Mark Hughes started with Adebayor upfront who had “shaken off” his groin strain sustained playing for Togo earlier this week; he was partnered by Bellamy and Robinho in a 4-3-3 formation. Tevez, lacking match practise started on the bench along with De Jong. Wright-Philips, Ireland and Barry made up the midfield, whilst Dunne, Toure, Bridge and Richards were in front of Given in net.
Throughout the first half City were dealing with Rover’s attacks unconvincingly in defence, however City looked to break away quickly and fluently each time they won the ball. 3 minutes in and on a counter attack Wright-Phillips pulled the ball back from just inside the area to Adebayor who struck with power and precision from 18-yards to beat Paul Robinson.
After 10 minutes of City dominance the Blackburn team pulled together and began to over run the midfield, leaving the competitive Barry to stop the Rovers push with numerous last ditch tackles. At the back City looked uncomfortable playing together. There were a number of mix ups between the back line with a number of collisions between players that Blackburn could not take advantage of. It will take a number of matches however before the team really begins to gel – once they do then it is quite clear that City fans will be enjoying a lot of flowing purposeful football.
Rover’s manager Allardyce is clearly correct in targeting a striker to add to the team before the end of the transfer window. Blackburn were unable to convert a number of chances. Steven N’Zonzi had a shot cleared, Jason Roberts smashed over the bar from 12 yards, McCarthy hit a freekick directly at Given who shortly afterwards kept out a Samba header.
City also had their chances with Robinho proving that whilst he can be anonymous for some of the game his contribution can be potentially match winning. Cutting in from the left wing the Brazilian hit a stinging shot that Robinson had to parry over the bar. He was also unlucky half way through the second half but was foiled again as Robinson brilliantly diverted the shot, low to his right.
Carlos Tevez made his competitive debut for City, coming on for Robinho. He too tested Robinson, who again got down low to save.
Blackburn were running out of ideas, the largely ineffective Diouf simply kept standing infront of Given each time Rovers had a freekick. The un-gentlemanly conduct almost paid dividends for Rovers gum munching manager as McCarty’s drive from out side the area whistled over the top right of the net, away from the beaten Given.
Stephen Ireland - Homegrown Superman
Stephen Ireland was to finish any hope for Blackburn fan’s in the last moments of the game. After another inspired break away Ireland found himself confronted by Robinson in the area after another pass from Wright-Phillips – he looked up and feigned to pass to Adebayor before coolly passing the ball into the net past Robinson. Ireland topped off another fine display with a cool finish, leaving the pitch to the sound of the 7,000 strong City travelling fans... “Ireland is Superman”.