Writer: Tranmere Loyal
Date:Sunday March 13 2011
It is really odd to know the outcome of the draw and the path to the final before you kick off, but today the Blues knew that if the beat Reading, Stretford's finest were waiting along Wembley Way.
Many City fans would have preferred this as the final, with them being convinced that City's trophy drought would end at the hands of their fiercest rivals. Instead it is semi-final day.
Playing the games they are, and Dinamo Kyiv and Chelsea still await City this week, is taking its toll on City and today they toiled and toiled and it looked like nothing would go right.
An odd line-up leaving us a little light on the left and SWP making a desired appearance on the right, City loaded the midfield with the returning de Jong with Vieira alongside. Yaya was to provide the running and the link, Silva was to provide the magic and the bullets.
Richards, Kompany, Lescott and Kolarov were entrusted to keep the door closed and of course Joe Hart to keep it bolted.
In fairness City didn't really look threatended by this hard working Reading side that had already disposed of Everton away and who though that if they got City on a bad day, could probably achieve similar.
They manage to frustrate City and the fans considerably and it looked as though a replay was on the cards.
Tevez couldn't get anything on target, when he did the keeper was up to it. SWP went close and then passed to Tevez when in a good position to have a go himself. In days gone by when his confidence was greater he would probably have scored himself. He 'played for the team' and Tevez fluffed his lines.
Alex was the busier of the goal tenders, cleverly tipping a header by Richards over from Kolarov's corner.
After 69 minutes of hard work by City and harder work by Reading, with City enjoying a high percentage of possession but still not troubling the scorers, Mancini decided to liven the afternoon up and introduce Balotelli.
Five minutes later he forced a corner down the left and from Silva's magical delivery Richard towered above the world and crashed a header into the net which was too hard for Alex who tried hard to keep it out.
I had said that Richards went down through the gears in Kyiv but today he was on the button and that was some goal.
It left Reading with little time to get back into the tie and for once City closed it out.
De Jong was tremendous today and I'm delighted he is back. He sets things up well from his midfield hidey hole, breaking down the opposition and playing good passes be they front, back or sideways.
So now we face United at Wembley. Start counting your tokens!!
Stoke managed to beat the last London team left in the competition especially as Arsenal lived up to their new standards by surrendering against a United team that they should have beaten but who got the luck at the right times. They are on target for the quadruple!!
And Bolton are there too. Please tell me we are not going to beat United and then slip up against either of those. No disrespect to either of them.
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Date:Sunday March 13 2011
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