Barclay’s Premier League
Wednesday 2 February 2011, 19.45 KO
City: Hart, Kolarov, Kompany, Richards (K Touré 37), Boateng, Barry, de Jong (Vieira 45), Milner, Silva, Tevez (c), Dzeko
Unused: Given, Zabaleta, Lescott, Jo, Guidetti
Goals: Tevez (4), Kolarov (40)
Booked: de Jong, Kolarov
Referee: Kevin Friend
Man of the Match: David Silva
City couldn’t have wished for a better start to the game at St Andrews, as Silva picked up the ball on the edge of the Birmingham area and tried to make room for the shot. Crowded out by defenders, he opted instead to slide Tevez through on goal and, after a touch that looked slightly too wide, the Argentinean striker fired the ball back across Foster and into the bottom corner after just four minutes.
The home side responded brightly, but they couldn’t force Joe Hart into a save, as a free kick was placed straight into the City wall and an unmarked Cameron Jerome was found by David Bentley, but his header was well wide and well over the target.
With 17 minutes gone, Hart tipped a Zigic volley over the bar – it may have gone over anyway, but the young England keeper wasn’t to know and he opted instead for safety. A wise decision, as City cleared the resulting corner comfortably.
But, four minutes later, the home side were back level. A free kick from the left flank was poorly crossed into the City box, but nobody dealt with it and Zigic was left to flick the ball under Joe Hart. It was a poor goal from another set piece that undid City and questions will be asked about the marking.
Kolarov then hit the wall with a free kick, before Dzeko had a golden chance to grab his first Premier League goal after some hard work from Silva, but he dragged his shot well wide of the goal. City then lost Richards to a serious looking head injury, as the defender was down for almost seven minutes for treatment before being stretchered from the field.
When the game restarted, Dzeko won a free kick on the edge of the box after he was dragged to the floor by Gardener and up stepped Kolarov to rifle it, low, hard and with plenty of bend, into the bottom corner, as Tevez and Silva lurked.
City finished the half the stronger, after a David Bentley free kick was well cleared. Tevez was almost able to release Dzeko, Silva couldn’t quite reach the ball before the on rushing Foster and Boateng had an effort that was best forgotten, being as it was closer to the corner flag than the net.
It was the home side who began the second half the better, with Kompany missing a clearance leaving Bentley the chance to volley at goal, but it was just over the bar as Hart pulled his hand away, knowing where it was heading. Boateng then forced a comfortable save from Foster as he worked his way into the box.
Kolo Touré was then needed to get the ball off the line after it was loose in the box, but the referee had already stopped the game for a foul on Hart by Zigic. Jiranek then had an air shot in the City box when he had the chance to test City’s keeper, before a great challenge from Touré denied Jerome the chance to run in behind the defence.
City then wanted a penalty after the ball struck Carr’s hand when Milner tried to cross and it was certainly one for the “you’ve-seen-them-given” category. Kolarov then miscued a volley inside the box from a deep cross, before Tevez was neatly found by Silva, but the on rushing Foster was equal to his effort.
Just as it looked like City had done enough to earn all three points without really getting out of second gear, the Birmingham pressure paid off. Phillips turned into Vieira in the box and the veteran striker went to ground, leaving the referee to point at the spot. It was very harsh and dubious at best, but Gardener didn’t care as he smashed it past Hart.
Silva then had the chance to find the net from a poor Foster punch, but his kicked the ground at the same time as the ball and it bounced wide. He was then on defensive duty as Hart lost the ball, after Bentley hit the wall with a free kick. Hart then had to tip a Phillips deflected effort of the bar, before retreating to his line to pluck a header from under the crossbar.
The final chance of the game fell to the visitors, as Kolarov stepped up to take a free kick from roughly the same position as he scored. He came very close at the far post, but it was just wide and City came away from St Andrews with only one point, when they could, and perhaps should, have had three.