Given – A spectator for much of the match. Produced one decent save that resulted in the corner for the goal. 6
Vidal – Over eager to chase a ball into the box that lead to an unfortunate injury. 5
Dunne – Skipper looked comfortable prior to leaving the field for what has proved the briefest of tours. 6
Onuoha – Good to see him back and looking solid as ever. 6
Bridge – Got forward well and good to see some link up play with Petrov. 8
Barry – Quality. So comfortable that he looks like he’s played his whole career with City rather than Villa. 8
De Jong – Continues to form a solid barrier with De Jong that looks ready for the Premier League. 7
Wright-Phillips – Struggled to get involved and tended to lose possession when taking extra touches, notably in instigating the move that lead to the goal. 4
Adebayor – Eased himself into the game before showing some quality touches.Ã‚Â Demonstrated his mobility in pulling wide to make himself available, then held the ball up better than we’re used to seeing from Benjani or Caceido. 7
Bellamy – Industrious with some good touches, but clearly needs to work on an understanding with Adebayor. 6
Petrov – His best game of the tour.Ã‚Â The old quality looks to be back! 8
Ben Haim – Came on at right back where he looked good, then moved to centre half and was solid enough till Onuoha went off. He would have wanted to get more purchase on the attempted clearing header that lead to the goal. 6
Zabaleta – Solid enough when he came on at right back in what’s been a busy tour for the Argentinian.Ã‚Â Still lacks that bit of quality in the attacking side of his game. 6
Weiss – Has a tendandcy to try too much, but came as close as anyone in the latter stages to making the breakthrough. 6
Robinho – Came on for the last half hour in what looked like an attempt by City to appease the sponsors.Ã‚Â Clearly not had a sufficient break since the Confederations Cup and played like he was still on his honeymoon. 5
Man of the match: Petrov.
Tuesday 25 July, 2.00pm (BST)
Goals: Ntuka 45
City missed out on their latest chance of silverware in the final of the Vodacom Challenge with a narrow defeat to the Kaizer Chiefs.
Hughes reverted to a 4-4-2 formation and for the second time it resulted in defeat. The midfield began with Barry and De Jong making a solid pairing in the middle with Wright-Phillips and Petrov supplying the width.
Adebayor made his debut alongside Craig Bellamy and unsurprisingly they weren’t on the same wavelength. All the same this pairing looks to have potential and could be worth persevering with while Santa Cruz and Tevez continue their recoveries.
City started the game slowly and the Chiefs looked brighter than in Tuesday’s fixture. The Blues weren’t helped by a succession of injuries, with Vidal being stretchered off following a challenge on the Chiefs goalkeeper after 15 minutes. Ben Haim came on at right-back, but was soon moved to the middle after Dunne departed for Zabaleta. The captain’s armband went to Nedum Onuoha.
Meanwhile City had established a foothold in the game when, after 25 minutes, a good cross from Petrov picked out Bellamy on the edge of the area. The Welshman laid it off first time for Barry to wrongfoot two defenders and fire a shot straight at the keeper.
This tour has seen Petrov steadily rediscover some of his old form and he continued to look sharp, linking up well with Bridge. Adebayor was providing a few nice touches as he eased his way into the game.
Shay Given was required to make his first save after forty minutes when Wright-Phillips lost possession in the middle of the park. The Chiefs scored from the resultant corner, as Ben Haim wasn’t able to fully head clear and the ball went through to Ntuka who slotted home.
After 52 minutes Adebayor blasted over after being put through by the excellent Gareth Barry. The miss brought to mind those Ade-barn-door comments by Arsenal fans.
For the final thirty minutes Robinho took a break from his honeymoon and came on for what looked like an exercise in keeping the sponsors happy. Sadly it was Petrov who made way. Finally Weiss came on for Onuoha (not the most obvious change that one). Barry dropped into the back four and gave the impression he’d be comfortable playing anywhere.
An Adebayor header drew a save after 77 minutes, then great play from Weiss resulted in a shot from Robinho that went just wide. The final few minutes saw Bellamy and Robinho linking up well but still no goal for the second time in three matches.
Given that Hughes isn’t averse to the odd long ball and letting the game get stretched, it really is essential to have someone who can hold the ball up, and Adebayor was that man. Bojinov failed to make an appearance, which is ominous for his future, and a shame after he looked to have finally found his fitness in the first game.
