Elano strikes again for City
Manchester City picked up their sixth successive home win as Elano's first half goal saw off Birmingham.
By Alex Dunn
Last Updated: 20/10/07 8:07pm
Prior to kick-off and there had been concerns over whether Elano would be suffering jetlag following a midweek trip to Rio, but by the game's conclusion Manchester City were delighted he passed himself fit to play after his goal proved enough against Birmingham.
For large spells the entertainment served up was more cava than champagne but City fans will care little as the sublimely gifted Brazilian's fourth goal in his past three games proved just enough.
When the goal arrived it was clouded in controversy as an apoplectic Steve Bruce remonstrated on the sidelines, after Mike Dean waved on what looked to be a foul by Michael Johnson on Fabrice Muamba in the build-up. It went unpunished but Birmingham did not; when from Vedran Corluka's slide-rule pass, Elano showed poise and precision in drilling past Maik Taylor in the 37th minute.
The scripts this season at Eastlands have been as formulaic as any run-of-the-mill soap; City will win and at the hub of their best work will be their creative epicentre Elano and so it proved again as they wrapped up a sixth consecutive success at home, despite Birmingham pressure in the second half.
Bruce will feel his side were worth at least a point as they were denied after the break by Joe Hart's superb reaction stop from Muamba and then Micah Richards, who cleared off the line after City's young keeper came and missed a cross.
City had to be patient and Elano's goal was their first real effort on target. Bruce could hardly believe it and was constantly agitated on the touchline.
However his side quickly regained their composure and Olivier Kapo should have equalised a minute later. He found himself clear in the area but his weak shot failed to test Hart.
City were growing in confidence with Martin Petrov adopting a shoot-on-sight policy. However his 25-yard effort in the 43rd minute failed to test Taylor.
City made a bright start to the second half and Petrov tried a dipping half-volley from distance but saw his ambitious effort go wide of the target.
Birmingham swept back downfield and Gary McSheffrey delivered a corner from the left. Rafael Schmitz got away from his marker but headed over the bar.
It was City, however, who were looking the more dangerous side going forward.
Petrov whipped in a corner in the 52nd minute that Stephen Kelly did well to clear at the back post.
There was a moment of anxiety for City when Richards took an awkward fall and lay prostrate on the turf. However he quickly recovered and resumed his place alongside Richard Dunne at the back.
Petrov almost added a second in the 60th minute, cutting inside before delivering a shot that Taylor did well to take cleanly.
City boss Eriksson decided to freshen things up in the 65th minute, bringing on Georgios Samaras for the tiring Emile Mpenza.
Samaras immediately made a nuisance of himself and the ball broke to Petrov but he sent his effort over the bar.
Elano almost added a second in the 71st minute, his powerful drive from 20 yards whistling past the post after he had been set up by Petrov.
With only one goal in it, City fans were getting edgy and Kapo came close to equalising.
He saw his effort come back off Hart's chest then Richards cleared off the line from Schmitz.
Birmingham were playing with plenty of spirit and substitute Garry O'Connor rattled in a shot that Corluka did well to block but they were unable to secure an equaliser.
However Bruce, whose own future is in doubt, will no doubt take a number of positives from this performance.
|Manchester City||Team Statistics||Birmingham City|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||7|
|8||Shots off Target||4|