Manchester City humiliated Manchester United in a 6-1 victory as the visitors opened up a five point gap at the top of the Premier League table. Braces from Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko as well as strikes from Sergio Aguero and David Silva put Sir Alex Ferguson’s men to the sword while a stunning consolation from Darren Fletcher proved futile. The Manchester City statistics cannot be disputed because after weathering the early storm from their hosts, they tore them to shreds and the scoreline fairly reflects that.
The hosts kicked-off in a much brighter fashion to their big-spending rivals as they dominated possession early on. Ashley Young in particular was proving to be a thorn in Manchester City’s defence but the home side couldn’t unlock their rearguard as Wayne Rooney and Anderson were restricted to long-range efforts.
However in the 22nd minute against the run of play, the visitors grabbed the lead. James Milner collected Sergio Aguero’s incisive pass and the Englishman pulled it back for Balotelli, who passed it precisely into David de Gea’s bottom left corner. Ferguson’s men were jolted by conceding as Roberto Mancini’s men finally got a foothold on proceedings and began to enjoy long spells of possession themselves but there were no significant chances before the end of the first half.
Within a minute of the restart, Manchester United’s day got worse as Jonny Evans hauled Balotelli down on the edge of the box. The Northern Irish defender received a red card since he was last man back and their defence never got to grips with their cross-city rivals since then.
Balotelli doubled City’s lead on the hour mark when he converted Milner’s cross as Patrice Evra’s indiscipline was exposed at the back. Micah Richards and Sergio Aguero combined to complete the same feat down the right flank as the right-back’s back post cross was converted by the Argentine attacker to make it 3-0 to City.
However with nine minutes left, Darren Fletcher produced a stunning 25-yard curling effort that found Joe Hart’s top left corner as hopes of a United comeback materialised. But nothing was going to take this day away from the FA Cup holders as Edin Dzeko kneed in Joleon Lescott’s cross in the 90th minute to make the scoreline 4-1.
The Premier League champions defence disintegrated further in injury time when David Silva was allowed to ghost though their sieve-like defence and slot the ball under the helpless de Gea. There was still time for Dzeko to snatch a sixth as he latched onto Silva’s sublime pass and calmly slotted past the young Spanish ‘keeper once again.
The crushing defeat of Manchester United puts a chasm between the two sides as Man City are now five points clear of them in the race for the Premier League title with a vastly superior goal difference of +26, 12 more than their championship rivals. The size of the win will have a long-term positive psychological effect on Macini’s squad as a powershift looks on the cards in the city of Manchester.
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For this week’s classic match, we go back to 17th December 2005 and Birmingham’s visit to Eastlands. City were without top scorer Andy Cole and Robbie Fowler and Bradley Wright-Phillips on the bench. But Stuart Pearce’s men still didn’t struggle against a Birmingham side who were already threatened by relegation.
It was a late evening kick off but the blues quickly gave the supporters something to cheer about. Straight from the start, Darius Vassell received the ball and tried his luck from the edge of the box but Birmingham keeper Nico Vaesen tipped his shot away. But from the resulting corner, a scramble in the penalty followed and the ball fell kindly to David Sommeil, who hammered home after just 42 seconds.
City began to dominate the game and it looked like it would be a repeat of City’s 60- triumph in 2001 when Joey Barton scored form the spot after just 14 minutes. Vassell’s run into the box was ended by unceremoniously by Vaesen and Barton stepped up to blast the penalty home.
The game was effectively wrapped up on 40 minutes as Antoine Sibierski met Barton’s free kick to send the blues in at half time with a comfortable lead.
Half Time: City 3-0 Birmingham
City continued to make chances after the break with Barton at the centre of it all. His free kick was just missed by Trevor Sinclair while another cross eluded Vassell. It was obvious City would score again and it came in the form of Bradley Wright-Phillips. The substitute, on for Vassell only moments earlier, ran on to Sibierski’s knock-down and easily slotted past Vaesen for number four.
City pressed and continued to spurn chances but it was Birmingham who scored the final goal of the afternoon. Jiri Jarosik scoring form close range to give the visiting supporters something to cheer about.
That was as good as it got for Birmingham as in the final minute, Vaesen was sent off. Already booked for conceding the penalty earlier, Vaesen handled outside the area and referee Steve Bennett had no option but to dismiss the keeper and a miserable day for Birmingham was compounded.
Final Score: City 4-1 Birmingham
City: James, Sommeil, Onuoha, Distin, Thatcher, Sinclair, Barton, Reyna (Fowler 71), Jihai, Sibierski (Ireland 84), Vassell (Wright-Phillips 68).
