Premier League – Bellamy saves point for City at Villa
The last match before the international break was one to savour as former City captain Richard Dunne headed new club Villa into the lead before Craig Bellamy equalised to ensure the two ambitious sides shared the points.
Dunne rose at the far post the head in James Milner‘s corner on 15 minutes, but did not celebrate out of respect to the club for which he made over 350 appearances.
The goal was made extra sweet for Villa fans by the fact that Dunne out-jumped their own former skipper, Gareth Barry, to score his first goal for the club.
Few would have begrudged Dunne the honour of that goal being the winner, but Stephen Ireland came off the bench to have a hand in Bellamy’s equaliser. The midfielder slipped a ball into the path of Emmanuel Adebayor, who pulled it back for Bellamy to lash into the roof of the net midway through the second half.
The result means that City and Villa both move up one place in the table to fourth and seventh respectively.
Barry was given a tough time by his former fans for moving in the opposite direction to Dunne over the summer, especially when he came down to the Holte End to take set pieces.
He almost silenced the home crowd in the closing stages of the first half when his corner was met by Adebayor, but Brad Friedel reacted well to tip the close-range header over the bar.
That chance proved the best to fall to the Togo striker on his return following his three-match suspension for violent conduct in the 4-2 win over Arsenal on September 12. He was only assured of his eligibility for this match on Friday after an FA disciplinary panel gave him a £25,000 fine and suspended two-match ban for his ‘extreme provocation’ of Gunners fans after scoring in the same match.
Carlos Tevez saw plenty of the ball as he roamed in the hole behind Adebayor, but City struggled to find a way in behind the well-organised Villa back line, which remains the meanest in the league along with Chelsea‘s having shipped just six goals.
The Argentine striker twice fired off target from distance before drilling a low effort right at Friedel.
The second half proved as open as the first, with Milner flashing a strike across the face of goal five minutes after the break.
Manchester City manager Mark Hughes made a bold change soon afterwards, swapping defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong for the more attacking Ireland, and the PFA young Player of the Year added an extra dimension to City’s play.
Ashley Young soldiered on until near the end despite picking up a knock in the first half following a clash with de Jong, but his free-kick on the hour almost led to a second for Dunne, who once again beat Barry in the hour only to glance his header wide. After that, Joleon Lescott took over the duty of marking the Irishman.
Roque Santa Cruz – the only one of City’s summer attacking recruits yet to score in his new colours – came on just after Bellamy’s equaliser, with Emile Heskey replacing John Carew at the same time. However, neither side could find a winner on a night that belonged to Dunne.
Tony Mabert / Eurosport