1-1 Ireland 59, 2-1 Onuoha 71
0-1 Keane 32
- Match reports
- 16 March 2008 00:00
- Posted by Leon Collins
Pre match news:
The big boost for Sven-Goran Eriksson ahead of this afternoon's clash is that captain Richard Dunne, not for the first time this season, has stood up and counted himself into the starting XI.
Despite having nine stitches in a leg wound picked up at Reading the captain takes his place in the heart of the Blues' backline.
Elsewhere, the boss makes three changes with Ball out injured, Hamann suspended and Vassell possibly rested. Onuoha, Ireland and Nery Castillo come in to replace them.
A full strength Tottenham got the game underway and went at City straight from the off. The occasionally leisurely Berbatov had turned up too – his first back-heel coming just 24 seconds after the start.
On three minutes Keane’s clever feet worked an opening for himself, but from a tight angle his shot flew wide.
Nery Castillo started brightly for the Blues and good link-up play with Benjani had the South Stand shouting ‘penalty’ after five minutes as Woodgate ‘eased’ the big striker out of it, and the ball out for a corner.
Benjani turned provider on nine minutes and it was a lovely low cross from the right that Michael Johnson couldn’t quite reach after Castillo again started the move.
At the other end, Joe Hart had to be alert, running to the edge of his box after 13 minutes as Keane attempted to run on to Dawson's long ball from the back.
The biggest talking point of the half came on 27 minutes as Michael Dawson twice rescued Spurs after a scramble where Johnson first, then Elano were left cursing the defender, as the fans again screamed for a penalty.
The ball had dropped to Johnson inside the box and Dawson appeared to block the shot with his arm first before heading Elano’s drive from the corner of the box off the line with Benjani poised to nod home.
As City had pressed for the opener themselves minutes earlier it was Spurs who got it after 32 minutes.
Vedran Corluka lost out as he tried to intercept a cross-field ball high up the pitch to allow Chimbonda to run in behind.
The former Wigan man then found Robbie Keane inside the box and from a difficult angle the Irish striker fired the ball across Joe Hart and into the top corner.
City almost hit straight back just a few minutes later as Johnson's throughball released Castillo but he couldn't adjust himself before slicing wide.
Two minutes later Paul Robinson produced a fine save after more neat play from the Blues. Elano's powerful left footed shot was beaten away by the England international as City chased a deserved equaliser.
Castillo had one final half chance before the break after racing onto Benjani's ball but Woodgate recovered as the Mexican tried to switch the ball back to his favoured left foot.
HALF TIME: City 0-1 Spurs
Ramos made one change at half time with big midfielder Tom Huddlestone on to replace little winger Lennon.
The Blues started the second 45 the brighter with three half-chances to encourage the crowd within the opening 10 minutes - Castillo again looking the most likely man for City.
And just short of the hour mark City's pressure paid off with a goal! It was scrappy when it came but the relief was certainly audible amongst the crowd.
Benjani crossed from the left, it found Castillo at the far post, his effort bounced up for Elano to head on and Stephen Ireland just about got enough on it to steer the ball beyond Robinson from close range...and potentially from an offside position.
A double substitution from Spurs moments later caused Robbie Keane to ‘spit his dummy out’ much to the amusement of the South Stand as he put in a fine display of petulance on leaving the pitch.
Sven-Goran Eriksson then made his first switch with an immediate impact after 71 minutes. Darius Vassell replaced the lively Castillo and won a corner straight away with his usual persistent approach.
Elano took it from the right and Nedum Onuoha rose to beat Dawson and Chimbonda and head home for his first ever City goal and cue the chant ‘Keano, Keano what’s the score?’ as the unhappy Keane looked on.
Caicedo then replaced Elano with 15 minutes to go and shortly after that, with the crowd now up and behind the Blues, Michael Johnson missed a difficult chance to make it 3-1 after more good work from Vassell.
With just six minutes left Spurs thought they had pulled level as O’Hara’s right wing free kick found its way through to Darren Bent but the hawk-eyed official already had his flag up as the Spurs fans celebrated...before being mocked by the relieved Blues fans.
City could have wrapped it up in stoppage time as Sun found Caicedo, but the big striker could only drag his right footed shot well wide.
It didn't matter though as City finally got back to winning ways for the first time since the Old Trafford derby victory. The win also lifted them back up to eighth in the table and kept alive the European dream.
FULL TIME: City 2-1 Spurs
mcfc.co.uk's Man of the Match: Gelson Fernandes. Tireless and thankless task in the middle of the park but the young Swiss midfielder won the battle with some experienced players.