Date: 28th December 2007 at 12:38pm
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Man City fans will no doubt be cursing Santa this Christmas after he stole their 100% home league record with a dramatic late equaliser on Thursday night.

As I politely accompanied the family to panto, such is our annual tradition, I kept a keen eye on events at Eastlands courtesy of the wonder of technology. Alas, I couldn`t believe what was unfolding in that bizarre three minutes in the first half, but embarrassingly found myself cheering Santa Cruz as the cast belted out a chorus of ‘Celebrate tonight`!

Mark Hughes once again re-shuffled his defensive line with Bruno Berner making his first start of the season in place of the suspended Stephen Warnock. Also returning was Chris Samba.

The game opened with signs of a Christmas hang-over evident. Too many players appeared to have over-indulged in Turkey especially Zurab Khizanishvili at right-back. Not the quickest of defenders on the best of days but when he was given the duty of nullifying the fleet footed, rocket propelled boots of Martin Petrov he was horribly exposed on no less than three occasions in the first half.

The first, which in turn created the first real opening of the game, saw Petrov exploit the gaping space at right-back to deliver a perfect low cross for an unmarked Rolando Bianchi to tap in. Alas, in true slapstick pantomime tradition the haphazard side-kick failed to deliver.

Rovers` goal was blessed but there is a saying that goes once is a mistake, twice is just stupid. Well having learnt nothing from Petrov`s last foray it was inevitable the opener would come from that source. It duly arrived moments later.

Again Petrov broke this time his cross was headed into an empty net by Darius Vassell.

However, Rovers did wake up and Santa Cruz stole a march on his marker to glance home a pinpoint Bentley cross from the left.

The plot was nicely established at this point with Santa happy to play the villain in this contemporary Christmas panto tale.

Yet Nelson the clown had his input just 60 seconds after Rovers` equaliser, comically putting through his own net on 27 minutes following another explosive break from Petrov. In many ways he was a tad unlucky as he did his utmost to divert the ball around the post instead slotting it home.

The remainder of the half was played out at a canter with neither side creating any sufficient openings.

However, a half-time re-shuffle saw Benni McCarthy emerge from the dressing room in place of Zurab Khizanishvili with Brett Emerton reverting back to full back.

Rovers showed a keener attacking instinct in the second period but despite enjoying large quantities of possession they couldn`t create any clear openings. In fact it was City who looked the more like scoring with substitute Elano demonstrating wonderful technical ability to chest control a high ball before volleying at goal, all in a single movement.

Rovers were being stretched by City`s counter attack skill but lacklustre finishing brought more than a few laughs from a packed auditorium. Then came the controversial moment that once again confirmed Santa Cruz`s status as the bad guy. He headed home at the near post following a whipped ball into the area by Bentley. The goal stood despite David Dunn being in an offside position and trying to head the ball.

Initially the referee`s assistant had raised his flag but referee Howard Webb over-ruled the decision and the goal stood thus bringing an end to City`s unbeaten home run in the Premiership this season.

Player Ratings

Friedel 6
Out of position for both goals but exposed.

Berner 6
Got his angles all wrong for the opener.

Khizanishvili 5
A top centre-back, a much lesser full-back.

Nelsen 6
Struggling at the moment, compounded by the own goal. Did make an awesome tackle late on though.

Samba 6
Is shrinking in stature at the moment.

Emerton 6
Failed to provide much.

Gamst 6
Got stuck in but we are still waiting for his form to return to him…and it will.

Dunn 6
Worked tirelessly once more but needs to show more creative spark.

Reid 7
He’s getting there.

Bentley 8
Set up both goals and is the single creative spark at the moment. A determined lad who keeps improving.

Santa Cruz 9
Two brilliant headers. Let’s hope he can continue this form.

McCarthy 6
Fails to have an impact but he is a top player so his form should return.

Tugay 5
Let sub but missed a sitter.
No time for an impact.


12 Replies to “Man City 2v2 Rovers”

  • I think we deserved a point and I just hope this spells an up-turn in form now. We have to beat Derby on Sunday to kick on and build another unbeaten run. Although we need to start seeing some more goals scored elsewhere other than Roque. WHAT A LEGEND though!

  • I suppose sitter is a slightly flambuoyant way of saying he could have won but with a little more composure. Cheers though sas.

  • lol well you do have a point, he had the ball at his feet, normally he buries the it in the back of the net whilst the ball is coming at him in the air lol

  • ithought samba played really well, better than Nelsen, i think Pedersen deserved a higher mark but apart from that ive got to agree with you.

  • I didn’t watch the game, so my input here is useless. However, I have to say that over recent weeks, Samba’s performances have been on the decline. When Zurab played centre half against Chelsea, he looked composed and confident. A good arguement to give the Wall a rest, and let the Monk carry with proceedings. (I was trying to think of some religous innuendo, but due to lack of sleep and alcohol soaked liver, I’m not quick enough!)

  • Well..I must say that the lack of creativity that the team has is very worrying! Bentley seems to be the only one who knows what to do with the ball on his feet; Dunn runs a lot with no ideas, Gamst should take advantage of his hability to do more than throwing crosses! Tugay should play more time. This team has a huge potential…they just have to wake up! Go RO(QUE)VERS!

  • brad out of position for the two goals? i dont know both times he had to go front post to stop the potential shot that was my reading of it! diego is right with his dunn comment loads of runnin but not a lot at the end of it! thought gamst did well at times but fluffed a cross at one stage that infuriated me! i also thought havin benni on in thesecond half troubled city more than bentley it looked to easy for them to defend against us in open play when bents is upfront! benni didnt get the service second half either! other than that spot on i also agree bout reid fror the most part he looked quite good his passin was neat and tidy!

  • a good point for you lads – had to laugh at Sven remarking he didn’t understand the offside law, how many other laws doesn’t he comprehend?

  • you have a good squad that could become the party pooper of the prem lge i am counting on you guys to get points of teams like man u and arsenal switch off against chelsea. what a bargain santa cruz. santaclause really gave you guys a good early christmas present. same thing with benni. i want to know hughes secret of getting this quality player without sweating millions.

  • i think the secret is that we simply dont have the millions to spend. THis means that he actually has to look into other leagues and scout the lower leagues of random countries to get talented players i.e nelsen and samba. we cant afford to sign famous or well known players

  • We are overreacting lads. Brad had no chance with either goal and Samba played much better than suggested. Gamst was terrible fair enough but reid and dunn turned in very solid second half showings. One final point, apart from the own goal which he cannot be blamed for at all… Ryan was as solid as a rock and made some blinding blocks. Take it from someone who was there.

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