Barclay’s Premier League
Tuesday 10 May 2011, 19.45 KO
City: Hart, Richards, Kompany (c), Lescott, Zabaleta (Kolarov 58), de Jong, Milner, Y Touré, Silva (Tevez 84), A Johnson (Vieira 67), Dzeko
Unused: Given, Boyata, Wright-Phillips, Balotelli
Goals: Crouch (OG 30)
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the Match: Vincent Kompany
The penultimate midweek of the season and City had their rearranged fixture with Tottenham to play before thoughts could turn to the FA Cup Final. And it was almost a repeat of last season’s rivalry, although this time Tottenham behind on points and City could qualify for the Champions League with a victory over last season’s tormentors.
Though it was the visitors that got off to the better start with some pressure from Modric and Lennon, it was City who fashioned the first shooting chance of the match, but Yaya Touré’s effort from the edge of the box was sliced wide. And with 10 minutes played, Dzeko should have given the home side the lead, as Silva found him on the edge of the six yard box, but Cudicini spread himself well to block.
City wanted a penalty on 17 minutes as Milner went down inside the box, but it was a soft challenge and the referee waved away the protests. Crouch then wanted the same at the other end, but, again, the complaints were rightly dismissed. Modric should have put the visitors in front on 28 minutes, but his placed shot was just inches wide of Hart’s post, with the City keeper scrambling.
And then, against the run of play it has to be said, the home side got their goal. A break in the Tottenham pressure came with a City corner and it was taken short between Milner and Silva. The visitors, not switched on, didn’t defend it properly and Milner had the chance to drive a low cross into the six yard box. Lescott and Kompany were nearby, but the vital touch came from Peter Crouch, scoring in the same net as he did last season, but this time for a different team.
City could have doubled their lead seconds after the restart, as the ball broke to Silva via Richards, but the Spaniard couldn’t find room for the shot and his pass to Dzeko in the box was cut out before the Bosnian could get the shot in. Tottenham tried to get themselves into a shooting position, but there was nothing to trouble Joe Hart at the end of the first half.
The second half came and with it came the expected Tottenham onslaught. In the opening stages, it took a fantastic save from Hart to deny Pienaar an equaliser, as he flicked the ball around the post with Lescott saving the corner. The visitors must have been sick of the sight of the City keeper this season.
Peter Crouch was fortunate to escape punishment as he caught Zabaleta with a flying elbow as the two challenged for a high ball, the latter having to leave the pitch eventually through injury as the medical team were unable to sort it out to get him back into the game. Vieira joined the action for City to give the midfield some bite and it worked, getting the home side some more of the ball and relieving the constant pressure.
Milner could have got his first Premier League goal for City as a neat touch took him into the area, but he squared instead for Silva, but the ball was intercepted before it reached its target. This was just after Silva couldn’t connect to a Yaya Touré’s low ball to smash it home. Dzeko then skied an effort from the edge of the box, after Milner had delivered the ball to him on a plate.
Tevez then joined the action and almost immediately forged a game winning chance, as he broke into the area and knocked the ball for Vieira to shoot. The big Frenchman waited for Cudicini to go to ground and just lifted it over him. It was goalbound until a brilliant header from Gallas put the ball over the bar for a City corner.
The visitors’ attacks became more desperate as the game entered stoppage time and the centre-back pairing of Lescott and Kompany were eating every one of the balls into the box up, leaving City the chance to break. Kompany tried it, as did Kolarov, but neither could force that second goal. It didn’t matter, though, as the whistle went before Tottenham could get the ball into the box and City will finish at the very lowest in fourth place this season.