FA Cup Fourth Round Replay
Sunday 20 February 2011, 14:00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, K Touré (c), Lescott, Richards, Vieira, Y Touré (Barry 81), Kolarov, Silva (Jo 87), Balotelli (Tevez 60), Dzeko
Unused: Taylor, Boateng, Kompany, Nimely
Goals: Vieira (37, 58), Tevez (84), Dzeko (89), Richards (90+1)
Referee: Mike Jones
Man of the Match: Patrick Vieira
After a tough game the first time round, City knew that Notts County were going to be a difficult opponent. And for the opening stages, it was the visitors who were on top of the game: Hart had trouble with a first minute free kick, before Hughes slipped as he struck a shot and, but for that, it could have caused more trouble than it did.
With ten minutes played, City were struggling to get to grips with their opposition and it showed, as Gow hit a low free kick towards the net and Hart elected to be safe rather than sorry, pushing it behind for a corner. Shortly after, Hawley picked up the ball on the corner of the box and curled an effort around Hart. Many in the ground thought it was in, but it hit the inside of the post and bounced out.
And that was the wake-up call that City needed. Richard put in a perfect cross for Dzeko, who got up to head well, but it was straight at the goalkeeper, who pushed it over the bar. Kolarov then had an effort on goal that was spilled by Nelson and picked up by Silva, but the little Spaniard couldn’t get a cross back into the box, but did win a City corner.
Dzeko glanced a header across goal from that corner, but nobody could get the vital touch into the net, before Richards had a go with his head, but he got under the cross and nodded it over the bar, as City began to turn up the heat. Balotelli almost put Dzeko through, but for some good Notts County defending to get in a block.
With just over ten minutes to go until half time, Silva tried a curling effort from the edge of the box, but it was too high to trouble Nelson, before Balotelli forced an excellent save from the goalkeeper with a first time shot after Silva had weaved his way into the box.
From that resulting corner, though, City made their pressure pay. A great cross from Silva was met by the head of Vieira and the veteran nodded it through the goalkeeper’s legs, via Pearce’s hand, to give City the lead. With a minute to go until the break, Hart had to dive bravely at Hughes’s feet to deny the visitors an equaliser.
The opening exchanges of the second half were nervy, as Kolo Touré helped out Balotelli after the Italian had given the ball away on halfway, before Balotelli couldn’t force a shot at goal as he was crowded out in the area.
But, as the hour mark approached, Vieira doubled his tally and City’s lead, with another header from another corner. The ball was flighted perfectly for the Frenchman’s head and he connected with power, to leave the keeper standing. The concern, though, was for Balotelli and Pearce, who had had a nasty clash of heads in a challenge for the same ball.
With 70 minutes on the clock, Tevez forced a good save from Nelson as he shot from range and City were looking like they were going to cruise to victory. Hart was called upon once or twice for routine saves, but there was nothing troubling him from the visitors – Hawley shot low, before Westcarr skied an effort and the home side were comfortable.
Eight minutes later, though, Hart needed some acrobatics to keep the clean sheet in tact, as Gow hit a volley from the edge of the box. It looked like it would fly past the young England keeper, but he got up well to get both hands on it and force it over the bar.
With just over seven minutes to play, the substitute Carlos Tevez wasn’t going to miss out on the action and he grabbed his 50th goal in a Manchester City shirt. He latched on to a brilliant Dzeko pass, took the ball around Nelson and slid it into the net from an acute angle.
Vieira could have had his first ever hat-trick in professional football two minutes later, but he couldn’t get round a header from a Kolarov free kick and he nodded it wide of the far post. Dzeko then tumbled in the area and it looked a nailed on penalty, but the referee turned it down.
But then Dzeko added to City’s goal tally. A brilliantly weighted pass from Barry sent Tevez through, he drew the goalkeeper and chipped the ball into the six yard box for Dzeko to head into the net from a yard out.
And in stoppage time, it got better. A corner from the left wing fell to Micah Richards in the box and he took a touch to control, before volleying it into the top corner with his left foot. The scoreline perhaps flattered City, but they won’t care about that and it sets up a tie with Aston Villa in the next round.