Carling Cup Round 4
Wednesday 28 October 2009, 19:45 KO
City: Given, Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, Sylvinho, Wright-Phillips, Ireland (Weiss 59), Barry (Johnson 73), de Jong (c), Santa Cruz, Tevez (Benjani 79)
Unused: Taylor, Richards, Bridge, Bellamy
Goals: Ireland (2), Santa Cruz (37), Lescott (55), Tevez (71), Johnson (77)
Booked: de Jong, Zabaleta
Referee: Michael Oliver
Man of the Match: Roque Santa Cruz
After the disappointing result against Fulham, City were looking for a good start to a tie they were expected to win comfortably. Mark Hughes, once again, named a strong side, showing his intent to take the competition seriously when other Premiership teams perhaps don’t.
The away side fashioned the first chance of the game, forcing Given into a good save at his near post as Paul Hayes had a go from just outside the box. But it was City who took the initiative, and, after Shaun Wright-Phillips played him in, Stephen Ireland scored a beauty from the edge of the box, leaving the keeper standing.
And a good start nearly got better for City, as, from kick-off, Ireland stole the ball and sent Wright-Phillips in. But the little winger’s effort from range was just inches over the bar.
While City controlled possession, they weren’t able to test the visiting goalkeeper. And Scunthorpe punished the blues after 25 minutes. De Jong gave the ball away in midfield and it was played past Kompany into Williams’s feet. Lescott wasn’t sure whether to close the ball or mark the man square and, in the end, was left in no man’s land as the low cross found Forte to tap home.
Just before the half hour, Wright-Phillips was found by Ireland on the left and his low, first time effort was well saved by Murphy in the Scunthorpe goal. Murphy then dived bravely to take the ball away from the on-coming Wright-Phillips, before the City man could get a vital touch.
With half time approaching, City re-took the lead. Zabaleta crossed to the back post and Santa Cruz peeled off his man to meet it with a powerful header. It found the bottom corner of the goal and City were able to take an advantage into half time.
City started the second half the way the ended the first, with a neat passing move resulting in a Wright-Phillips knock back for Santa Cruz. But the Paraguayan was only able to smash his shot just over the bar.
Ireland then slid a neat ball in to Santa Cruz, whose shot on the turn was well saved by Murphy. City’s third was coming – it was a case of when and not if.
And minutes later, it arrived. A corner from the City left was crossed in by Wright-Phillips and Joleon Lescott found himself unmarked on the penalty spot. He didn’t need asking twice and he powered home a header for his second goal in as many games.
Ireland’s last action of the game was to beat the goalkeeper on a one-on-one, but his touch wasn’t heavy enough to earn himself his second goal of the night, as Canavan was able to get back and clear the ball from the line. The Irishman was replaced by Weiss, who got a good half hour to show off his skills.
Weiss’s first touches of the game were to turn the full-back inside out, before he crossed to Wright-Phillips via Santa Cruz, and it was down to Murphy to make another brave stop, as City began to dominate.
Tevez then joined the fun, as he was quickest to react to a low Vladimir Weiss cross after a short corner, and City found themselves in complete control of the game at 4-1. It should be a boost for Tevez, who ran his socks off all night, chasing lost causes.
With just over 10 minutes to go, Michael Johnson wriggled free from two challenges, before he smashed a left foot shot into the top corner from 22 yards out. As he celebrated with the team, there wasn’t a City fan in the ground who wasn’t pleased for him, after his torrid time with injuries.
Kompany then sent Weiss through on goal, but the youngster wasn’t able to find the bottom corner on his one-on-one. Replays, though, showed the keeper had made a great save that went unnoticed by the officials.
And with that City were safely though into the Quarter Finals of the Carling Cup, and Mark Hughes will be looking for the best possible draw to give City the best chance of some silverware this season. Roll on Birmingham.