Barclay’s English Premiership
Saturday 14 August 2010, 12.45 KO
City: Hart, Richards, Kolarov (Zabaleta 45), Kompany, K Touré, Barry, de Jong, Y Touré, Wright-Phillips (A Johnson 68), Silva, Tevez (c) (Adebayor 84)
Unused: Given, Lescott, Vieira, Jo
Booked: Kompany, Zabaleta
Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the Match: Joe Hart
City’s season began at White Hart Lane, a ground that had been traditionally a difficult place for them for the last few seasons. At the hands of the club who prevented City taking a Champions League place last season, despite the new signings, City were always going to be under a lot of pressure.
With 10 minutes gone, it was all the home side. Joe Hart hadn’t been properly tested in the City goal, except for a header from Crouch that he fingertipped around the post, but the majority of the play was inside the visitors’ box.
Soon after, however, the City goalkeeper showed why he has been tipped as a future England regular. First, from a Crouch nod down, he reacted superbly to push away a Defoe swivel and shot, as it looked destined for the net. A minute later, he was there to tip a Huddlestone effort from range after he had punched a corner.
But the best was yet to come. From another Spurs corner, Assou-Ekotto fired it back in. It looked to be flying wide of Hart’s goal until it hit the head of Wright-Phillips, which sent it looping towards the top corner. Hart, however, got up well and flicked it over the bar.
With 21 minutes on the clock, Silva had City’s first real effort on goal. Cutting in from the right wing, he tried to curl one of the back post on his left foot, but there were too many Spurs bodies in the way for it to worry Gomes.
On the half hour, Spurs continued to press and it nearly paid off. Bale drove a low shot across goal that had Hart beaten, but it struck the foot of the post and bounced out, leaving Kompany to clear the danger.
Kolarov then went to sleep and allowed Defoe a run at goal. Hart, though, was off his line quickly to stop the England forward. The ball squirmed free towards the forward again with an open goal, but excellent pressure from Hart and Kolarov meant he couldn’t find the net.
Yaya Touré then forced a comfortable save from Gomes as his shot was deflected, before it was hearts in mouth time as Kompany, already booked, was adjudged to have fouled Defoe and preventing him a run at goal from the halfway line.
The best chance of the second half came immediately after the kick off. Wright-Phillips was sent clean through into the Spurs box, but Assou-Ekotto recovered to tackle as the England winger waited too long for the ball to bounce down.
Zabaleta then joined Kompany in the book for a clear bodycheck on Lennon, before Yaya Touré sent a deft chip into the box for Richards to latch onto, but the right-back could only nod it into the hands of the oncoming Gomes.
Crouch could then only head wide from a Lennon cross, before Wright-Phillips made way for Adam Johnson, fresh from his full England debut on Wednesday evening. Immediately, he got into the thick of the action, beating two defenders and finding Tevez, but the Argentinean’s shot was deflected wide.
Hart was then called into action to deny Pavlyuchenko’s effort from outside the box, before the same man had another effort on goal, safely blocked by the City keeper. Some good build up play from the home side then sent Lennon through into the box, but Hart was out again to deny the forward with a neat claim.
De Jong then put in an excellent tackle to deny Bale a run at goal, before Kompany bettered it, sliding in to take the ball off Pavyluchenko’s toe as he was about to pull the trigger in the box. Bale then missed a sitter as the ball broke to him inside the box with Hart beaten, but it was on his right foot and he blazed it wide.
Adebayor could have won the game for City in the closing stages, but the ball skipped off his chest too quickly for his to chase and Gomes was out to collect. Despite the four minutes of added time, neither side could force the first goal of the season and it’s City who will have the happier set of supporters.