Barclay’s English Premiership
Sunday 21 December 2008, 13:30 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Dunne (c), Richards, Ball, Kompany, Gelson, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Vassell, Benjani (Caicedo 57)
Unused: Schmeichel, Onuoha, Garrido, Hamann, Clayton, Evans
Goals: Caicedo (86)
City Man of the Match: Stephen Ireland
City found themselves in the bottom three before the start of today’s match, after results had gone against them on the Saturday. A win could lift City up to 12th in the league, and a draw would see them climb to 15th.
And they began the game the brighter, after Vassell broke down the left and forced a corner, within a minute. But Ireland fired the rebound over, after West Brom had initially cleared with a header.
City should have been in front after just seven minutes, when Ireland’s shot was fired straight at Carson, after Benjani had had the chance to get a shot away after beating two defenders, but he was adjudged to have fouled Robinson.
Wright-Phillips had a shot deflected over after a lay off from Vassell. Benjani had won the ball wide left and he knocked it to Vassell who ran at the West Brom defence. Wright-Phillips joined the attack and hit a first time shot that may well have beaten Carson, if not for the deflection over the bar.
James Morrison had the home side’s first real chance on 21 minutes, as his shot from the near post was blocked wide by Kompany, after Richard Dunne had blocked the initial effort.
The Belgian international then had a good chance to give the away side the lead, as he brought the ball out of defence and smashed a shot with his right foot, but it was straight at Carson and the Baggies’ keeper was able to hold the shot.
The home side then hit the post on 31 minutes, after Bednar turned Gelson and fired a snap shot towards Hart. The City keeper threw his body at it, but couldn’t get a touch and, to his relief, the ball rebounded off the inside of the post and out for Zabaleta to clear.
Gelson should have scored with half time approaching, as Wright-Phillips found him from the right flank after some good work, but the Swiss international’s shot, while full of venom, was straight at Carson and the keeper held on.
And in stoppage time, City squandered another chance to take the lead, after Michael Ball whipped in a free kick from the right and Benjani and Richards got in each other’s way, before Richards blazed over from six yards.
Tony Mowbray wouldn’t have been too disappointed with 0-0 at half time. His side had the best chance of the half, but it was City who had looked the more likely to take the lead.
Eight minutes into the second half and City wasted another chance by firing straight at Scott Carson once more. A superb pass from Gelson sliced the West Brom defence open and Zabaleta’s knock-back found Wright-Phillips on the penalty spot, but his first time effort flew into Carson’s hands.
With just over twenty minutes to go City were hit on the break. A corner came to nothing and Richard Dunne and Pablo Zabaleta found themselves three on two at the back. Morrison drew Zabaleta, knocked a through ball for Moore and he slid the ball past Joe Hart, arguably against the run of play.
Darius Vassell wasn’t given a free kick on the edge of the area for a clear foul, and he needed treatment for the tackle. A minute later, West Brom had the ball in the net again, but it was ruled out for a foul on Hart, as he came to collect the ball.
Felipe Caicedo then grabbed his first Premier League goal, after a great piece of skill. Michael Ball threw the ball into the box and it found its way to the Ecuadorian, with his back to goal. He lifted his leg and back-heeled it into the net, off the post, from eight yards.
West Brom then fired a warning shot across City’s bows, as James Morrison curled a shot around Richards, but also just around the post.
Stephen Ireland nearly won the game for City, after he knocked the ball to Vassell, he broke into the box, but the return pass was just too far in front of him, and the home side’s defence cleared.
But with just one minute of stoppage time remaining, West Brom stole the points, as, from a cross from deep, Roman Bednar got himself inbetween Richards and Zabaleta, Joe Hart came for the ball, but stopped, and the Albion man headed into the top corner.
City had the players to have won the game twice over, they had the chances to have won the game twice over and they would have expected to win the game comfortably. But the team’s inability to finish chances must be worrying Mark Hughes, as the problem looks to become a crisis. City remain in the bottom three for Christmas.