing ball fell to his feet in the box, but he couldn’t direct the ball past Myhill, who made himself big.
City had two quick corners in stoppage time and the best of the chances fell to Micah Richards, who shouldered the ball wide seconds before the final whistle. City will be happy with a point, will feel they could and possibly should have had all three, but it was a game that probably didn’t deserve to have a loser.