1-0 (Robinho 16)
1-1 (Bent 29), 1-2 (Bent 64)
- Match reports
- 09 November 2008 17:00
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
Pre-match: Benjani and Darius Vassell make their first Premier League starts of the season, and Javi Garrido is at left-back as Mark Hughes makes one change to the side that started against FC Twente. Jo is on the bench and Benjani is rewarded for his goalscoring return by facing his former Portsmouth manager.
Vedran Corluka returns to his old stamping ground just over two months after his move to White Hart Lane.
The game’s first half-chance fell to Spurs in the fourth minute, but rather than go to one of Spurs talented attacking players, the ball fell to Jonathan Woodgate who put the chance a long way over from the edge of the box. Tom Huddlestone, on target here a couple of years ago, chanced his arm from long range three minutes later but the shot lacked venom and Hart collected easily.
The early stages were all Spurs, and Luca Modric was inches away from scoring on 10 minutes, his first-time shot from outside the box curling just around Hart’s left hand post. Darius Vassell was free seconds later at the other end, but after moving into the box he could not find Benjani across the other side of the area.
It had been a subdued start by City’s standards, but the game sprang into life on 16 minutes. A patient build-up saw SWP find Vassell, whose powerful shot was parried away by Gomes – straight into the path of Robinho, who met it on the half-volley to place it past Woodgate on the line. It was the mercurial Brazilian’s seventh league goal of the season, and he celebrated by running to his compatriot Elano in the technical area.
At the half’s midway point the scorer nearly turned provider, feeding Stevie Ireland with a deft pass across the defence. Ireland bore down on Gomes and shot for the far bottom corner, but this time the Spurs keeper’s save rebounded into space and the score stayed at 1-0.
But City were reduced to 10 men just two minutes later when Gelson Fernandes was sent off for his second booking of the day. The Swiss international caught Bentley late and Mike Dean showed the yellow and red cards to dismiss the midfielder. The visitors tried to make their advantage count straight away, and Luca Modric should have scored within two minutes when he broke into the City box, but Joe Hart was equal to the task with a superb save to his right.
However matters got worse on 29 minutes when Spurs equalised. Richard Dunne should have dealt with a cross in from the left, but somehow he missed it and the lurking Darren Bent pounced, breaking into the box and shaking off the attentions of Richards and Hart to level the scores.
Mark Hughes addressed the situation by replacing Vassell with Didi Hamann a minute later as City looked to steady the ship after a traumatic passage of play.
David Bentley managed to wriggle free from three City defenders two minutes before the break to shoot from an angle, but he failed to trouble Hart and the ball flew a long way over.
A concerted rendition of ‘Blue Moon’ nine minutes into the second half seemed to inspire City after they had soaked up a lot of pressure following half time. Ireland’s pass found SWP on the right, and his cross forced Spurs to concede a corner – but it came to nothing and City were on the back foot again.
SWP broke the shackles on the hour with a great piece of skill, flipping the ball over Assou-Ekotto to break into the area – but with Robinho free to the side, SWP elected to shoot and Gomes made his save with ease.
City were roused now, and a free kick two minutes later from a foul by King on Benjani set up a good chance. Garrido sent the ball over and Dunne’s powerful downward header forced Gomes to save.
But Spurs made the most of City not taking this chance when they took the lead on 64 minutes. Jenas laid the ball off on the edge of the box despite the close attentions of Dunne and Garrido, and Darren Bent was on hand once again to place the ball beyond Hart’s right hand and into the bottom corner of the net.
Joe Hart kept it at 1-2 on 68 minutes, getting down to his left to stop Huddlestone’s low shot from long range. A trademark backheel from Robinho shortly after allowed Garrido to cross to Benjani, but the striker’s header lacked power and the right direction. A fine pass from Robinho picked out SWP on 73 minutes but his cross from the right could not find a City shirt. Within seconds the Brazilian had taken a free kick quickly and was shooting from long range, Gomes touching it just wide.
We went even closer to an equaliser on 76 minutes, when great skill from Benjani at a free kick allowed Stevie Ireland to volley it goalwards – only for Gomes to make a fine save to his left. At the resulting corner Robinho also had a chance to level the scores, but the ball rolled wide of the right hand post.
And then with seven minutes left City were reduced to nine men when Richard Dunne was shown a straight red card. The skipper tangled with Bent just outside the area as the striker homed in on goal, and Mike Dean reached for red, our third dismissal of the season.
Spurs were reduced in numbers themselves with a minute of normal time left when Assou-Ekotto recieved a second yellow for a two-footed challenge on Zabaleta. A frantic final few minutes saw Robinho all over the pitch as he tried to break down Spurs defence, while Darren Bent went close to completing his hat-trick at the other end.