Subs Not Used: Croft, Jordan.
Birmingham: Vaesen, Tebily (Forssell 23), Upson, Cunningham, Painter, Johnson, Butt, Clemence, Clapham, Pandiani (Jarosik 73), Dunn (Pennant 35).
Subs Not Used: Maik Taylor, Heskey.
The 2003-04 season was a poor one as far as City fans were concerned. It had been a long, hard battle against relegation which had included a 13 match winless run.
But by the time Everton had arrived at Eastlands, the blues were safe and two points behind the visitors in 17th place. Robbie Fowler had been left on the bench and replaced by Paolo Wanchope and the Costa Rican repaid his manager’s faith after 16 minutes.
Nicolas Anelka’s free kick was deflected into Wanchope’s path and he made no mistake from just 6 yards out. City were dominant and Shaun Wright-Phillips almost got a second but for the heroics of Nigel Martyn in the Everton goal.
But City weren’t to be denied and when Claudio Reyna was allowed space on the left, it was only going to end one way. His cross was missed by Anelka but Wanchope was on hand to seep the ball home for his fourth goal in three games.
Ten minutes later and it was game over and again it was Wanchope who was involved. His ball forward released Anelka and the French striker beat Martyn from 18 yards out and send City into the break three goals to the good.
Half Time: City 3-0 Everton
Kevin Campbell came on for the ineffective James McFadden for Everton at half time and it took him 15 minutes to get on the scoresheet. Wayne Rooney’s corner was met by the head of Campbell to reduce the deficit.
But City continued their dominance of the game and Martyn had to be at his best to twice deny Wanchope his hat-trick with a superb display of goalkeeping.
Joey Barton, who had previously been booked, was replaced by Antoine Sibierski with five minutes remaining and the Frenchman took three minutes to score and in a grandstand finish, Wright-Phillips scored the fifth and ended a miserable season with a fine won that took the blues above the visitors and finished in 16th place.
Final Score: City 5-1 Everton
Man City: James, Jihai, Distin, Dunne, Tarnat, Wright-Phillips, Barton (Sibierski 85), Bosvelt, Reyna (Jordan 82), Anelka, Wanchope (Macken 79).
Subs Not Used: Arason, Fowler.
Everton: Martyn, Watson (Chadwick 71), Stubbs, Weir, Hibbert, Carsley, McFadden (Campbell 45), Yobo, Osman, Rooney, Radzinski (Linderoth 86).
Subs Not Used: Wright, Clarke.
It was August 2005. City’s prized asset Shaun Wright-Phillips had just moved to Chelsea for a record incoming fee of £21m and City had replaced him with the ageing Andy Cole and the lightning fast yet erratic Darius Vassell.
The blues had made a decent start to the season, with one draw and a win while Sunderland had lost their opening two games and it already looked like being a long, hard season for the Black Cats.
The blues took the lead after just ten minutes through Vassell, who never lost a game in which he scored for City. Future bad-boy Joey Barton played a superb ball to Vassell who slotted past Kelvin Davis to score his first gaol for the blues. It had been coming as the blues had dominated the opening exchanges, with Cole forcing Davis into a third minute save.
Sunderland’s French striker Anthony Le Tallec then had a golden opportunity to level on 22 minutes but fired straight at David James in the City goal. Minutes later, the same man opted to head a cross that would have been easier to kick as it was so close to the ground. Had he opted to use his foot it would almost certainly have meant a Sunderland equaliser.
His mistake was compounded ten minutes later when Trevor Sinclair made it 2-0 with a fine curling strike with his right foot which eluded Davis and sent the visiting City fans dreaming of a place at the top of the table by 4.45 that afternoon.
But, in true style, City allowed the home side back into the game and leave the fans on tenterhooks, Le Tallec heading above Richard Dunne to pull a goal back.
Half Time: Sunderland 1-2 City
The blues should have scored a third after the interval after Sinclair played in Cole but Davis was again equal to it and made another fine save.
Sunderland pushed forward in search of an equaliser and Julien Arca had a free-kick brilliantly tipped away by James while Jonathan Stead threw away the chance to score his first Sunderland goal after failing to connect at the near post.
Dean Whitehead had Sunderland’s final chance to equalise but his header flew narrowly wide as Sunderland pressed the blues.
In the end, it was another defeat for Mick McCarthy but Stuart Pearce’s first full season as City manager had got off to a flying start.
Full Time: Sunderland 1-2 City
Sunderland: Davis, Nosworthy, Stubbs, Breen, Arca, Whitehead, Miller, Welsh, Elliott, Gray (Stead 45), Le Tallec (Lawrence 82).
