City's title win reimagined as a GAA report
15:15, 15 May 2012
What if Manchester City’s title win with victory over QPR was presented as an old-school GAA match report…
Manchester City came through the sternest of challenges from QPR to win by the minimum of margins in ideal conditions at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday last.
There was a healthy attendance of 48,000 in Manchester to see Edin Dzeko and then Sergio Aguero pop up late on to turn defeat on its head, and win their side its first senior ‘A’ championship in 44 years.
But for long spells the home supporters would have been on the edge of the seats in what was a ding-dong battle. City, wearing all blue with hooped socks, were fastest out of the traps but racked up plenty of wides early on and despite playing against a breeze, Rangers were more than holding their own.
In a keenly-contested clash, manager Mark Hughes and his selectors decided to play with a four-man full-back line and had his QPR team hunting and harrying in packs all afternoon. The home side were struggling to make any inroads upfront until David Silva and Yaya Toure released Pablo Zabaleta in the 39th minute.
The right corner-back carried the ball inside the QPR ’14 and blasted it to the back of the net despite the close attentions of Taye Taiwo and Clint Hill. Goalkeeper Paddy Kenny, who gave an exhibition between the sticks on the day, might wonder if he could have done any better on this occasion.
In what was a good physical game, midfielder Toure shipped a knock to the leg and soon had to be replaced by the teak-tough Nigel de Jong just before the half-time interval.
But on the resumption, Aguero had a great chance to double his side’s lead after good work down the wing by Gael Clichy - unfortunately for Roberto Mancini’s men he sent his effort just wide of the left-hand upright.
Rangers, now with the breeze at their backs, had a chance to capitalise and when Joleon Lescott got caught under a high clearance and failed to clear his lines, full-forward Djibril Cisse latched onto the breaking ball and stretched the net past the despairing dive of Joe Hart.
QPR looked as if they might go on and win the game but they were soon down to 14 men when, after getting to know one another, Joseph Barton was sent to the line for pulling across Carlos Tevez. Initially referee Mike Dean missed the altercation but the linesman called for his attention and a red card was subsequently brandished.
The QPR man looks to be headed for at least a two-month suspension after a melee involving Aguero and Vincent Kompany as his mentors led him from the fray. But thankfully City resisted all attempts by the opposition to introduce argy bargy into what was an otherwise fierce but cleanly-fought match.
Aguero was fortunately well enough to continue and had a number of chances to give his side a lead on the scoreline to go with their personnel advantage, but some slack shooting let him down. Still, it seemed the home team held all the aces but Kenny in the QPR net put his cat-like reflexes to good use on more than one occasion.
Minutes later, City were calling for a square ball after a crossfield pass by substitute Armand Traore was met by Jamie Mackie to give the visitors a surprise lead with 25 minutes left on the clock. Despite the home side’s protestations, the referee had no hesitation in allowing the goal to stand and demanded the umpire raise his flag.
City rallied, however, and had plenty of time to reel in the opposition but were frustrated by an unfancied Rangers team, led ably by centre half-back Anton Ferdinand and goalkeeper Kenny. The home side resorted to lumping it long into the edge of the square and it looked to have paid off when replacement Mario Balotelli got his head on the end of a crossfield ball, but Kenny was to be credited for being in the right place at the right time to make a fine save.
Not for long though as City wouldn’t give up and showed admirable spirit to level it up in injury time - Silva sent in yet another diagonal ball and big man Dzeko rose highest in the small parallelogram to give his side hope of claiming a richly-deserved title.
In what was a frantic finish, QPR did all they could to resist the men in blue but Mancini’s battling side refused to say die. Aguero got the ball inside the ’45 and after a neat exchange with Balotelli, he fired the ball low past Kenny and sent his supporters home happy in the knowledge that the Barclays trophy would be spending the winter in Eastlands.
Both sides must be complimented for their efforts but best for City on the day were Aguero, Dzeko, Zabaleta and Gareth Barry while Mackie, Cisse, Clint Hill and Kenny did most to tip the scales in their side’s favour.
Due to results elsewhere, Rangers ensured they will be playing senior again next year as Bolton Wanderers drop down to intermediate for the first time in 11 years.
But after City’s commendable late escape, all roads now lead to Eastlands after pipping parish rivals United to the title.
Manchester City: Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott, Pablo Zabaleta (1-0), Vincent Kompany, Gael Clichy, Gareth Barry Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Sergio Aguero (1-0), Carlos Tévez. Subs: Nigel de Jong for Toure 45 mins; Edin Dzeko (1-0) for Barry, 69 mins; Mario Balotelli for Tevez, 76 mins
QPR: Patrick Kenny, Anton Ferdinand, Nedum Onuoha, Clint Hill, Taye Taiwo, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Joey Barton, Jamie Mackie (1-0), Shaun Derry, Djibril Cissé (1-0), Bobby Zamora. Subs: Armand Traore for Cisse, 59 mins; Jay Bothroyd for Zamora 76 mins
Referee: Mike Dean
Conditions: Slight breeze; fierce close
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