Barclay’s English Premiership
Saturday 15 August 2009, 15:00 KO
City: Given, Richards, Dunne (c), Toure, Bridge, Barry, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Robinho (Tevez 68), Bellamy, Adebayor
Unused: Taylor, Zabaleta, Onuoha, de Jong, Petrov, Weiss
Goals: Adebayor (3), Ireland (90+1)
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the Match: Craig Bellamy
With phase one – summer signings – of Operation Man City nearing completion, Mark Hughes began phase two with a local derby at Ewood Park. A ground City hadn’t fared too well on in recent years, so he was after a good start from his new-look Manchester City.
And that he got. Richard Dunne did well to clear off the line with his thigh, before City worked the ball to Wright-Phillips, midway into the Blackburn half. After carrying the ball towards the area, he slid the ball into Adebayor’s path, who slotted the ball past Robinson from the edge of the box.
But City then struggled to press their advantage home, conceding possession to Blackburn instead of making the easy pass. But Blackburn weren’t in the mood to play football, having possession in City’s half but not troubling Given.
Pedersen had a header on goal after nine minutes, but it was weak and an easy catch for the City keeper. McCarthy then slid a shot wide, before Roberts fired a good chance over the bar.
Samba then hit the floor in the City area and the Rovers fans wanted a penalty. But the referee, Mike Dean, wasn’t interested and City were able to clear the danger.
Pedersen then hit a free-kick over the bar from a long way out, minutes before Roberts curled one straight to Shay Given, with Diouf standing in an offside position to put him off.
A goalmouth scramble in the City area finished with Samba thinking he must have scored, but his effort from close range was superbly saved by Shay Given and gave City something of a wake-up call.
Just before the half hour, Ireland chipped the ball to Wright-Phillips in the Blackburn box, but the tricky little winger wasn’t able to turn and shoot as Robinson smothered the ball.
McCarthy then showed he might be better at rugby than football, clearing the Darwen end with a free-kick flying over Given’s bar, over the City fans and over the roof.
Ten minutes until the break and Robinson had to be alert. City broke well with Adebayor knocking the ball to Bridge, who found Robinho. The Brazilian then took the ball into the box and had a curling effort finger-tipped over by the England keeper.
A Craig Bellamy cross was then inches away from finding Adebayor in the area, before Blackburn screamed for a penalty for a handball by Dunne. It hit his hand, it was in the box, but it was driven at him from no more than two yards away and to give a penalty would have been very harsh on the City skipper.
The away side started the second half well, feeling more comfortable in possession and looking more confident after soaking up a lot of Blackburn pressure in the first 45 minutes.
Two minutes in and a Bridge cross-cum-shot just evaded Adebayor and Robinho, before Given did well to push out a Roberts header.
On the hour mark, the City fans were pleased to see their side knocking the ball around well, with the home side unable to get a kick. A lovely passing move was almost finished off by Robinho, who, after breaking into the box, forced Robinson to flick the ball around the post.
From the resulting corner, Adebayor attempts to cheekily flick the cross into the net with a back-heel-cum-volley after Bellamy’s cross was just behind him.
Toure then introduced himself to Morten Gamst Pedersen, but putting in a terrific crunching tackle on the Norwegian, denying him a shot on goal.
And with just over 20 minutes to go, Tevez made his first league appearance for the blue half of Manchester. It was Robinho, who was looking tired, coming off and the Argentinian was on.
Tevez nearly endeared himself with the City fans further, seconds after coming on, but Adebayor’s through ball to him was just cut out by Samba, before City’s new signing could get a shot away.
Ireland then miscued a shot, curling it well over the bar, after an excellent break from Bellamy and the ball found the Irishman just inside the box via Adebayor.
With ten minutes to go, McCarthy worries Given with a free kick, whistling it just over the City keeper’s bar after Richards fouled Pedersen 25 yards out. Richards was then on the receiving end of a tough tackle from Warnock and McCarthy, both crunching him from either side, the former earning himself a booking.
A Wright-Phillips cross bounced out to Bellamy, with just five minutes to go, but his left foot volley was well over the bar. But it didn’t matter, as into stoppage time, City broke with speed and Ireland was set free with a one-on-one with Paul Robinson. And just when the City fans thought the chance had gone, Ireland squeezed the ball past the Blackburn keeper and the defenders on the line for 0-2.
So it was a perfect start to the season for City and for a short while they were top of the Premiership, until Arsenal battered Everton at Goodison Park. A tough game for City at Ewood Park, but the three points were well deserved in the end.