0-1 (Ireland 45), 0-2 (Wright-Phillips (50), 0-3 Wright-Phillips (58)
- Match reports
- Sun 31 Aug 2008, 5:00PM
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
Pre match news
There are four changes to the side that started our last league game, with Dunne, Hamann, Jo and, of course, Shaun Wright-Philips coming in for Ben Haim, Elano, Petrov and Sturridge. Jo makes his Premier League bow after two UEFA Cup appearances that were separated by his appearances for Brazil in the Olympics, Martin Petrov has a slight knock, Richard Dunne makes his first league appearance of the season after a two-game ban, and Wright-Phillips starts for City for the first time since May 2005.
The prodigal son got a huge ovation from our fans when the teams were announced before kick-off, serenading him with ‘Once a blue, always a blue’, making for a fantastic atmosphere when combined with Sunderland’s usual noisy support.
Phil Bardsley drilled the day’s first shot City’s left hand-post on seven minutes, and two minutes later Cisse’s cute backheel allowed Chimbonda to whip in a cross that missed everybody. Wright-Phillips then announced himself with a couple of trademark jinking runs that had the home defence worried.
Jo was leading the line up front, but on 20 minutes he did well to hold off Chimbonda down the left flank and chip the ball over. Ireland laid it off to Kompany, who smashed his shot straight at a Sunderland defender to round off our best move of the match so far.
Richards and Kompany went into the book just after half-hour, but the referee merely had a word with Cisse after he tried to win a free kick in a challenge with Ball. The atmosphere got livelier a few minutes later when Malbranque went to ground after trying to go past Dunne, the home fans not getting the caution they were baying for. The same thing happened on 40 minutes, when Leadbitter hit the deck just in front of City’s area, play going down to the other end while Roy Keane protested in the ‘strongest terms’ to the fourth official.
Dunne and Hart combined well to keep it at 0-0 on 42 minutes, the skipper hooking a Diouf header away from goal before the keeper punch the ball to safety, barging Micah Richards out of the way in the process.
City’s game of patience paid off perfectly on the stroke of half-time. Hamann laid off to Johnson, whose cross was turned by Danny Collins straight into the path of Stephen Ireland, whose first-time shot from close-range clipped Gordon’s hand on the way into the corner of the net. The perfect response to a frantic few minutes at the other end!
Hart & Richards’ collision was serious enough to see the defender replaced by Ben Haim after the break. The Blues carried on in an attacking vein, Wright-Phillips’s dangerous cross nearly found Jo but was smothered by Gordon.
But that pair then combined on 50 minutes to seal the dream comeback for Shaun Wright-Phillips! A free kick found it’s way over to the Brazilian, who threaded the ball through a crowded box right into SWP’s path, and from two yards out he could not miss. To make it even better, his first goal for City since Villa Park in May 2005 came right in front of his adoring City fans in the away section.
And the dream became Sunderland’s nightmare on 58 minutes when SWP added a second! Ball’s chip over the top drew Gordon a long way out of his goal, and Wright-Phillips deftly guided the ball in, first-time, with the outside of his right foot.
The Blues were comfortable now, and the home side had their keeper to thank for the score staying at 3-0 to City on 72 minutes, the Scot making a brilliant save from Michael Johnson’s backheeled flick.
The home fans headed for the exits from as early as 75 minutes, and Wright-Phillips also left the arena early, replaced by Elano with five minutes left and earning a deserved standing ovation from City’s fans.
David Healy got a shot in on target that drew ironic cheers from all round the ground, and City played out time playing keep-ball to cap a great afternoon and make the long trip home a real pleasure.
mcfc.co.uk man of the match: Shaun Wright-Phillips - the perfect comeback!