FA Cup Third Round
Sunday 9 January 2011, 16:00 KO
City: Hart, Boateng, Kolarov, K Touré, Lescott, Vieira, A Johnson, Wright-Phillips (de Jong 45), Milner, Jo (Zabaleta 73), Tevez (c)
Unused: Given, Boyata, Santa Cruz, Ibrahim, Nimely
Goals: Milner (23), Tevez (45)
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the Match: James Milner
City’s FA Cup campaign for this season got off to the worst possible start – just 45 seconds into their third round tie with Leicester and they were behind. A short corner was whipped into the box and Bamba got up before Boateng to nod the ball past Joe Hart, leaving the visitors on the back foot from the off.
The response took 13 minutes: after a spell of solid possession, City forced a right wing corner. It was crossed over towards Vieira, who volleyed on the turn, but it was too close to the goalkeeper and Weale got down well to block. Vieira then couldn’t force the rebound back towards goal.
City began to take control of possession, but they weren’t really creating many chances. A Kolarov free kick was deflected well wide of the goal and the resulting corner came to nothing.
But then, from a moment of brilliant play between Milner and Tevez, the English midfielder pulled City level. After a quick one-two, he cut inside the Leicester defence and smashed the ball into the bottom corner with his left foot for his first goal in a City shirt.
From then, the half became a bit flat. Bamba was again unmarked from a Leicester corner, but he couldn’t head towards goal. Adam Johnson had a glorious chance to put City in front as he slid in to Tevez’s low cross, but he could only poke the ball wide, with Jo in perhaps a better position at the back post.
Though, just as it looked like the teams would go in level, City stole the lead. A short corner was poorly defended by the home side and a low Milner cross left Tevez free to back-heel the ball into the net on the near post.
The second half almost began in similar fashion to the first, with the home side almost putting the ball in the net, but, thankfully for City, the effort was just off target. King then headed just over, as Leicester began to look for a way back into the tie.
With 53 minutes played, The Foxes did have the ball in the net through Gallagher from 50 yards out, though play had long since stopped for a foul on Vieira. Leicester then wasted a good chance to get the ball into the box from a free kick, before City cleared the danger.
As the hour approached, City built up a good attack all the way from the back four, leaving Milner with the chance to hit the shot from the edge of the box. His effort, though, was straight at the goalkeeper, who held the shot as Tevez lurked for a rebound.
But then, just as it looked like City had ridden the storm, a mistake from Joe Hart let the home side off the hook. A simple catch was fumbled into the path of Andy King, who needed no second invitation to poke the ball into the net, bringing the game level once again.
With just over 20 minutes to play, de Jong gave away a foul right on the edge of the City box and was relieved to see that the referee had ruled it as such – the foul was right on the line and it was the correct call from the match official. The free kick eventually came to nothing.
Five minutes later, James Milner was City’s saviour, heading the ball off the line as Bamba had, once again, got up before the City defence and beaten Joe Hart. At the other end, de Jong should have had his first City goal and his first goal in over three years, as a great turn from Tevez left him with almost no work to do, but from nowhere, Weale got across to make the save.
With minutes to play, City could have stolen the game with an effort from Tevez, but the goalkeeper got across well to save, before Howard attempted to chip the ball over Hart from 50 yards, but it was well off target.
A trip to Notts County is the reward for the winners of this tie, which will have to be replayed at The City of Manchester Stadium to find a victor.