1-0 Bojinov 37
AC Milan 0
- Match reports
- 09 August 2008 19:30
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
There was rain and a chill in the air as we reconvened at the City of Manchester Stadium for the first time in the 2008/09 season. Mark Hughes had one eye on Thursday’s upcoming UEFA Cup tie, resting Martin Petrov, giving Richard Dunne a place on the bench and handing the captain's armband to Micah Richards. Valeri Bojinov started again, his first appearance on home turf since his terrible knee injury six minutes into the derby last August.
The stocky Bulgarian striker earned applause early on after holding the ball up well for Vassell, whose eventual cross was a touch too high for both Bojinov and Elano. Hart showed just why he is so well-regarded with a fine save from Paloschi after five minutes, dropping to his left to push away the shot. With Fabio Capello watching from the stands, the youngster will have enhanced his England prospects.
Vassell raced into the right hand side of the box on 14 minutes and saw his cross touched behind by a Milan defender’s hand – but unbelievably neither the referee nor his assistant (just yards away) spotted it, much to Mark Hughes’ disgust.
This was not the anodyne pre-season fare sometimes seen, with both sides going on the attack, and Hart kept it at 0-0 with another fine save on 16 minutes. Paloschi smacked in a shot with his right, which the City keeper punched away to safety.
At the half’s midpoint, Elano and Vassell had the goal at their mercy, but the Brazilian did not make a good connection and the ball rolled wide of Dida’s left hand post. Bojinov nearly had his dream comeback a minute later, but his shot from close range was cleared from right off the line.
Valeri Bojinov’s return was capped in the best possible way when he scored on 37 minutes. A Ball throw-in ricocheted around the box before falling perfectly for the striker, who slammed the ball in off the woodwork with a left-footed first-time strike. His team mates and the crowd gave him an ecstatic reception, which he rightfully milked for all it’s worth.
Danny Sturridge replaced the goalscorer after the break, and he was stopped from breaking away early on when Ambrosini blatantly held him back by almost pulling his shorts off!
Richard Dunne came on to huge cheers on 63 minutes, Micah Richards making a point of handing the captain’s armband back to him. Etuhu replaced Garrido at the same time, the Spanish player holding his right shoulder after falling awkwardly. More worryingly, Micah Richards left the field just afterwards after feeling the back of his right knee, Didi Hamann replacing him.
A swift break upfield saw Vassell lay off to the German on 70 minutes, but his shot flew a long way over the bar. Sadly, Vassell was also seen limping from the field on 75 minutes, Ched Evans coming on in his place. The young Welshman made his presence felt, coming close to bustling the ball in with eight minutes left. The defensive reshuffle due to the substitutions saw Ben Haim go to left back with no problems, and Dunne was also in sublime form.
Three minutes of stoppage time were played out, and City had won this fixture for the first time in three years. The return of Valeri Bojinov was the day’s highlight, but Mark Hughes looked to have some injury worries to contend with ahead of two vital games over the next week.