Thursday, 18 September 2008
UEFA Cup; Omonia Nicosia vs Robinho's Manchester City
Bizarrely, this match was on Sky 1 (or Sky1, I'm not sure if there's supposed to be a space or not). The only other football I can remember on Sky1 (aside from various celebrity matches) is a Bolton Champions' League match a couple of seasons ago. Maybe the aquisition of Robinho sparked some kind of bidding war, or more likely, the rights were begging to go cheaply, the match kicking off at the unattractive time of 6pm, and the UEFA Cup's regular home of Five showing a Aston Villa, Portsmouth and Everton marathon, having aquired home rights to all of those sides.
In a partizan atmosphere that often seems to exist in European stadium, but is never anywhere to be found in English grounds, and on a parched pitch, Manchester City laboured in the first half against a willing and organised Cypriot team. Jo managed to mis-hit a ball on the six yard line rather than tap into an empty net and City managed to hit the woodwork twice in the first half. Robinho was the focus of the match of course, both for the team, and he showed flashes of the skill that £32 million has been splashed for, and also for the commentators, who made as many references to him and his Brazilan compatriots as they could. It's already becoming very tired - I think I'm looking forward to the January transfer window, just so City might buy some more big money players to take the focus off Robinho! Just as last night's United match was almost spoilt by the endless reference's to Ronaldo's comeback, so this one too was tarnished by lazy journalism.
Nicosia punished City for their proflicacy right at the start of second half with a peach of a free kick - one of those ones from about 25 yards out that curls just out of the reach of the goalkeeper. Nice. Jo made it a hat-trick of missed chances soon after, contriving to strike the bar when clean through on the keeper. He made up for it soon after, finally netting for City with a tap in, before giving City the lead after 70 minutes with a well taken goal - evading his marker and slotting home from about 15 yards out. Despite a couple of nervy moments right at the end, City held on to secure the win.
A good result from City, which should see the through to the group stage of the competition without too much trouble at Eastlands. They can be pleased with a good performance against a team with the potential to be tricky. They may be worth a cheeky punt as winners of the competition, as it would be realistic to consider them contenders for the competition, and it's a useful way to gain European experience given how they would love to be competing in the Champion's League next season.