Premier League – City comeback ends poor run



Manchester City got their season back up and running with a 2-1 comeback victory over Tottenham Hotspur at the City of Manchester Stadium.

FOOTBALL; Stephen Ireland, Elano, Manchester City, March 2008 - 0



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Robbie Keane gave Spurs the lead with a superbly-taken shot on the turn, but City came roaring back after the break with goals from Stephen Ireland and Nedum Onuoha.

It was only the third league win of 2008 for Sven Goran Eriksson’s men, who had slipped from fourth in the table in recent weeks on the back of a poor run since the turn of the year.

Keane had a fine early chance to give Spurs the lead when he turned Nedum Onuoha close to the dead-ball-line, although his shot from a tight angle flew just wide of the far post.

After that moment, City – who were boosted by captain Richard Dunne passing a fitness test on his injured shin – enjoyed the more promising moments of the first half, with Elano and Nery Castillo showing neat touches in the space behind.

That was, until Keane put Spurs in front. Vedran Corluka‘s missed interception allowed Pascal Chimbonda an acre of space to run into down the Spurs left; the full-back bided his time before picking out Keane inside him, the striker lashing a first-time, left-footed effort inside the far post, his 21st goal of the season.

City responded well, the excellent Michael Johnson setting Castillo free on the right – but with no one in support, he was forced to to shoot at goal from a narrow angle and only found the side-netting.

The home side thought they should have earned a penalty when Michael Dawson blocked Johnson’s shot with his elbow, before Elano’s left-footed strike forced Paul Robinson into a diving save as the hosts stepped up the tempo.

Castillo had another chance seconds before the break when he burst clear of the defence, but he delayed his shot as he tried to work the ball back on to his favoured left foot, and Chimbonda got back to tackle.

Mexico international Castillo – only recently back from a dislocated shoulder – had another fine chance at the start of the second half when Benjani picked him out at the near post with a cut-back, but Robinson blocked his effort after he had worked half-a-yard of space.

However, Castillo did finally play a role in City’s eventual equaliser just before the hour, his mis-hit volley from Benjani’s cross being headed goalwards by Elano, Ireland scuffing the ball past Robinson from six yards out as City earned reward for a fine start to the second period.

Spurs coach Juande Ramos opted to bring Darren Bent on to replace Keane, who took the decision badly, shaking his head as he left the field before throwing his jacket to the ground in an open display of dissent.

And just 12 minutes later, City were in front, Nedum Onouha getting between three Spurs defenders at Elano’s corner to power a header past a static Robinson and score his first goal for the club.

Spurs came back strongly in the final stages as they searched for an equaliser, and will feel aggreived that Bent’s goal was disallowed when he prodded home a Jamie O’Hara free-kick, the effort wrongly chalked off for Berbatov supposedly being offside at the back post.

But City hung on to record their first win at home in three months, making Eriksson’s meeting with club owner Thaksin Shinawatra this week a little easier.