1-0 Petrov 11, 2-1 Ireland 90
- Match reports
- Sat 24 Nov 2007, 12:00AM
- Posted by Leon Collins
Pre Match news
Sven-Goran Eriksson makes two changes to the side that earnt a point at Fratton Park last time out. Andreas Isaksson comes in for his first Premier League start of the season with Joe Hart dropping to the bench.
The other change comes upfront where Emile Mpenza returns to the lone striker role in place of Vassell. Reading are unchanged from their last league game.
With the floodlights already on before we get underway here, the City fans in the stands will be hoping that returning star Elano lights the way for the Blues today as they look for an impressive eighth successive home league victory.
Slick build-up play from City almost gave Petrov a sight of goal within the first four minutes. Ireland's throughball was slid behind by Royals captain Murty for the first corner of the game.
The Blues had started brightly, with Stephen Ireland City's best player in the opening moments and he played his part in the opening goal of the afternoon.
England's nemesis, Vedran Corluka, started the move by slipping the ball inside the right channel for Ireland who crossed for Elano. The Brazilian dinked the ball off the post, Hahnemann saved his follow-up and Mpenza's shot, before Martin Petrov rifled the ball home from close range after 11 minutes.
Reading seemed to accept the goal and didn't rally too much, possibly to be expected from a team still looking for their first away win of the season, City kept it steady with their now trademark passing moves.
With Richards and Dunne seeing off any Reading challenges, the Blues just played out the half until a complete shock just before the break saw Doyle and Convey combine well to give James Harper a chance he didn’t pass up.
He guided the ball past Isaksson into the top corner from 15-yards out to give Reading an unlikely equaliser on 43 minutes of an otherwise pedestrian game.
Corluka was withdrawn as Reading celebrated due to what appeared to be a hamstring injury he had been nursing – in fact before Reading pulled level Eriksson had been preparing Jihai Sun to replace the Croat.
A disappointing end to the first half where Elano has struggled to make the impact fans have come to expect.
HALF TIME: City 1-1 Reading
Sven made his second change of the afternoon at the break, bringing on Georgios Samaras for Mpenza as the Blues look to shake off the shock of Reading pulling level.
The half came to life within five minutes as Stephen Hunt performed a disgraceful tackle on Gelson Fernandes. Unbelievably referee Tanner only deemed the challenge as a yellow card.
Minutes later another Irish Stephen, this time Ireland, had the City fans up as his shot from the corner edge of the box looped over the bar.
That tackle seemed to gee the crowd up and City reacted well to it as Petrov upped his game with a couple of lively movements as Sven’s men looked to retake the lead.
Before the hour mark the Blues had used all three subsitutes as a tired looking Elano made way for crowd favourite Geovanni. He looked lively on his arrival and after 65 minutes he hit a fine 25-yarder that just zipped over the Reading bar.
Reading were doing their utmost to keep the Blues out and Sven’s words of ‘patience’ ahead of the game were having to be heeded as the fans grew increasingly restless with 20 minutes remaining.
Petrov nearly unpicked the Royals' lock with a great ball for Samaras, who had made a great run, but he was unlucky as the American keeper saved the Greek's effort with his legs.
When City could get a strike in on goal, the big Reading stopper was grateful to be behind the ball, as Ireland and Petrov found out.
The visitors were increasing their time wasting as the clock ticked down and City's chances to win the game dwindled.
In stoppage time Hamann's fine ball found Geovanni who controlled the ball well on his chest in the area and with the goal at his mercy to win the game he got under the ball and put it over.
What a difference a minute makes...and Geovanni quickly redeemed himself as he set up the winning goal....and what a goal! A long hopeful ball was knocked down by Geo and running on to it was Stephen Ireland to score with a brilliant volley and surely the last kick of the game.
It was his second winning volley into the North Stand end of the ground in as many home games...but this one was so much sweeter as the City of Manchester Stadium erupted.
The whistle blew not long after the restart and the Blues fans could drink a toast to Ireland in the bars of Manchester tonight.
FULL TIME: City 2-1 Reading
mcfc.co.uk's Man of the Match: Stephen Ireland. City's best attacking option during the game and what a way to win it. Gelson Fernandes and Richard Dunne ran him close with impressive displays.