Barclay’s Premier League
Monday 11 April 2011, 20.00 KO
City: Hart, Boyata, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, Barry, Y Touré, Milner (Silva 59), A Johnson, Tevez (c) (Balotelli 13 (de Jong 83)), Dzeko
Unused: Taylor, Zabaleta, McGivern, Wright-Phillips
Referee: Mark Halsey
Man of the Match: Gareth Barry
The game started brightly, with both sides feeling out the other. Tevez tried a run on the Liverpool goal, while Kompany was in the right place to clear a low cross into the City box. Adam Johnson then tried to weave his way long the Liverpool goal-line, but the ball had run just out of play before he could get the cross in.
Dirk Kuyt had the first shooting chance of the game, after a neat chest down from Carroll to Suarez and a block by Gareth Barry could only fall to the Dutchman. His effort, though, was skied well over Hart’s crossbar. Hart was in action a minute later, though as Suarez found himself one-on-one with the England keeper, who touched his low shot onto the post. Boyata then headed a Tevez cross over the bar at the other end.
With just over 10 minutes played, there was a lucky break of the ball to Suarez and he crossed for the near post, leaving Barry to nod behind for a corner. Lescott cleared it well, but it found its way to Flannigan on the left wing and he put a delightful ball back into the middle, which needed a head from Kompany to concede another corner, as Liverpool pressed.
With 12 minutes on the clock, that pressure told. A speculative shot from inside the City half deflected off Kompany as far as Andy Carroll on the edge of the box. The big striker took it first time and smashed it past Joe Hart, who got a hand to the ball, but couldn’t keep it out. It went from bad to worse for City, though, who then lost Tevez to injury seconds after the restart.
City had to hang on under a spell of Liverpool pressure, but the home side didn’t threaten Hart’s goal. Trying to respond at the other end, Boyata stood a ball up to the back post for Balotelli to head, but he could only get underneath it, as City were rocking. Aurelio, though, was lucky not to see more than yellow for a two footed challenge that left Johnson on the deck.
The resulting free kick was deflected behind from Balotelli and the corner cleared to Kolarov, who found Milner and Dzeko in the middle. Dzeko turned and shot at goal, but it was a good few yards wide from the City forward. Adam Johnson then worked his way into the box, but couldn’t get around Skrtel and Balotelli was inches away from connecting from a Kolarov drilled shot across goal.
But just as City were seemingly getting themselves back into the game, Liverpool doubled the lead. A ball to the back post was blocked by Kompany and it broke to Kuyt on the right side of the box. Kolarov didn’t close him down quickly enough and he slotted it past Joe Hart, giving City a mountain to climb.
From the restart it was three. It was sixes and sevens at the back as Kolarov didn’t climb with Andy Carroll and he nodded it straight past Joe Hart after just 35 minutes. City tried to rally before half time and a low ball in by Johnson was cleared from the penalty spot, but City were toothless in attack. A deflected Kolarov free kick was then nodded wide by Lescott.
The second half started as the first ended. Kolarov was caught out of position and Carroll found some space in the middle of the pitch to shoot at goal, but Gareth Barry was there to block, before it made its way through to Joe Hart. Kuyt then found a free header inside the box from a corner and should have made it four.
Another Liverpool corner just after the hour cause more chaos in the City box, as Lucas found another free header. Hart then flapped at the return ball before it was driven out of play on the far side. City managed to get the ball inside the Liverpool box, but it came to nothing as Dzeko couldn’t find room for the shot.
Kuyt then had an effort deflected away by Barry, after Suarez had broken at Kompany, but, fortunately for City, it came to nothing. Balotelli then had a speculative effort from 45 yards that flew well over. There was then more chaos in the City box as Kompany couldn’t get the ball away and Suarez sliced a volley wide.
Yaya Touré stepped up a gear in the midfield on 75 minutes and managed to get a shot away from the edge of the box, but he dragged it well wide and Reina wasn’t troubled. Kolarov then got away by slipping midway into his own half, as Kuyt put the ball out of play. Balotelli then fluffed his lines again, trying to find Dzeko free on the right, but it bounced through to Reina.
Touré then didn’t help Dzeko on the edge of the box, who could only lift it back towards the Ivorian. It was cleared and knocked across the Johnson by Barry, who curled a cross towards the back post, but Reina dealt with it comfortably. Kuyt then managed to get the ball ahead of Kompany and find Suarez, but he couldn’t put the return into the net. Yaya Touré stung Reina’s gloves with a drive from range.
Andy Carroll nearly grabbed his hat trick on 88 minutes, as Lescott was denied a foul against Kuyt, before Kolarov was beaten too easily by Suarez and he found the Geordie’s head at the back post. It was worrying Hart, but it was just over the bar. City’s worst performance of the season left them with the worst possible build-up for the coming semi final.