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MATCH REPORT: CITY 0, SPURS 2

Posted on 18 December 2007  - 12:00

The semi-finals of the Carling Cup now beckon after Manchester City were defeated 2-0 at the City of Manchester Stadium on Tuesday night as the win more than compensated for the first half sending off of Didier Zokora.

The semi-finals of the Carling Cup now beckon after Manchester City were defeated 2-0 at the City of Manchester Stadium on Tuesday night as the win more than compensated for the first half sending off of Didier Zokora.
It was a display of great courage and conviction, holding out against a team who had won ten out of ten home games before this and, were it not for the dismissal, you fancied a wider margin of victory.

There was one change to the starting line-up that ended up recording victory at Portsmouth on Saturday, with Jermain Defoe stepping in for the injured Darren Bent. On the bench, Tom Huddlestone was drafted in for Paul Stalteri.

Less than five minutes were on the clock when Kevin Prince Boateng prodded along the area line to Dimitar Berbatov who, in turn, picked up Jermaine Jenas. Jenas did the smart move with a defence cutting pass inside to Aaron Lennon, whose low cross was tapped into the goal by the ever-alert Defoe.

It was a perfect beginning on a chilly night on which, as is the norm, the Spurs section was packed to the rafters. That was where the noise was coming from and the team in yellow were meeting early expectations.

It really should have been two when Lennon again tormented Javier Garrido and cut back for Steed Malbranque, who had held off his run and was unmarked. The Frenchman had time to pick his spot but took a touch too many and then opted to try and pick out Defoe in the free. The long leg of Richard Dunne thwarted that particular ambition and the chance was gone.

The was a big twist in the tale on 21 minutes when a Didier Zokora tackle on Elano prompted referee Mr Bennett to reach for his red card. Replays showed that Zokora went to ground in his challenge and made little or no contact with the Manchester City player. As a result of this, Teemu Tainio was bought on and Defoe had to make way.

Composure was called for in a big way and a big onus was on the likes of Younes Kaboul to stand firm without his central defensive partner. Tainio slotted in at right back, with Pascal Chimbonda switching inside.

Berbatov came close to extending the advantage after a fine combination with Lennon - the foot of Vedran Corluka denying him. City, with new-found impetus, came very close to levelling when Martin Petrov flicked through into the run of Elano and the Brazilian was a matter of inches wide with his shot from the left of the area.

The bookings were mounting up, Jenas joined Chimbonda, Kaboul and Malbranque on a yellow after Michael Johnson clearly made contact with him in the area.

It was probably always going to be a case of attempting to hang on in there in the second half and Paul Robinson more than did his bit on 54 minutes when, from a Corluka cross that was perfectly weighted for Darius Vassell to head home, Robbo pulled off a simply magnificent save.

City had a decent penalty shout when Dunne was felled by Chimbonda inside the area, but the boys were showing character and being stubborn, while always looking for the opportunity to break out and seal victory.

Jamie O'Hara was being readied for action with just over 20 minutes left on the clock and came on a minute later with Lennon withdrawn. Just before the change a Chimbonda header from a Malbranque corner was not far away, while City were proving a frustration to the home crowd and there were more than a few groans around the ground.

Robbo again had them gasping with a superb stop to deny Rolando Bianchi and then they were completely deflated and defeated on 82 minutes when a superb ball from O'Hara sent Malbranque scurrying goalwards. The midfielder advanced, kept cool and slotted calmly past Joe Hart to send the travelling Spurs into raptures.