1-0 Wright-Phillips 2, 2-1 Robinho 57, 3-2 Wielaert 65
FC Twente 2
1-1 Elia 17, 3-2 Wielaert 65
- Match reports
- 06 November 2008 22:00
- Posted by Leon Collins
Mark Hughes will be a relieved man to finally be able to call on Darius Vassell and Benjani for tonight's game in addition to the returning Jo from illness.
Vassell starts for the Blues in his first appearance since the UEFA Cup qualifier against EB/Streymur at the end of August. Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean striker is fit enough for a place on the City bench.
There are starts too for Javi Garrido and Gelson Fernandes as FC Twente are dealt a blow by having to make do without their Matchday 1 match winner, Romano Denneboom.
All the talk before the match was for City to open their participation in the UEFA Cup group stages with a win and with the game's first meaningful attack the Blues stuck to the script and took the lead.
Gelson Fernandes, back in the starting XI, found Shaun Wright-Phillips inside the Twente half and a quick one-two with Jo later the rapid winger was cutting into the area from the right and firing City in front after just two minutes.
The goal instantly settled Mark Hughes' men and they carried threat without creating any further chances but on 17 minutes the visitors shocked the home crowd with a breakaway goal to level the scores.
Surprisingly, a foot up offence on Zabaleta, normally clamped down on in European competition was let go and much to the horror of the City defence Eljero Elia ran through on goal and calmly beat Joe Hart down to his right.
City persisted but couldn't find that final ball to break through again while Twente looked dangerous on the counter attack. And it was from a break down the right that the referee produced the first yellow card.
Pablo Zabaleta was booked for innocuous pull on Hersi from which he took an age to go down...clearly the City faithful did not agree and let it be known.
The game's first substitution came just minutes later as Arnautovic picked up a knock and was replaced by Huysegems. Back to the bookings and Elia talked his way into the book on 41 minutes after disputing a foul.
Jo then had a good chance after beating two defenders inside the area his right footed shot went through the keeper's legs but he seemed to get enough on it to keep it out.
In first half stoppage time SWP injected a bit of pace and raced around the back of the Twente defence before putting a fine ball in which Jo's clever flick brought a simple save from the veteran Boschker in goal.
HALF TIME: City 1-1 FC Twente
There were no changes at the break and City set about the task of retaking the lead by winning an early corner which came to nothing.
Robinho drifted in from the left to release Jo inside the box, but he could only poke it towards goal, as he was always stretching to reach the ball and make a clean contact.
On 53 minutes most of the crowd thought Wright-Phillips had grabbed his second of the night but his 20-yard shot had fizzed behind and the rebound caused the net to ripple.
Four minutes later City did get the second their attacking play deserved and what a strike from Robinho.
Stephen Ireland marched forward with purpose from midfield before laying the ball off to Robinho on the left corner edge of the box. The Brazilian took one touch to steady himself before curling a beautiful right footer into the top corner and give City the advantage.
Two minutes later, Jo made way for Benjani, and the returning striker made his mark straight away as he broke the offside trap to fire a shot in from just outside the box - a helpful deflection from the defender took it away from the keeper to make it 3-1.
But no sooner had the crowd settled down and a Twente substitute been made then the score became 3-2 as captain Robbie Wielaert headed home a left wing corner with 25 minutes to go.
The game became an edgy encounter with both teams breaking at will looking for their next vital goal.
On 75 minutes City hit the post after Robinho had led the Twente defence on a merry dance and the crowd ooh'd as the ball rebounded to safety for McClaren's men.
Benjani then stung the keeper's palms on 79 minutes with a rasping drive from distance as City pressed for a fourth.
After a patient move involving Benjani, Robinho and Zabaleta, Robinho cracked the post again with an effort, and in the final minute Huysegems should have made it 3-3 but could only blaze over the pull back from eight-yards out to the complete despair of an animated Steve McClaren.
But despite that miss and a tense end to the match, the Blues held on to their slender lead and deservedly won the game to register a first group stage win.
In the night's other group game Schalke drew 1-1 with Real Racing Club.
FULL TIME: City 3-2 FC Twente