1-0 Vassell 27, 2-1 Nelsen (og) 30
1-1 Santa Cruz 28, 2-2 Santa Cruz 84
- Match reports
- Thu 27 Dec 2007, 12:00AM
- Posted by Leon Collins
Pre Match news
City make two changes to the side that claimed a point at Villa Park on Saturday. Sven-Goran Eriksson brings back Stephen Ireland after his suspension in place of Elano. Didi Hamann is also rested with Vedran Corluka coming in to play as a holding midfielder.
A poignant moment of applause and silence heralded the game's opening as supporters paid the traditional respect to those associated with the Club who passed away during 2007.
With Roque Santa Cruz in good scoring form coming into the game, Micah Richards let the Paraguayan striker know he was in a game with a great challenge in the opening moments.
It was a quiet post-Christmas start with not much to report or warm the healthy crowd as we passed the 15 minute mark.
Blackburn caused the first half-scare for City in the 20th minute as Bentley’s corner from the left reached Zurab Khizanishvili who could only knock the ball over Hart’s bar.
A minute later City should have taken the lead. A lovely Stephen Ireland throughball found Petrov flying down the left, he raced clear to the touchline and pulled an inviting ball back for Bianchi, but somehow he fluffed his lines with a late contender for miss of 2007.
Seven minutes later it didn't seem to matter as City opened the scoring. Corluka found Petrov and as he scampered into the box he elected to stand the ball up to the far post this time where Darius Vassell gave the cross the nod of approval to put City in the lead.
Less than a minute later Blackburn were level and the game had come to life. The two dangerman Sven had picked out in the build-up, David Bentley and Roque Santa Cruz, combined to pull Rovers straight back in to the match.
Bentley’s wicked free kick from the left was flicked home by the unmarked Paraguay striker to make it 1-1.
Before we’d caught our breath again, Petrov was in behind the Blackburn makeshift full back and helping restore City’s lead after half an hour.
Fernandes fed Ireland who by now had sussed Khizanishvili didn’t fancy losing a race to Petrov again and played in the Bulgarian. It was back to the low cross after haring into the box and this time Ryan Nelsen saved Bianchi any embarrassment by putting the ball into his own net to put City 2-1 up.
No further excitement before the break in a strange game that burst into life with three good goals in the space of three minutes.
HALF TIME: City 2-1 Rovers
There was one change at the break and understandably Mark Hughes gives Khizanishvili a late Christmas present by cutting his torment by Petrov short...he might not sleep well tonight. Benni McCarthy replaced him as Blackburn switched to a 4-4-2 formation.
The second half was lively without too much in the way of goalscoring opportunities. A booking aside added to the tense start to the second 45 minutes. Berner for Blackburn while Micah Richards picked up a fourth yellow of the season after 55 minutes.
Elano made his entrance on 64 minutes replacing Bianchi, who came off to great applause. City kept with the same formation as Vassell became the one striker with Ireland pushing to the right to accommodate the Brazilian.
He almost typically proved his worth within minutes of coming on - a fine bit of chest control followed by a volley from an unthinkable angle left Friedel to stand and admire - unfortunately it landed the wrong side of the big American's post.
On 70 minutes City twice almost created chances to grab a vital third goal. Vassell latched onto Elano's long ball but couldn't squeeze it home. Immediately after that Petrov would have been clean through had the assistant's flag not been raised...wrongly? Debatable.
The Blues made a second change on 78 minutes as Stephen Ireland was given a rest after a very good return from suspension. Javi Garrido came on to replace him, taking up in his increasingly familiar left wing berth, Petrov switched to the right as a result.
As City looked to close the game out it took a horrid twist for the worst as controversy broke out six minutes from time with a Blackburn equaliser.
Again it was Bentley and Santa Cruz who put City to the sword for a second time. The big striker headed home a short corner, which had initially been disallowed due to the assistant’s flag. Referee and assistant debated the decision before the goal was given.
The only sense to be made of it is to think that the assistant believed he wrongly raised his flag for an offside in the first place.
A shocked City couldn't create another chance as an exciting game ended with the Blues losing their 100 per cent home record and having to settle for a point in a game they really should have won.
FULL TIME: City 2-2 Rovers
mcfc.co.uk's Man of the Match: Martin Petrov. Lightening pace scared the life out of Blackburn's backline in the first half. Special mention for Vedran Corluka in his holding midfield role.