Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey Match Report - Manchester City v Spurs - 16.03.08
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Man City v Spurs, 16.03.08


City scorers:-
Ireland, 59
Onuoha, 72

Spurs scorer:-
Keane, 32

Attendance: - 40,180

Referee: - Mr. M. Clattenburg

Man City (4-1-4-1):- Hart; Corluka, Dunne (Capt.), Onuoha, Garrido; Fernandes; Castillo (sub Vassell, 70), Johnson, Ireland, Elano (sub Caicedo, 75); Benjani (sub Jihai Sun, 88)

Subs not used: - Isaksson; Geovanni

No Bookings

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Hutton, Dawson, Woodgate, Chimbonda; Lennon (sub Huddlestone, 46), Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque (sub O’Hara, 66); Berbatov, Keane (Capt.) (sub Bent, 66)
(Armband to Robinson)
Subs not used: - Cerny; Tainio

No Bookings

As the end of this game approached, and as I left the Eastlands Stadium, I realised why I found the City fans’ celebrations of victory so bizarre. It was because they had witnessed their side’s first home league victory over Spurs since October 1994. We were treated to a Mexican wave from the fans on either side of us, and they carried on cheering at each other as they passed us outside the stadium. Perhaps they were also delirious because it was their first home win for three months too!

Juande Ramos had shown commitment to the remainder of the League programme by fielding his strongest available side, with Michael Dawson replacing Ledley King at the back, and Alan Hutton returning at right back. City were missing the injured Micah Richards, and the suspended Petrov and Hamann. Skipper Richard Dunne made a rapid recovery from his nine stitch calf wound last week to marshal his defence which included Nedum Onuoha, later to become City’s hero for the day, when he scored the winning goal.

The atmosphere in the ground, which had 8,000 empty seats, rarely got going, and only as full time approached did City fans start crowing, although of course the away section was happy to remind all and sundry that they WERE going on a European Tour. The pattern of the game in the first half featured some good possession by Spurs, who, when they scored after half an hour, looked perfectly capable of extending their run of 8 consecutive wins over City. However, during that first half, City had also tested the resolute Spurs defence with good short piercing passes. Benjani was their front runner, supported by Garrido and Elano from the flanks. Garrido was enjoying a nip and tuck battle with Chimbonda, but all off the Spurs defence were making crucial blocks and tackles throughout. Hutton and Dawson had looked particularly impressive.

Robbie Keane had an exchange of passes with Hutton after 3 minutes, but then, when Robbie got to the bye-line, he fired an all-too powerful cross beyond the reach of anybody. Woodgate demonstrated resolve when using his strength against Benjani in the Spurs area, conceding a corner in the process. Benjani fed Johnson after 9 minutes, and Michael Dawson made an essential winning tackle. Keane had another chance after 13 minutes, racing onto Lennon’s pass, but the shot was retrieved by Hart in the City goal. Dawson went up to support the attack for a Jenas free kick, and Dawson’s header ended with a good chance for Malbranque, whose shot passed just over the corner of goal. Hutton then had a good shot saved by Hart, after Jenas’s pass had sent him away down the right.

After 26minutes, Spurs had to defend quite desperately, with Dawson making two great blocks (one of which led to City fans appealing for handball), and Paul Robinson getting a crucial touch on the ball to ensure the clearance. Either side might have opened the scoring, but it was a classy goal by Robbie Keane that broke the ice. Corluka failed to defend Malbranque’s ball which reached Chimbonda, who passed quickly to the left channel. Robbie made a good run and hit a brilliant first time shot across Hart’s hands, hitting the net in the far corner.

At the other end, Chimbonda was then out-paced by Castillo, who hit a quite woeful effort two yards behind the post. Robinson made a good save from a low shot by Elano, and then Chimbonda did get the better of Castillo, getting a tackle in just in time to prevent a shot on goal.

Juande Ramos chose to replace Lennon at half time with Tom Huddlestone at half-time, pushing Jenas out towards the right flank. Unfortunately, Spurs rarely tested the City defence until they had lost their lead. Robinson made a good save after 52 minutes, after a cross by Benjani who was now giving Hutton a hard time on his flank. Huddlestone did try a long shot after 56 minutes, but it was fodder for Hart. City’s equaliser came from more good work by Benjani on City’s left flank. His cross was mis-kicked by Castillo, headed on by Elano, and touched in by Ireland who was marginally offside, but un-detected by the officials.

Spurs were still not making headway, and despite the strength of the team, perhaps City had the edge when desire was put into the equation. Robbie Keane was understandably upset when he and not Berbatov was chosen to make way for Bent. There were tantrums from Keane as he made his way to the substitutes' seats, but it did not amount to more than personal hurt. City’s substitutions turned out to be more effective; none more so than that of Darius Vassell for Castillo. Vassell immediately won a corner from which Onuoha powered a header into the net for his first club goal.

Now Spurs turned it on a bit, and Bent headed on for Huddlestone whose shot was held, by Hart, who then pushed out a Berbatov header for a corner. Spurs did have the ball in the net from an O’Hara free kick and Bent’s connection, but Berbatov had harshly been called offside at the back post, when not directly involved in the play.

We now seemed to be condemned to 11th place at best for the season. A more committed performance will be required on Wednesday night when we entertain Chelsea.

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Read the preview for this game.

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