Sheffield United 2
1-0 (Shelton 11), 2-0 (Stead 24)
2-1 (Sturridge 48)
- Match reports
- Sun 27 Jan 2008, 12:00AM
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
Pre Match news
City’s starting eleven showed three changes to the one that began against West Ham last Sunday. Micah Richards’ injury saw Nedum Onuoha return and go into central defence. Gelson Fernandes replaced Stephen Ireland, and with Emile Mpenza starting up front in place of the departed Rolando Bianchi, Darius Vassell would play wide on the right.
City’s fans were chanting ‘England’s number’ one about Joe Hart from very early on, and after nine minutes the Under 21 international was called upon for the first time. Jon Stead had a free header from a Shelton cross, but Hart was down to his left quickly to make a fine one-handed save.
But barely a minute later the hosts were ahead through Luton Shelton. Martin’s low cross from the left deflected off Richard Dunne, Michael Ball missed the ball after it had hit one of a crowd of balloons that had blown onto and not been cleared from the pitch, before Shelton made no mistake from inside the six yard box.
A quarter of an hour had gone when City were inches away from equalising through Elano, the Brazilian’s bobbling shot from the edge of the box clipping the post with Paddy Kenny rooted to the spot.
The United keeper kept his side ahead on 21 minutes, diving to his left to keep Elano’s free kick out after the ball had kicked up off the rutted surface inside the six yard area in front of him.
And his save become even more important three minutes later when United doubled the lead. Dunne blocked Shelton at a cross, but the ball rolled straight to Jon Stead, who hammered it home past Hart’s outstretched right hand to stun the City fans behind the goal.
Hart had to be on his mettle again on 36 minutes, coming off his line and out of the box to head clear to deny the oncoming Derek Geary, who had raced upfield after a City attack had broken down.
Didi Hamann chanced his arm from long range on 40 minutes, but Morgan’s deflection took it wide. At the resulting corner Paddy Kenny could not get a hand on the ball, but none of the City players nearby could take advantage and the scored stayed at 2-0.
The big news came after the break, with Danny Sturridge replacing Elano as City went all out to stay in the cup. And would you believe it? The teenager put the Blues back in the tie with a fantastic goal just three minutes in!
Petrov swung a corner over the from the left, the ball flew out to Sturridge on the right side and with sublime skill he controlled the ball before flicking it in off the underside off the bar with his left foot, a stunning effort.
It was a fiery encounter now, with Quinn going into the book and the home fans outraged that Hamann and Dunne had also not gone into the book. Gelson Fernandes did with 10 minutes gone, and at the free kick Keith Gillespie’s rasping shot bent away from Hart’s left hand post.
Darius Vassell was just short of getting a shot in with 21 minutes left, bringing down a long pass from Stephen Ireland inside the area before Kenny was able to claim it. Petrov swung over a free kick from the right on 73 minutes, Richard Dunne made good contact with his head but the ball went wide of Kenny’s left hand post.
Geovanni replaced Mpenza and made a great run down the right, his cross being cut out at the last minute by Morgan as Vassell homed in.
Stephen Ireland cut inside the box in the 90th minute and shot for goal, but Morgan’s desperate block denied the midfielder.
Four minutes were added on, but City could get the goal they needed. Billy Sharp had a great chance to make it 3-1 but fired a long way over. Alan Wiley blew for full time after 94 minutes, and City were out of the cup for another season.