Verdict: Crystal Palace 0 City 2
Goals: Wright-Phillips 50 mins and Tevez 70 mins for City.
City came through a difficult away tie in the Carling Cup thanks to second half goals from Shaun Wright-Phillips and Carlos Tevez.
Mark Hughes surprised everyone by naming a full strength team. The only change from the game against Wolves was Joleon Lescott making his debut in place of Richard Dunne. Despite this, Palace caused the Blues plenty of problems, particularly through the pacy teenage duo of Freddie Sears and Victor Moses.
As with the two Premier League games so far, City were grateful to the opposition’s lack of composure in front of goal and some inspired goalkeeping from Shay Given for victory. It’s testimony to the Irish keeper’s brilliance that he has now enjoyed four consecutive clean sheets with what has been a far from convincing defence in front of him.
Joleon Lescott probably saw a lot more action than he bargained for in a mixed debut. There was some solid defending from the 6′ 2″ midlands man who won’t lose too much in the air, and he showed composure and confidence when bringing the ball out from the back. He’s a little more mobile and definitely quicker on the turn than Dunney, so we should see some improvement in the defence as a whole.
Whether it was right for Hughes to once again play just a midfield two of Barry and Ireland in front of a defence who had never before played together is highly questionable. Once again there was precious little protection for the back four and Richards in particular wasn’t stopping a sufficient number of crosses.
Barry isn’t quick enough across the ground to do the midfield holding role on his own. Ireland looks to get forward whenever he can and is often bursting into the box ahead of the strikers. This Frank Lampard impression is fine when the ball reaches him but if we lose possession, the team is awfully vulnerable to the counter attack.
Both Tevez and Adebayor had their moments up front and the Togolese in particular is providing a whole new dimension to our attacking play. His movement and ability to link up play whilst also being a goal threat is something we haven’t seen in a long while. With all the thought and planning that goes into player fitness these days it was probably a pre-meditated decision by Hughes to give Tevez his longest runout so far.
Robinho continues to strike fear into opponents who double up on him, yet rarely stop him finding a teammate. Once again he didn’t dominate, but still showed great awareness and some fine touches. He was particularly unlucky with one offside decision that saw him haring clear. The resulting lob over the keeper and into the net only earnt him a reprimand from the referee.
Shaun Wright-Phillips turned in another impressive performance, even if he does lose the ball a little to often. A goal, an assist, a shot against the bar, and some fine runs to relieve the pressure all ensured he was our greatest threat on the night.
After all the uncomfortable moments in the first half it was a relief to see us claim the first goal. Robinho and Ireland were both involved and the Irishman slipped the ball through to Wright-Phillips. He took a touch before crashing the ball in at the near post. The power of the strike ensured it hit the back of the net before the impressive Palace keeper had time to react.
The goal took the wind out of Palace’s sails and City could have taken further advantage when Adebayor burst through, only to be stopped by the keeper. Robinho then played in Wright-Phillips who did everything right in going across the keeper and clipping it over him, only to see the ball bounce back off the bar. Ireland’s attempt to convert the rebound wasn’t the most successful piece of athleticism.
A headed goal from Tevez, courtesy of a Wright-Phillips corner, gave the Argentinian a chance to show his cupped ear goal celebration that we last saw in the derby at Old Trafford. This time he could enjoy the sound of City fans cheering.
Palace continued to have chances but the two goal cushion survived in what proved to be another entertaining game.
“Last year we went out to Brighton and I’d made changes that night. That maybe shaped my thinking this time. We’ve got a bit of momentum at the beginning of the season, and that is important to us.”
I was hoping [TÃƒÂ©vez] would get opportunities and thankfully heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s off the mark now. Joleon only had 24 hours with the group, but I thought he was excellent. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got a bit of momentum at the beginning of the season, which is important.”
“It was a big moment for me to lead out Manchester City. If the manager asks me to be captain regularly then I would be delighted to accept because I am really happy to be at this football club and I think as a group we can bring a lot of success here.
“It was a good win because the first half was tough. Palace played well but we knew because of the pace at which they had played they would tire and in the end of we could have scored more goals.”