Birmingham arrived at COMS after two very good draws Vs Arsenal and Liverpool and have become a side considered 'hard to beat'. After our last home win at Wigan, which was hard fought but not entirely convincing, I was expecting more of the same. Mancini set out pretty similar squad to that used at Burnley, with Garrido replacing the injured Sylvinho and a late swap with De Jong for Vieira who hurt is his knee in the warm up.
The game started is very much the manner expected, City with more possession but only creating the half chances. Adebayor and Tevez looked good, but couldn't create anything clear cut, an all too familiar format this season. The turning point came with Stumpy squat ref Phil Down who gave a somewhat soft penalty, triggering a manic goal rush before half time.
Tevez dispatched the 1st goal, a penalty with confidence and ease. The second came from a set piece, something City have really improved upon recently. Nedum Onouha managed to get good pace and power on a header past Taylor, but after seeing MOTD it may well be awarded to Tevez. Birmingham struck back with immediate effect, McFadden was allowed to 'jink' a ball across the box by Toure to Cam Jerome, who drifted back post with out challenge from Garrido. This was a disappointing lapse in concentration, we were not really under any pressure. City responded again, with a real poachers effort from Adebayor! The goal was very important in keeping the initiative with our side.
In the second half, Birmingham, as expected came out with more purpose and shape, creating a few half chances, but never really putting Given under any sustain pressure. Some nervous moments on the pitch, with city failing the keep hold of the ball in middle, was reflected by the atmosphere in the ground, we needed another goal to settle the nerves.
The goal wasn't expected to come from Onouha, who managed to score a somewhat comical but brilliant goal. Bouncing one pass off a Birmingham defender then laying on a pass, which only he was quick enough to reach and finishing with in style with a slick finish! The final goal fcame from a great individual run by Adebayor finishing in similar manner to what he did at Burnley. He looks in top form along side Tevez.
We continue to cement our claim for 4th spot, improving our goal difference, so we are now ahead of both Liverpool and Spurs. We are ahead in points, with Pool drawing at Fulham and Spurs facing Arsenal, we start our difficult run in with a real advantage. It's unclear the extent of Vieira injury today, but i did notice in his absence Tevez coming much deeper to collect the ball, and start attacks, bridging the gap between a defensive type midfield and the attack. Another positive from today is De Jong yellow card slate is wiped clean, so no suspension for him and Zabaleta will return from his suspension for the Derby. We go into the final 5 games in fine form, full of goals, Johnson, Bellamy, Tevez and Adebayor all looking sharp. We have a formidable attacking threat, so I say Bring on United!
(I believe that Tevez is now on 22 goals in the league this season, after he's now claiming two goals for today. That puts him 4 off the current leader: Wayne Rooney! Another minor battle in the final 5 games of the season to look forward too.)