Doncaster Rovers 1
1-0 (McDaid 16)
1-1 (Corradi 48), 1-2 (Richards 63), 1-3 (Mpenza 65)
- Match reports
- Sat 14 Jul 2007, 12:00AM
- Posted by Leon Collins
Sven-Goran Eriksson's first match in charge of the Blues attracted huge interest, with a packed press box and hordes of photographers all poised to record his return to the dug-out at Doncaster's excellent stadium.
The new City boss had promised to field a strong side, and he was as good as his word. Micah Richards made a welcome return to action after hobbling off at the Riverside in March.
The opening quarter of an hour was fairly sedate until the hosts took the lead on 16 minutes. The ball was moved down City's left flank and the cross over to the far side of the box found former Leeds man Sean McDaid, who rolled the ball back across Isaksson and into the corner of the net.
Emile Mpenza beat the offside trap four minutes later, and his stabbed shot from the edge of the area hit the outside of veteren keeper Neil Sullivan's left hand post.
Darius Vassell went close to equalising on 25 minutes, his shot on the turn from eight yards or so looping over the bar thanks to a last minute deflection from Adam Lockwood.
City's best move of the match so far came on 32 minutes, Mpenza finding Ireland, whose shot from a tight angle brought out a good save from Sullivan.
Half time saw Hart, Johnson, Hamann and Corradi replace Isaksson, Miller, Dabo and Vassell.
It took only three minutes for one of the substitutions to pay off, with Bernardo Corradi latching on to an Mpenza knock down and thumping the ball past Rovers' replacement keeper, Ben Smith. The Italian's goal was his first since Portsmouth in February, and he clearly enjoyed it.
City looked much more comfortable now, and on 63 minutes they took the lead from an unlikely source. Micah Richards moved into the area, and after slipping a couple of lunging tackles he sidefooted the ball home from just a couple of yards out. Micah's goals are usually memorable for one reason or another, and this one went into the memory banks thanks to an extravagant, and gravity-defying, handspring-cum-somersault!
Just two minutes later City were 3-1 up, Emile Mpenza's deflected shot from inside the area having enough legs to cross the line. The Belgian's celebrations were more muted, pointing his finger to acknowledge City's fans behind the goal.
Both managers took the chance to make more substitutions for the rest of the match, with City's entire complement on the bench eventually seeing some action.
Stephen Ireland came closest to increasing the lead with four minutes left, but Smith raced out to dive at his feet and deny the Irishman.
Hamann's curled free kick on 89 minutes saw Smith tip the ball over the bar. Ireland's drilled shot from the resulting corner was just wide of the right hand post.