Capital One Cup - Third Round
Hi and welcome to the Etihad. You join us here today for the Capital One Cup third round match between Manchester City and England FC. This is considered by most to be the first real challenge for fledgling manager Alan Shearer and could well help many football fans decide if the controversial decision by the FA to create a club side was a good one or not.
City look to be set up with their familiar 433 formation with Negredo up front. Jovetic, Agūero and Nasri sit just behind him with Rodwell and Touré holding the middle of the park. A back four of Townsend, Lescott, Garcia and Milner will be the final line of defence for Pantilimon who has more than capably stepped into the number one slot since Hart's departure in the summer.
England will use their now familiar asymmetric 424 formation. Danny Welbeck and Rickie Lambert, who have both been in fine form so far this season, will lead the pack with Wilshere and Walcott on the wings. Lampard sits in the middle and just off to the right with Carrick in a more defensive midfield position over to the left. Baines, Ferdinand, Jones and a first team start for Clyne will be aiming to prevent the frightening attacking strength of the Blues from getting through to Hart who returns to the City of Manchester Stadium for the first time since taking his central contract offer.
This should be an entertaining match if nothing else.
Only five minutes in to the match, a strong attack by City resulted in a corner, Lambert cleared it to Wilshere near the edge of the box who ran the entire length of the pitch to put Welbeck through, but Danny could only pass it directly to their keeper which resulted in a Milner clearance for a corner.
The corner was cleared to Wilshere who linked up beautifully with Baines and Carrick to threaten the Man City goal but there was no way through and the ball was eventually cleared to Negredo on the half way line who started a dangerous counter attack foiled only by a superb tackle by Baines who had tracked back to the England penalty box. The resulting corner failed to threaten.
A low free-kick to the centre of the penalty box took City by surprise enough for Welbeck to turn and fire off a precise finish that beat Pantilimon giving England an early lead and sending the travelling fans into rapture.
After a quiet spell, a City throw looked dangerous as Townsend linked up with Agūero but an attempted through-ball was beautifully cleared by an outstretched Carrick.
But the clearance couldn't be capitalised on by Lambert and before long the ball was back in the England half, only a great save from Hart prevented the equaliser.
There followed a period of pressure that England struggled to cope with. City were desperate to get that equaliser before the half time whistle went but were unable to take advantage of their dominance.
At the start of the second half a quick counter attack saw Lambert slide the ball through for Walcott.
Welbeck had all the time in the world to curl the ball around an outstretched Pantilimon from the edge of the box. A two goal lead for the fledgling England FC team.
A huge throw by Pantilimon to the half-way line allowed a surprise attack by Man City to penetrate deep into the England half, only a huge leap by Ferdinand to head the ball clear prevents the inevitable goal. The defensive efforts still couldn't stop City from piling on the pressure and only poor finishing kept England's lead intact.
There followed a series of attacks by Man City and each time they came forward the attempted finish came closer to finding the mark. A clear chance by Townsend was only denied by a great save from Hart which pushed the ball onto the post and out for a corner.
Yet another corner for Man City, this time an attempted lob by Touré from the edge of the box forced an acrobatic save from Hart, however the stranded keeper had no time to recover as the ball fell to Dzeko who couldn't miss from three yards out. Was a come back on the cards?
Only five minutes later and a poorly aimed goal-kick allows another attack from Man City. This time with Silva surging down the City left wing to loop in a precise ball to the waiting Dzeko who gets his second of the game from close range. At 2-2 with only 10 minutes left the match was really about to come alive.
Despite some last minutes attempts by both teams the match would go to extra time to decide the winner.
Despite City started the half with the same momentum from earlier it would be England who threatened first. Sturridge sprinted into the Blue's penalty box before unleashing a powerful but ultimately wild shot. However, Shearer had clearly made some changes to his tactics as England began to pile on the pressure themselves. A throw resulted in a great run from Wilshere deep into the City box and only a well timed tackle from Milner prevented a sure attempt on goal. Milner's tackle however only pushed the ball into Lampard's path who didn't waste the chance to fire it into the back of the Man City net. 3-2 England FC!
Things should have gone from bad to worse for City 10 minutes later as another tackle only served to supply an England player with the ball. This time Jack Wilshere from only three yards out couldn't miss but was denied by an amazing save by Pantilimon who managed to reverse direction, cover half of his goal and get down low to the ground in the space of a heartbeat. Simply fantastic goal keeping.
There was some real fire in the City team at the start of the second half of extra time, and combined with some slow and patient build up play in the midfield it was more than England could handle. Within the space of a minute Dzeko had unleashed a shot that the England keeper could only parry into the path of Nasri who, despite a desperate lunge by Clyne, couldn't fail to put into the back of the net past a, yet again, sprawled Hart.
The game became a real tense and nervy affair following the equaliser with neither team wanting to overcommit and face a counter attack. It looked like the plan was to play for penalties and hope for the best. A misplaced pass in midfield however gave England an opportunity to push forward and it was one that Theo Walcott wasn't going to waste. He cut inside the penalty box and drove the ball low and hard. Pantilimon did brilliantly again to get to it but the power of the strike took it past him and he could only watch as it was deflected high and into the goal off the underside of the bar. With only 10 minutes to go England FC had taken the lead once again. Despite cries for offside, the linesman's flag stayed down, 4-3 England.
Manchester City couldn't afford to sit back on their laurels now, they had to get another goal and soon. Tired legs all over the pitch made for ideal conditions for a late surging attack from a goal kick. Quick fire midfield passes and an unseen run by Samir Nasri almost gave them their just rewards but his attempted lob was too low and a grateful Joe Hart easily snatched the ball out of the air.
There was nothing left in the tank for either side and the rest of the match played out without incident. City were beaten despite looking the better side for large portions of the match but it was England who progressed today, and thoroughly deserved the win. Defensively they were dubious at times but magnificent in general and one thing is for sure, it is a match that neither group of fans will forget in a long time, a simply great game of football here today.
MotM - Edin Dzeko (Manchester City)