West Ham 0
0-1 (Bianchi 18), 0-2 (Geovanni 87)
- Match reports
- 11 August 2007 00:00
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
After the rain-sodden summer, the start of the league season was marked, of course, by glorious warm sunshine in east London.
There were six debutantes in City’s first league eleven of the new season, with Schmeichel, Garrido, Corluka, Petrov, Elano and Bianchi all starting for the first time. Kasper was following his father into the City goal just over four years after the great man's last appearance for the Blues on the final day at Maine Road.
Corluka lined up at right back with Richards teaming up with Dunne in the centre of defence. Ahead of them was a five-man midfield, with Elano looking to link up with Bianchi.
Petrov chanced his arm from range early on, but it was Elano with the best chance of the first 10 minutes, firing over the bar from just outside the box.
But City didn’t have to wait too long for their first goal of the new campaign, and it came about through two of the new signings. Elano outpaced the defence to whip a superb cross in from the right, and Rolando Bianchi got just enough on the ball to take it past Green on 18 minutes. The goal stunned both sets of fans, with City’s contingent going berserk and proclaiming ‘City are back!’ from the opposite end of the ground.
The goal roused the hosts, who went on the attack and rattled the woodwork on 22 minutes, but Bowyer had handled the ball in the build up and it would not have counted had the ball gone in. Schmeichel still reacted well to collect a rebound as the referee was blowing his whistle.
The young keeper’s first nervy moment came on 37 minutes when he elected to punch away over the top of Richards, but thankfully Ljungberg’s shot after the ball came down was badly hooked a long way wide.
The first half ended with City looking comfortable, and the home side, looking short on ideas, were booed off by their own fans as the whistle blew.
West Ham were far more fired up after the break, and City were grateful when a Richards back header near the line denied Bellamy a chance, with Zamora firing wide when the ball dropped to him outside the area.
They were just inches away from equalising on the hour following a long period of sustained pressure. Etherington pulled the ball back and Ljungberg’s desperate dive in the six yard box was only just short of poking it past Scheichel.
A raft of substitutions were made just after the hour mark, with Dean Ashton, the man who broke City’s heart in the FA Cup in March 2006, receiving a huge ovation from his own fans. City supporters got their first look at Bojinov, on for Bianchi.
City’s two Bulgarians linked up well after 68 minutes, Petrov’s cross finding Bojinov, but the substitute could not direct his header on target.
Petrov followed this up with a mazy run from the half way line to the right side of the box, his shot being pushed around the corner by Green.
After repelling the early-half pressure, City looked more confident with Bojinov immediately making a rapport with the Blues’ supporters by urging more noise from them.
Geovanni came on for his debut with 10 to go, replacing fellow countryman Elano.
And the Brazilian sealed the game with two minutes left, but it was thanks to a fantastic run from substitute Onuoha. The young defender dribbled the ball into the area, but after initially looking all alone he found Geovanni in space. The former Benfica man steadied himself and drilled the ball low into the far corner, sending the City players and their fans into ecstasy!
There was still time for Geovanni to be denied by a superb save from Green deep into stoppage time.
The home fans aired their disgust as full time blew, but the City contingent roared the Blues off as they acclaimed a fantastic result for a side that looked like they had played together for months.
mcfc.co.uk's Man of the Match: Stephen Ireland - the increased competition in midfield is bringing the best out of Stephen, and his hard working contribution allowed his colleagues to take the game to the Hammers.