Subs Not Used: Robinson, Caldwell, Joe Murphy.
Man City: James, Mills, Dunne, Jordan (Onuoha 75), Thatcher, Sinclair, Barton, Reyna, Musampa (Jihai 80), Cole, Vassell.
Subs Not Used: De Vlieger, Sibierski, Wright-Phillips.
They had played each other three times already in the 1987/88 season and Plymouth must have been sick of the sight of Maine Road when they were drawn together for the fifth round tie and the opportunity to progress to the quarter finals.
The blues had already won 2-1 at Maine Road on the opening day of the season and thrashed them 6-2 when the Pilgrims arrived in November, just days after City had hammered ten past Huddersfield, while in the league at Home Park, Coty had led 2-0 at the break but Plymouth had fought back to win the game 3-2.
The visitors had brought a good following to Maine Road as Plymouth attempted to stop the blues reaching their second quarter final of the season, following their League Cup quarter Final exit at Everton a few weeks earlier.
But the visiting fans heads dropped when Ian Scott gave the blues the lead after dominating possession in the first half. City had created a few chances but Scott’s header in front of the Platt Lane end gave City a lead they kept until half time
In the second half, City threatened to run riot with Plymouth hardly in the game and it seemed like Mel Machin’s men wanted to inflict a heavy defeat on the team that had beaten them in the early part of the year.
Paul Simpson, as he had been for most of the season, was a constant threat down the left hand side and he almost doubled City’s lead when his run and left foot shot cannoned off the upright and away to safety.
But Simpson was not to be denied. Making a similar run, the winger again darted into the box and, in exactly the same position, thumped his shot beyond the Plymouth keeper and made it 2-0.
But within minutes, the Pilgrims were back in the game. City failed to clear a corner and suddenly the score was 2-1. With the visiting supporter’s encouragement, Plymouth pressed for an equaliser which would mean a replay at Home Park. In the dying minutes, Plymouth won a corner and sent everyone forward apart from the keeper.
City cleared the ball to a waiting Simpson, who ran almost the entire length of the field but hit his shot against the keeper. The rebound though fell kindly to City sub Paul Moulden, who gratefully buried the rebound and secured City’s quarter final appearance against Liverpool.
Final Score: City 3-1 Plymouth
Our classic match takes us back to October 2003 and Bolton’s visit to Eastlands. The blues had moved to their new stadium in August but had only recorded one win until Wanderers arrived and took a pounding.
After a good start to the season, City just couldn’t seem to perform at home and when Kevin Nolan opened the scoring after 25 minutes, it looked like being another drab day at Eastlands. But no-one quite realised what drama was to follow.
Bolton had started brightly and took the lead after Stelios Giannakopolous’ shot was blocked but Nolan was on hand to poke the ball home. The lead only lasted two minutes as Shaun Wright-Phillips chipped Jussi Jaaskelainen to level the scores.
SWP was booked for taking his shirt of to celebrate, much to the annoyance of blues supporters. Ivan Campo then missed a great chance to put Bolton 2-1 up and it looked like it was going to be a tight affair as half time approached with the scores deadlocked. How wrong could one be?
Half Time: City 1-1 Bolton
Within the first few minutes, the City were ahead. Sylvain Distin scoring in the 48th minute but eight minutes later brought the start of six minutes of madness.
First, SWP grabbed his second of the game to send City 3-1 up and two minutes later, Nicolas Anelka grabbed his first of the game before Campo scored little more than a consolation goal for Bolton on 60 minutes.
Two minutes later, SWP was sent off for a second bookable offence but Bolton couldn’t take advantage of the extra man. Anelka grabbed his second on 72 minutes before American Claudio Reyna completed the scoring on 84 minutes.
It was a thumping victory for the blues but it was to prove their last until February 2004.
Full Time: City 6-2 Bolton
Man City: Seaman, Jihai, Sommeil, Distin, Tarnat, Wright-Phillips, Barton (Dunne 75), Reyna, McManaman (Sibierski 57), Anelka, Fowler (Tiatto 68).
Subs Not Used: Stuhr-Ellegaard, Wanchope.
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, N’Gotty, Thome (Little 79), Charlton, Gardner, Nolan, Okocha, Campo, Frandsen (Jardel 54), Giannakopoulos, Davies.
Subs Not Used: Poole, Barness, Pedersen.
There have been so few matches between City and Hull that a classic game is hard to come by, so we will just have to settle for last season’s game. Over the years, the blues have been notoriously poor against newly promoted sides and Mark Hughes’ squad was looking to put an end to that particular statistic at Hull.
