Barclay’s English Premiership
Sunday 1 November 2009, 16:00 KO
City: Given, Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, Bridge, Barry, de Jong (c) (Ireland 59), Bellamy, Wright-Phillips, Tevez, Santa Cruz (Petrov 66)
Unused: Taylor, Richards, Johnson, Slyvinho, Weiss
Booked: Bridge, Santa Cruz
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the Match: Shay Given
City went into this game knowing that a draw would be enough to take them back into the top four. But to fully take advantage of the weekend’s results, they needed to win, especially after defeats for Liverpool and Tottenham the day before.
Six minutes had passed when the first chance of the game arrived. It fell to the home side, as Gareth Barry was robbed of the ball by Ferguson, but the Birmingham man could only fire his shot wide of Given’s goal.
Two minutes later and Birmingham had another good chance. Benitez wriggled his way free and fired a shot through Kompany’s legs as the big Belgian attempted to close him down. Shay Given, though, was on hand to get the slightest of touches onto the post and City cleared the danger.
With 11 minutes gone, Birmingham will have been kicking themselves that they weren’t in front when Benitez was though with a one-on-one with Given, but City’s keeper stood tall and blocked the effort.
Down the other end, City were trying to get into the game. Santa Cruz headed well wide with a free header, before Tevez played a superb ball through to Bellamy, but the Welshman’s shot was well blocked for a corner.
Shortly after, Birmingham stand-in keeper Maik Taylor struggled with a long range effort from Wright-Phillips and could only spoon it back into the box. His centre-backs, though, combined to rescue the situation, before Santa Cruz could connect.
Just before the half hour, Zabaleta lost the ball just inside the City half and McFadden had a go from range. It was heading for the top corner until City’s goalkeeper palmed it over the bar.
With 15 minutes of the half remaining, City were emerging as the better passing side, but they were struggling to create anything meaningful. Lescott headed over from a free kick, before Santa Cruz had an effort blocked from close range.
Just before half time, Given saved well from a Bowyer effort from range and he was the first to react to the rebound, diving on it bravely when under pressure.
Barry was then unable to sort his feet out in the Birmingham box and the chance of a shot was gone, before Tevez was fouled on the right wing, but the free kick came to nothing.
The first chance of the second half fell to Carlos Tevez, but his effort went well over the bar. Bridge then picked up a daft yellow card for kicking the ball away, after he was adjudged to have taken it out of play on a superb run.
A minute later, though, de Jong was harshly punished for handball in the area. As he jumped, he lost the header and it rebounded down onto his hand, and Mike Dean pointed to the spot. But it was Shay Given to the rescue, as he pulled off a fantastic save to deny McFadden.
Three minutes later, City wanted a penalty for a foul on Zabaleta, but there was nothing doing from the referee. And just after the hour, City should have taken the lead, as Lescott fired straight at Taylor from a corner, perhaps surprised the kick reached him in the first place.
On 68 minutes, Carlos Tevez had another effort and it required a touch from Taylor to prevent the goal. The resulting corner, though, came to nothing.
Two minutes later, Bowyer fired in a low cross into the City box and Zabaleta did tremendously well not to put it through his own goal as he cleared the danger from just in front of Given.
The game was getting scrappy and, while City were having enough possession, they couldn’t create any decent chances. Wright-Phillips chipped a cross over the bar when he had time and space, while, at the other end, a Kompany clearance rebounded off Ireland and put City back under pressure.
With five minutes left, Bridge made a run into the box and his shot was blocked by Johnson. The rebound fell to Tevez, who looked to be fouled as he tried to wriggle free in the box, but the referee said no penalty.
The game had to be stopped for a bad injury to Johnson, who looked like he was struggling to breathe after blocking Bridge’s shot and colliding with one of his own players. But the physios were quickly on and he was soon ready to re-join the action.
Deep into stoppage time, Birmingham substitute Kevin Philips wanted a second penalty as Kompany slipped when blocking his volley, but the referee ruled it wasn’t handball and City were able to clear.
The last action of the game was a very silly second yellow card for Birmingham’s Ferguson, booked for handball, when he stopped Zabaleta from taking a throw-in midway in the City half.
It was two firsts for City – the first penalty in a game for or against and the first time City failed to score in a league match this season. Given the amount of possession the visitors had, they will be disappointed not to have created more meaningful chances and a point was a fair result.