Writer: Tranmere Loyal
Date:Wednesday May 11 2011
Which England Centre Forward scored two goals in two seasons,in the same net and guaranteed two different teams Champions League Football?
Will that be in next weeks pub quiz or next year's Trivial Pursuits?
For one Peter Crouch it is this morning's reality.
Roberto Mancini last night accomplished the task that the Abu Dhabi paymasters charged him with and finally delivered the promised land of Champions League football to Eastlands.
The fashion in which it was achieved was not pretty, but as discussed yesterday once again City eked out a one goal win in a match that Spurs had worked hard to try and win for themselves.
The Lily-white flag was very much under wraps as an injury shorn Tottenham side came out to play. City set off in determined mood with Silva at the centre of everything that was good and Dzeko restored to the front line leaving Balotelli restingup onthe bench and Tevez chomping at the bit to get on.
And in the early exchanges the gilt-edged opportunity landed at Dzeko's door. Clean through and the goal at his mercy he hammered the ball into the outcoming Cudicini and once again the chance was lost.
In the early stages Spurs tactics looked tailor-made for the onlooking Tony Pulis as from just about anywhere in the field of play they balloonned the ball in the general direction of Crouch who was clearly tasked with setting one up for Van der Vaart or even Modric. However just before the half hour it was Lennon who unlocked City's defence with a smart pass to the unseen Modric who inexplicably steered his chance wide from around 15 yards. A let off for City with Hart struggling.
Spurs generosity knew no bounds as shortly thereafter a quick short corner between Milner and Johnson ended with a low cross from Milner and turning back the clock 12 months,standing in almost an identical position was Peter Crouch. He did what all good strikers do - he stuck out a leg and diverted the ball into the back of the net. On this occasion his own net.
Eastlands erupted, the Poznan got under way and it was party time..for a while.
Spurs had to take up and even greater challenge now, but insisted on playing high balls into the City area which Kompany, Richards and Lescott looked to have in the bag. Indeed VK was outstanding all night. The zone system which sees the nearest man pick up the nearest man often pitched Zabaleta, conceding a foot in height against Crouch, but it just about worked.
Heading for the half-time chat, City looked in good shape with Europe's top sides well in their sights.
Spurs came out for the second half in a very determined frame of mind and for the first 15 minutes I don't think City had the ball, or at least did not put two passes together. We were made to look static as Spurs ran willingly , showed for the ball and did everything but score. In amongst this was an astonishing point blank save from Joe Hart which showed Shay Given why he is planted on the subs bench. And just as at Wembley last month this proved to be just about every bit as important as Crouch's first half contribution.
But it signalled a nervy time for City. Starved of possession, at one time was it 72-28% in Spurs favour, City often back-tracked, but once again came out unscathed in terms of goals against.
Zabaleta however did not come out of a rather naughty challenge by Crouch unscathed though. With the Spurs big-man getting nothing all night except an own goal, he clearly threw out an elbow and Pablo's nose was all over his face to the extent that he had to withdraw from combat.
I am amazed Mike Dean missed that and took no action. He is a referee who generally applies the game's laws impeccably but he missed out on this one or Crouch's night could have been one of an o.g. and a red card.
So Mancini had to replace Zaba's combative skills with the unimpressive Kolarov and this renewed Spurs endeavours. Lennon worked hardto get into the game and an equaliser looked inevitable.
But as I've said before, City are made of sterner stuff these days. With Tevez practically foaming at the mouth to get one to prove his fitness for the Cup Final, Mancin withdrew Johnson and sent on ....Vieira. Tevez went nuts but at last City started to see the ball with Vieira mastefuly starting to break up their play and feed the hitherto annonymous Yaya Toure out wide right. Time and again he now stormed past the Spurs right hand side and one such occasion set up Silva who slipped as he met the ball and that chance went away.
Tevez once again showed his beligerence towards Mancini and probaqbly cemented his place on the Cup Final bench. He finally got the last ten minutes plus five minutes stoppage time and even then almost made it 2-0.
City limped to the final whistle and to take their acclaim from the success starved adoring fans who Blue Mooned and Poznaned to their heart's content. The only concern was seeing Silva's legs with ice bags taped to them. Pulis had taken leave just as Tevez was being introduced. Exceptional performance tonight from Silva and Kompany and Hart. Richards looked good and back to fitness and a resonable shift put in by most things sky-blue.
So Mission One is in the bag and the focus turns to trying to outwit Stoke and bring home the FA Cup on Saturday. I didn't see any new injury worries and as one or two players clearly took a bit of a breather last night we should be fighting fit for Saturday. We will need to be.
We still gave away too much possession and too many dead ball situations around our penalty area. Stoke will try to exploit this on Saturday.
But last was about City, it was about a fantastic achievement for this football club, a target attainment for a manager placed under extraordinary pressures never previously seen in English Football and it was about telling the footballing world that Manchester City has arrived onto the big stage.
The stadium was buzzing with rumours of two huge signings in the offing, although some cynics suggested that Redknapp started those. So it looks like Messi and Ronaldo for us boys!!
And when we get back from Wembley and see that Arsenal have surrendered more points against Aston Villa, we can win our next two matches and finish third. Dreamland will finally become reality.
The next Ped Report will be after Wembley. Enough said.
Date:Wednesday May 11 2011
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