UEFA Cup Group Stage
Thursday 27 November 2008, 18:00 KO
City: Hart, Richards, Dunne (c), Kompany, Garrido (Ball 45), Ireland, Hamann, Wright-Phillips, Vassell, Sturridge, Benjani (Jo 84)
Unused: Schmeichel, Ben-Haim, Logan, Berti, Evans
Goals: Benjani (32), Ireland (66)
Booked: Richards, Ireland, Benjani
City Man of the Match: Stephen Ireland
City played in their third kit, for their second group game in the UEFA Cup this season and it was the away side who fashioned the first chance. Five minutes in, Daniel Sturridge produced a nice cross after a series of step-overs, but it was just in front of Benjani.
Kevin Kuranyi, the former German international, was causing City’s defence problems, after he cut inside Javier Garrido and slid the ball across the box. But, fortunately for the away side, the ball fell to Hamann, who cleared.
Joe Hart pulled off a great save shortly after, to keep the scores level. Jermaine Jones harried the ball off Garrido and Joe Hart got down well to fingertip the Schalke forward’s shot around the post.
Jones then tested Hart from range, on 20 minutes, before the City back four crowded out Rakitic and Richard Dunne produced a lovely block to prevent the shot reaching Hart’s goal.
But City were able to soak up the home side’s pressure well and, on 32 minutes, they took the lead. Vincent Kompany, playing at centre-back, produced a well timed tackle and came away with the ball, striding into the midfield. Sturridge timed his run to perfection and Kompany found him with a lovely through ball. Sturridge worked his way to the box and, following some step-overs, fired a shot-cum-cross low and hard. It was missed by everyone and Benjani popped up at the back post to fire the ball into the net.
Ireland then thought he had grabbed City’s second on 39 minutes, but his tap in from a Sturridge shot was correctly ruled offside.
Half time came and City had worked hard for their lead. Michael Ball replaced Javier Garrido, who appeared to have taken a knock in the first half.
The second half began much in the same way as the first, with Schalke dominating possession, but doing nothing to worry the City defence. City pressed the man on the ball and forced Schalke into mistakes, not allowing them to trouble Hart.
The away side broke on 55 minutes, and, after some excellent hold up play from the youngster Sturridge, Shaun Wright-Phillips unleashed a thunderous drive from 25 yards that Neuer did well to push over.
The home fans were even more upset with their team’s performance just after the hour, when City doubled their lead. Stephen Ireland set Benjani free on the left and the Zimbabwean’s shot was deflected straight up into the air. Out came the keeper, but he didn’t deal with it and Stephen Ireland was able to slide the ball under him to get the goal his performance deserved.
Schalke could have pulled a goal back with 15 minutes to play, when a free kick was whipped in and Asamoah headed the ball towards goal. But Joe Hart made himself big and deflected the ball wide for a corner.
City finished the game by winding the clock down with some possession football and holding the ball by the corner flag, to make it six points from two games in the group stages of this season’s UEFA Cup.