The home team had achieved some fantastic results already but both teams had lost their previous three games. Despite City displaying talents such as Robinho and Shaun Wright-Phillips in the team, Hull went into the game as favourites for the three points.
Richard Dunne was suspended for City and Robinho took over the captain’s armband and it was the Brazilian who almost gave City the lead in the opening minutes when the blues won a free kick in the Hull danger area, but his shot was weak and it went harmlessly wide.
However, the home side took the lead in the 14th minute, thanks to a defensive error by Tal Ben-Haim. The Israeli received a pass from Micah Richards but, with Hull’s forward’s quickly closing down the space, scuffed his backpass and allowed Daniel Cousin stole in to stab the ball past Joe Hart in the City goal. Soon after the goal, Hart was injured and replaced Kasper Schmeichel.
Parity was restored to the scoreline in almost the same fashion as Hull’s opener. Instead of clearing his lines and belting the ball into Row Z, Kamil Zayatte decided to run the pall across his own penalty area but lost control and the ball fell nicely for Stephen Ireland to slot the ball into an empty net.
Eight minutes later on the stroke of half-time, Ireland struck again. Javier Garrido cut the ball back for Ireland who took one touch before curling the ball past Myhill in the Hull goal to put the blues ahead and a half time lead.
Half time: Hull 1-2 City
Former City star Goevanni’s volley went over the bar as Hull tried to gain some impetus in the game and they got their reward on the hour mark. Winning a free kick on the edge of the area, the Brazilian’s shot deflected of Vincent Kompany to make it 2-2.
Both teams went for the win after that goal with Schmeichel saving well from a Cousin header while at the other end Darius Vassell somehow missed an open goal and wasted another opportunity near the end when he shot straight at Myhill.
In the end, both teams settled for a point which ended their respective three match losing run.
Full Time: Hull 2-2 City
Hardly a classic but it’s the best we could do. Sorry.
It was a time of great jubilation for City. A takeover of the club by ADUG would be completed within the following few days and the blues were displaying a wealth of talent which included the Brazilian trio of Robinho, Jo and Elano while the club’s new chairman, Khaldoon Al Muburak was unveiled to the supporters prior to kick off.
The new chairman didn’t have to wait long for City’s first attack of the game. Jo fed his compatriot Robinho, whose curling shot had former City keeper David James at full stretch to stop City from taking an early lead. He didn’t know it at the time but James was in for a busy afternoon.
Ten minutes later, Robinho’s ball released Shaun Wright-Phillips whose shot was blocked by James. The blues had full control of the game and with all the possession City were having, it was only a matter of time before they took the lead.
Jo timed his run to perfection to latch onto Robinho’s pass and the £18m marksman rounded James and slotted home to put City 1-0 up. Portsmouth’s Peter Crouch would rue missing a chance on 20 minutes when he should have headed home as two minutes later, the blues went 2-0 up.
Elano’s corner had James scrambling across to the near post but Richard Dunne got there ahead of him and Sol Campbell to score on his birthday. Joe Hart in the City goal was a mere spectator and should have been tested by Crouch but he fired wide and City went into the break knowing Portsmouth were there for the taking.
Half Time: City 2-0 Portsmouth
It only took the blues 10 second half minutes to put the game beyond reach. Stephen Ireland cleverly lofted the ball over form City defender Sylvain Distin and Jo’s strength got him to the ball and fed Robinho who curled the ball home from 15 yards.
That was game over but the players were eager to impress their new owners. On 65 minutes, City went 4-0 up. Wright-Phillips latched onto Ireland’s superb through ball to hammer past James and score his third goal since his return from Chelsea.
Moments after that goal, Jo was replaced by Ched Evans who didn’t take long to get himself on the scoresheet. Elano’s pass wide found Robinho who’s run and cross was backheeled by Wright-Phillips into the path of Evans who couldn’t miss from ten yards.
And Portsmouth’s misery was completed when James fumbled Javier Garrido’s cross into the path to Gelson Fernandes who knocked the ball into an empty net to complete the rout.
Final Score: City 6-0 Portsmouth
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Richards, Dunne, Garrido, Kompany, Wright-Phillips, Ireland (Gelson 77), Elano, Robinho (Sturridge 85), Jo (Evans 71).
Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Michael Ball, Hamann, Ben-Haim.
Portsmouth: James, Johnson (Pamarot 82), Distin, Campbell, Belhadj, Diarra, Davis (Diop 33), Kaboul (Utaka 46), Armand Traore, Crouch, Defoe.
Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Hreidarsson, Mvuemba, Kanu.