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Match Report


Posted Sat 15 Aug 09 at 17:03 PM

Report: Rovers 0 Man City 2

A goal at the beginning and the end of the match saw visitors Manchester City claim the points at Ewood.

In the opening game of the 2009/10 season, Rovers got off to the worst possible start when Emmanuel Adebayor fired City in front after just three minutes.

But the home side's heads didn't drop and they laid siege to Shay Given's goal for long periods.

The former Rovers trainee pulled off a stunning save to deny Chris Samba, whilst Benni McCarthy saw an effort cleared off the line.

Steven Nzonzi could have marked his debut with a goal but for a timely tackle from Micah Richards. Jason Roberts fired over when well placed.

Mike Dean then angered the home side when Richard Dunne appeared to stop a Keith Andrews with a hand, but the referee ruled out those shouts.

The second half saw less clear-cut chances, Given denying Jason Roberts from close range, whilst Benni McCarthy lashed a free-kick narrowly over the bar.

But with Rovers pouring men forward it was perhaps inevitable that they would be caught on the break and that proved to be the case when in stoppage time Stephen Ireland wrapped up the game for Mark Hughes' side.

The scoreline was unjust on Rovers, they certainly deserved much more on this showing.

Sam Allardyce gave debuts to Steven Nzonzi in midfield and Lars Jacobsen at right back. Ryan Nelsen's failed fitness test meant the captain's armband was passed to goalkeeper Paul Robinson for the first time.

Ahead of the game a minute of applause for Sir Bobby Robson echoed around Ewood Park, a tribute to the former England manager played on the big screen.

Then it was down to serious duty of Premier League football and in the space of 30 seconds it showed what a fine line there can be.

When on three minutes, Steven Nzonzi showed good strength to win a header and in the process set El Hadji Diouf away on the right, his teasing cross was missed by Morten Gamst Pedersen but not by Benni McCarthy who headed towards goal only for Richard Dunne to clear off his own line.

But in an instance Rovers were a goal behind as City attacked with speed. The ball was quickly sent to Shaun Wright-Phillips and the England winger took on Stephen Warnock, twisting in and out before passing the Rovers defender into the area. He laid the ball on a plate for Emmanuel Adebayor who lashed the ball past Paul Robinson from the edge of the area.

Despite the early setback of going a goal behind Rovers continued to look for ways to get back on level terms.

Inside ten minutes a long throw into the area was kept alive by Chris Samba, steering a high ball back into the six yard box Steven Nzonzi looked to pounce but somehow Micah Richards got their first to clear behind.

The on 18 minutes Chris Samba again turned provider, heading into the path of Jason Roberts, but the new number 9 side-footed the ball over the bar from ten yards.

Giant defender Samba then had decent claims for a penalty kick as he was pushed over in the area by Richards, but Mike Dean waved away his shouts.

Referees and their assistants will no doubt come under the spotlight once again this term, but they certainly didn't do themselves any favours just past the midway point of the half.

A long ball upfield from Paul Robinson caught Shay Given and Richard Dunne in two minds. As the defender clattered into the City 'keeper he spilled the ball but just as Benni McCarthy looked to take advantage of the situation the linesman on the near side flagged for a foul. Quite how, is a mystery.

Benni McCarthy tested Shay Given with a well-struck free-kick but the former Rovers trainee was equal to the South African's efforts.

Rovers continued to press their big spending opponents, Shay Given again keeping the visitors lead in tact with a stunning one-handed save to deny Chris Samba from an El Hadji Diouf corner kick. The Rovers defender meeting the ball powerfully but Given dived to his left to make the stop.

The home side continued to press for a deserved equaliser and came close once again on 37 minutes. Jason Roberts showing pace and strength to get past Richard Dunne in the area, his ball to the edge of the box arrived with McCarthy who brought a save out of Given, the rebound almost fell kindly to Roberts but he couldn't direct the ball goalwards.

Just before half time Rovers had further claims for a penalty waved away when from a Pedersen throw Keith Andrews shot towards goal, the ball struck Richard Dunne at close-range, but Mike Dean waved away the claims from the home players and fans.

It had been an enthralling first half, with Rovers quickly overcoming the shock of going behind so early to dominate for long spells.

As the rain returned at the start of the second half, the game took some time to get going after the restart but when the chances came it was Rovers who created them.

Chris Samba, who had an outstanding game at the back, popped up on the right flank to tackle Adebayor and set El Hadji Diouf away down the flank, his skied cross looked to be heading out of play but Pedersen kept the move alive by heading back in from the byline. Jacobsen eventually centred from the right where Jason Roberts headed goalwards but that man Shay Given was there once again to palm the ball away.

At the other end Robinho tested Robinson with an effort from the corner of the area in a rare City attack.

Franco Di Santo was given his Ewood bow with 25 minutes remaining, whilst Paul Gallagher and Junior Hoilett were also second half substitutes.

As the game entered the closing stages Benni McCarthy went the closest for Rovers with a bullet free-kick that whistled narrowly over the bar.

With Rovers pressing more and more men forward in a bid to grab an equaliser they were always susceptible to the counter attack, and so that proved to be when with two minutes of added time a slide rule pass from Shaun Wright-Phillips found Stephen Ireland racing through, he drew Paul Robinson out towards the ball but took his time before picking his spot low into the left corner of the goal.

The second goal was harsh on Rovers, they had worked tirelessly throughout, creating a host of chances, but strong defending and an excellent goalscoring display from former Rover Shay Given came between them and the home side registering points on the opening day.

ROVERS: Robinson (c), Jacobsen, Samba, Givet, Warnock; Diouf (sub Hoilett 86 mins), Nzonzi, Andrews (sub Gallagher 75 mins), Pedersen; McCarthy, Roberts (sub Di Santo 65 mins).

Subs: Brown (GK), Grella, Khizanishvili, Olsson.

MAN CITY: Given, Richards, Bridge, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Robinho (sub Tevez 69 mins), Barry, Dunne, Adebayor, Toure, Bellamy.

Subs: Taylor (GK), Onuoha, Zabaleta, Petrov, De Jong, Weiss.

Booked: Warnock, Gallagher (Rovers), Richards (Man City)

Attendance: 29,584

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