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Match Report


Posted Sat 11 Sep 10 at 17:02 PM

Report: Man City 1 Rovers 1

Rovers picked up their first points on the road this season with a hard fought draw at Manchester City.

After Paul Robinson had twice denied Adam Johnson, it was his opposite number Joe Hart who was to blame as Rovers took the lead when a mix up between the City 'keeper and Kolo Toure lead to Niko Kalinić showing a cool head to notch his second goal of the season by firing into the empty net.

Rovers lead at the break but with Ryan Nelsen and then Michel Salgado having to withdraw through injury it left a much changed back four having to keep City at bay.

The equaliser arrived in the shape of a Patrick Vieira strike on 56 minutes, but City couldn't grab the all important second goal to give them the lead.

Indeed Niko Kalinić almost grabbed his second only to be denied by Hart.

At the death it took two superb pieces of defending to earn Rovers a point, first Givet blocked to deny Tevez, then Samba did likewise to thwart Jo.

Ahead of the game Sam Allardyce named an unchanged side for the trip to Eastlands, the squad reporting a clean bill of health following the recent internationals.

Martin Olsson, one of those who was a doubt, recovered from a shoulder injury to take his place on the substitutes bench along with transfer window signing and former Manchester City striker Benjani.

The opening two minutes gave a clear indication to the pattern of this encounter - Rovers threatening from balls into the box, City threatening with their pace.

From a 2nd minute corner kick Pedersen looked for the head of Chris Samba but he couldn't apply the vital touch, Ryan Nelsen knocked it back amongst the boots in the six yard box for a scramble but no Rovers man could connect.

Quick as a flash the home side broke, Kompany finding Milner who set Adam Johnson away, Paul Robinson denying the England man at his near post with a smart save.

On 15 two of England's form men combined once again as Adam Johnson's neat dummy left Gael Givet for dead, James Milner returned the ball to the wide man, but cutting in from the right Johnson curled a left-footed strike inches wide of Robinson's far post. Then City corner almost lead to the opener, Vincent Kompany's header from Johnson's centre clipping the foot of the post and behind.

Despite the home side's pressure it was Rovers who stunned the home crowd by taking the lead. Morten Gamst Pedersen sent a ball from the centre circle forward, Kolo Toure and Joe Hart confused each other sufficiently to allow Niko Kalinić to steal in and find the back of the empty net.

It was the Croatian striker's second goal of the season with both of them having come after goalkeeping mix-ups following Tim Howard's howler on the opening day of the season.

Boosted by the goal Rovers enjoyed a purple patch for the next ten minutes or so. Mame Biram Diouf missed an excellent chance when poked wide after Michel Salgado headed on Pedersen's throw-in, whilst from an El-Hadji Diouf centre, Niko Kalinić's glancing header flashed across goal.

A clash of ankles between Yaya Toure and Ryan Nelsen had earlier left both players requiring treatment. Nelsen had tried to play on, but eventually the Rovers defender succumbed to the injury five minutes before the break with Martin Olsson on to replace with Givet moving alongside Samba at centre half.

For all their possession City rarely threatened as Rovers retreated in numbers, Johnson forcing Robinson to palm away, whilst Wright-Phillips fired wide.

The half-time whistle from Mark Clattenburg lead to some boos from the home support.

The restart brought another back four change for Rovers with Michel Salgado unable to continue. The Spaniard had picked up a slight thigh strain in training and had been a doubt, Pascal Chimbonda on to replace in a like for like switch.

Moments after the restart Rovers almost capitalised on another City mix-up at the back when Yaya Toure's under hit a backpass. As Niko Kalinić closed in sensing his second goal of the game Joe Hart, earlier awarded City's player of the month for August, cleared the ball against the Croatian, a let off for the home side as the ball rebounded wide.

Then on 55 Rovers broke with Kalinić and Mame Diouf, but the young Diouf was muscled off the ball on the edge of the City box by Kolo Toure.

That proved to be pivotal as less than sixty seconds later the home side were level. Patrick Vieira, who had been largely anonymous in the centre of midfield, set Carlos Tevez away on the right of the area before the arriving to applying the finishing touch to score from the Argentine's centre.

With two defensive changes already enforced on Rovers, their third change of the afternoon was simply to add more presence to midfield. Steven Nzonzi on to replace Vince Grella just before the hour mark.

But in Carlos Tevez City had an attacking force that few sides would be able to control, the diminutive Argentine was a constant thorn in Rovers' side. A 63rd minute strike was diverted against his own post by Chris Samba, moments later he saw a deflected effort bobble inches past the post.

Then Gareth Barry forced a fine save from Robinson. On to replace goalscorer Vieira, the midfielder let fly with a bouncing shot that the Rovers stopper did well to tip around the post.

With eleven minutes left came Rovers' best chance of grabbing all three points. Breaking quickly from midfield with five on three Niko Kalinić found Mame Diouf on the edge of the box, he fed the ball back to Kalinić who cut inside to shoot but Joe Hart blocked his effort with his legs.

That lead to a nervy ending to the match. On 82 Adam Johnson had claims for a penalty waved away as he went down in the area, before a superb sliding interception from Chris Samba prevented the ball reaching Gareth Barry in the six yard box.

With Sam Allardyce cutting a frustrated figure on the touchline as Rovers repeatedly gave the ball away, Chris Samba and Gael Givet were their saviours with heroic defending in the final moments.

Substitute David Silva lifted the ball over the back line for Carlos Tevez, he got to the ball ahead of Paul Robinson but Givet made a sensational block at the post to stop the City man.

As the ball was worked clear it was teed up for strike partner Jo, but Chris Samba pulled off an unbelievable block.

In the fifth minute of added time a Pedersen ball into the area fell to Pascal Chimbonda but he spooned his effort over the bar.

The staff on the touchline weren't too disappointed, they'd earned a hard working point at Eastlands, not many sides can say that, and above all, the manager had avoided his unwanted three in a row.

MAN CITY: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Milner, Wright-Philips (sub Jo 56 mins), A. Johnson (sub Silva 85 mins), Lescott, Vieira (sub Barry 67 mins), Kolo Toure, Tevez (c), Yaya Toure.

Subs not used: Given (GK), Zabaleta, Santa Cruz, Boyata.

ROVERS: Robinson, Salgado (sub Chimbonda 46 mins), Samba (c), Nelsen (sub Olsson 40 mins), Givet, Grella (sub Nzonzi 58 mins), Jones, Pedersen, MB Diouf, Kalinić, EH Diouf.

Subs not used: Bunn (GK), Emerton, Dunn, Benjani.

Booked: Vieira, Yaya Toure (Man City), Chimbonda (Rovers).

Attendance: 44,246

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