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City of Hope!

By Santosh Benjamin :  25/02/2008 :  Comments (0) :
I hope that this is not the last time we visit the City of Manchester Stadium this year. If our display was anything to go by, I wouldn't be surprised to see us back in May for the Uefa Cup Final!!!

I was disappointed when I heard just before the match that Arteta was out and Neville was back in midfield. I was also sad to see that there was no room even on the bench for Vaughan. To add to that, I see Rob Styles as the ref and think: what's he going to do today?

The game started scrappily with both sides matching each other in the middle of the park. After a good build up, Cahill had a shot on goal which appeared to be blocked by the hand of Onuoha... which was ignored by the ref. Pienaar then hit the post with a curling shot from the edge of the box.

We started to boss the midfield and their creative sparks, Petrov and Fernandes, seemed to be stifled by our lads who closed them down very quickly. Yak was holding the ball up well and Pienaar, Cahill and Ossie were passing very well. We duly opened the scoring when Cahill did well on the left skipping past the City defenders and squaring the ball on the-six yard box for the Yak to tap in.

We really turned it on after that and a little later, after a corner the ball fell to Carsley, who whipped the ball in and Lescott nipped in at the far post to head a looping one over the oncoming Hart. Lovely celebrations with Lescott pointing at the provider ? Carsley. We went in at the break well on top.

The second half started with the rain pouring down and City duly joined in by pouring forward with the help of Elano who had come on for Hamann at the break. Thankfully Elano had his radar set on way off target so things were ok. City did have the better of things in the opening 20 mins or so of the second half.

Carsley was a bit heavy with one of his touches and tried to compensate by up-ending Fernandes to get the ball back,and was deservedly booked, which means he misses a game now coz of his 5 yellows. Moyes decided that he didn't want another one of his midfielders with 4 yellows to risk a 5th and so took Pienaar off (much to his displeasure) and brought on Manuel Fernandes, who looked like a lazy git before being knocked over rather easily by his namesake Gelson after which he hobbled around for a while and then was taken off and AJ was brought on.

City rang the changes with Caceido and Castillo coming on one after the other as they searched for that elusive goal. The Yak made a great run down the left and generously tried to feed Cahill whose attempt was cleared nearly off the line by Dunne. Little later, a cross from the left for AJ forced a snapshot from the striker which hit Hart rather than the keeper actually making the save.

A free kick for a foul on the Yak was taken early by Carsley who hit a screamer but Hart saved well to his left. Micah Richards raised his arms to the ball (maybe to applaud our performance) on the edge of the box and was lucky to not concede a penalty (maybe he knew that we are never given any in the league anyways!).

Castillo had a good shot parried by Howard and the rebound was cleared by Jags. Petrov had a cross and a shot saved too in the last few minutes. Petrov duly rounded off the match by being sent off rather harshly by Styles as he poked at Ossie after the ball had gone. Neville's reaction showed how shocking the dismissal was.

A great effort by the lads on a day touted to be a clash of teams vying for a Champions League spot. The team assessment is as follows:

Howard: Few great saves in the game but also flapped at a couple... hope that the mistakes reduce with time.

Hibbert: Thought that he did very well against City again and Petrov might well kick him the next time they meet!

Yobo: Quiet yet effective game is exactly what you want from your centre backs.

Jagielka: Seems to grow in confidence with every game... his tackling, judgment and composure are all improving ? my Man of the Match.

Lescott: Is he a defender or a striker in disguise coz he just keeps scoring goals..good defensive display too.

Neville: Would rather not see him him in the middle of the park giving the ball to the opposition but he was not too bad today. Had a cracking shot on goal too.

Carsley: Wish he hadn't made that challenge for the booking... We will miss him for that one game. I loved his quick free-kick.

Ossie: Had a very good game too; we missed him when he was away.

Pienaar: Buy him, buy him now! This guy is pure gold and he plays his heart out for us. Glad he didn't get booked before being subbed.

Cahill: Seems to be back in form;if he can't score, he at least sets others up for goals.

Yakubu: Dont know what he had when he was away or what Moyes said to him when he came back but whatever it was...that's some good stuff.

Fernandes: One word - Disappointing

Johnson: Worked hard when he came on and almost scored too...looks like he is back in form.

Onto the next game and Pompey at the weekend before heading off to Italy to face Fiorentina in what promises to be a tough tie for us. Then back to the league to face Sunderland... let Vaughan back in for Sunderland with the Yak. I hope Arteta isnt missing too long either. All in all, we keep 4th place and stay a bit ahead of the rabid chasing pack of teams behind us... COYB

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