Samaras strike sinks Norwich
Georgios Samaras struck in the last minute to edge Mancester City into the last 16 of the Carling Cup.
Last Updated: 25/09/07 10:34pm
Georgios Samaras' first goal since January edged Mancester City past Norwich City in the Carling Cup.
The striker, something of a forgotten man after such a busy summer of spending by new manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, slotted home in the final minute to settle a drab tie at Eastlands.
A much-changed home line-up struggled to see off the determined Canaries, who fought hard but offered little to suggest an upset was on the cards.
Samaras' goal from Kelvin Etuhu's excellent through ball at least meant there was no need for extra time, a prospect that had looked likely from the opening whistle.
Eriksson assured everyone he was taking the competition - the last major trophy City have won - seriously, then promptly dropped nine of his starting line-up from the weekend draw at Fulham.
Only skipper Richard Dunne and midfielder Stephen Ireland remained and both men, for differing reasons, had missed the previous weekend's win over Aston Villa.
It quickly became apparent most of City's attacks would come through Brazilian midfielder Geovanni.
Unfortunately, his efforts met with little success during a truly awful opening period.
Indeed, the nearest City came to breaking the deadlock was from one of the free-kicks Geovanni did not take, Michael Ball curling an effort towards the top corner which David Marshall unconvincingly fumbled away.
At the other end, England Under-21 international Joe Hart was somewhat more certain of his angles as he flew to his left to steer a 20-yard Jon Otsemobor free-kick away from danger.
And that, in terms of goalmouth action, was more or less it apart from one Samaras shot.
Offered a previously non-existent chance to shine, Samaras flitted about to little effect as he has done for most of his time with City.
However, he did find himself in a bit of space on the half hour, enough to send a low effort curling towards the Norwich goal which Marshall pushed away.
Amid the huge number of youngsters who have graduated from the City academy, some have not quite made the grade.
Winger Lee Croft is one of that number and in his anxiety to impress against his old club, struggled to make an impact.
Yet he could quite easily have put Norwich in front when he benefited from a dubious onside call as he strode on to Otsemobor's touchline pass.
Despite the tightness of the angle, Croft really should have gone for goal himself. Instead he tried to find Jamie Cureton with a square ball and one-time team-mate Nedum Onuoha slid in to clear.
The lack of entertainment was summed up midway through the second period when Norwich manager Peter Grant controlled a punt out of play on his chest and began an impromptu keepie-uppie session which earned the biggest cheer of the entire night.
City substitute Etuhu wasted an opportunity to mark his debut with a winner, while Rolando Bianchi was also off target with a snap-shot as the clock ticked down.
But there was still time for a winner as Etuhu produced the pin-point pass which allowed Samaras to send City into the last 16.
|Manchester City||Team Statistics||Norwich City|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||2|
|9||Shots off Target||3|