Europa League Group Stage, Group A
Thursday 4 November 2010, 18.00 KO
City: Given, Bridge (Kolarov 69), Boyata, Lescott, Richards, Vieira, Zabaleta (c), Wright-Phillips (Silva 45), Milner (Kompany 77), A Johnson, Adebayor
Unused: Hart, Barry, Jo, Balotelli
Goals: Adebayor (51)
Booked: Richards, Bridge
Referee: Pieter Vink
Man of the Match: Adam Johnson
City started the brighter of the two teams knowing that a victory in Poland would see them qualify from the group. Some neat play between Milner and Johnson should have won City a corner, but the officials turned the appeals down, before Johnson slipped the ball infield for Milner, whose shot was charged down by the Poznan defender. It broke to Adebayor, but he couldn’t get a shot in.
Lescott then smartly put the ball in the Poznan net, when Bridge had quickly put the ball back into the box after a clearance from a corner, but he was rightly flagged offside.
A pair of City corners then came to nothing, before a Stilic effort was charged down by Bridge. Peszko was then too slow to latch onto a through-ball and Given was off his line quickly to gather.
With 18 minutes gone, City should have been in front. A corner from the right caused all sorts of problems in the Poznan box. Adebayor couldn’t get up to nod it into the net, before a Vieira chip to the back post fell to Johnson. He crossed back for Boyata, but the Belgian’s header was bounced off the ground and into the keeper’s arms, when, from six yards out, it should probably have found the net.
On 23 minutes, Given was beaten all ends up from a free kick driven through his man wall by Peszko, but it was just wide of his post. But, soon after, the home side had found the net, against the run of play. City struggled with a high ball into the box and only partially cleared to the edge of the box. Milner got out to close down Injac, but his shot was too quick and it beat Given into the bottom corner.
City were on the ropes for a while, with Lescott almost caught out by Peszko in the centre circle, before rash challenges from Richards and Bridge saw both full backs booked.
With half time approaching, City seemed to be running out of ideas. Milner, Johnson and Adebayor all couldn’t find room for a shot around the edge of the box, before a Johnson free kick missed everybody and bounced behind for a goal-kick.
The first action of the second half saw the visitors level. A corner from the right found Adebayor free in the box. He headed it and it was well stopped by the Poznan goalkeeper, but he could do nothing about Adebayor’s follow-up and he volleyed it into the net.
City could have had another chance to get through on goal after Zabaleta was fouled in the centre, but Johnson’s chip for Adebayor as just too long. At the other end, Zabaleta was in quickly to deny a Poznan breakaway, before a Silva crossfield pass was just too long for Johnson.
With 63 minutes gone, Given was called into action for the visitors, saving from a tight angle, before a deft flick from Adebayor nearly lands in Silva’s path, but the Poznan defence scrambled it away.
Bridge was then lucky not to concede a penalty as he brought down Peszko in the box, before Kielb shot narrowly past Given’s post, with the City keeper throwing himself at the ball.
Lescott then cleared with a great block, before Silva had a great chance to give City the lead after some fantastic work by Adebayor. The Togolese striker broke down the City left all on his own and worked his way into the box, before chipping to Silva, who improvised the shot and it bounced onto the bar and over.
But, just as it looked like City would leave Poland with a point, Poznan scored to change the game. A free kick from deep was lifted into the box and it looked a comfortable clearance for Boyata. He met it, but his header rebounded back off Arboleda and clipped the post on its way past Given.
With less than five minutes to play, City almost nicked an equaliser immediately, after Johnson broke to the by-line and crossed low for Silva. Uncharacteristically, though, the Spaniard put it over the bar from six yards out.
It turned out to be a crucial miss. As the game entered stoppage time, Kompany was crowded out in the midfield after winning two tackles and the ball broke to Mozdzen. From 25 yards out, he smacked a shot straight into the top corner, leaving Given with no chance and winning the game for the Poles.
City in crisis? Only a victory at The Hawthorns on Sunday can prove otherwise.