All in all, a good workout and the team lasted the 90 minutes better than in the first two games.Ã‚Â In the post match interview Hughes looked like he’d rather be back in the UK. Adebayor described his fitness as 70%, and he’s already looking light years ahead of Benjani. Another 30% on that could well prove to be happy days!
“I thought Emmanuel was excellent today. For his first game, obviously when you combine a player of his quality and standing in the game, then you expect a certain level of performance and he certainly provided that for us.
“He showed the qualities that we all know he has, which will be invaluable for us this season, so we’re absolutely delighted that he’s here. He’s going to be a huge player for us this season once the team understands the best way to play with him.
“He plays in a way that enables him to get the best out of his team-mates, so we’ve got an exceptional player.
“So we’re delighted with his performance today and sure we’ll be really happy with his performance right through the season.”
A couple of final points. Firstly, I did have some concern today about the form of Wright-Phillips, the final ball still isn’t there often enough and I couldn’t help feeling Elano would have offered more of a threat on the right flank.
A plus on the tour has been the form of Bridge. There was a lot of speculation about the training and lack of fitness under Scolari at Chelsea. Watching the former Chelsea left back bombing up and down, he did look a different player to last season and interestingly linked up better with Petrov than Robinho.
Taylor – Kicking was more erratic than Saturday, but demonstrated his abilities with a low fingertip save in the second half. 7
Zabaleta – Competitive at right back though he was done for pace a couple of times. 7
Mee – An improvement on Saturday’s showing and no silly penalty conceded. 7
McGivern – Strong and assured. It was good to see him in the first team. 8
Bridge – Bombed forward when he could and linked up with Petrov in the second half though not Etuhu in the first. 6
Wright-Phillips – Started very brightly and appears to be over his injury despite tiring in the second half. 6
De Jong – Looked strong with Barry alongside him.Ã‚Â This could well be the pairing for the start of the season. 7
Barry – First of the Summer signings to make an appearance and very assured it was to. 8
Ireland – Captain was at the hub of everything. 8
Etuhu – Good run and cross for the goal but I fear his future is elsewhere.Ã‚Â Missed a great chance late on. 4
Caicedo – Strong but still lacked the necessary finesse as was the case last season. 5
Benjani – Forlorn looking.Ã‚Â Didn’t always receive great service, but still should have done a lot better.Ã‚Â Clearly he’s for sale but I’m not sure what his level is on this showing. 3
Petrov – A big improvement on Saturday, linking up with Bridge and putting over some crosses that the strikers in the stands would have been noting. 7
Vidal – Looked more comfortable than Saturday and wasn’t unduly tested. 6
Garrido – A brief run out late on and slotted in without any problems. 6
Man of the match: Barry
Tuesday 21 July, 7.00pm (BST)
Goals: Ireland 45
The second game in South Africa saw City put out a stronger side and reap the rewards with a deserved victory courtesy of a goal from captain Stephen Ireland on the stroke of half time.
Hughes ditched the 4-4-2 and reverted to last season’s formation with first Ireland and then Wright-Phillips in the hole behind a lone striker.Ã‚Â Everybody looked more comfortable with this.Ã‚Â There was never the sense of being overrun which we had on Saturday.
It’s worth noting the contrast from last season for Ireland when he was on the road to Sunderland during the final friendly, believing he was no longer required by the Blues. He could have had his name on the scoresheet earlier in this fixture when he was put clean through after eighteen mintutes, but shot straight at the keeper.
Prior to that City’s early domination had resulted in a free kick after ten minutes. McGivern will feel he should have scored with a header after Barry put over a decent ball. Is this a sign of things to come, with the England international due to take set pieces?
De Jong, Barry and Ireland looked a very promising midfield trio that was to good for the Chiefs. Whether or not it was down to our different formation and personnel, the Kaizer Chiefs didn’t look as good as our previous opponents in my opinion. If their defence had played a higher line, they’d have been in the Northern hemisphere.
City finally exploited this with a good run and cross by Etuhu for Ireland to score on the stroke of half time. It was an excellent run into the box by the Irishman. Another summer spent running up and down the hills of Derbyshire paid off for that one.
A pair of changes by City at half-time saw Wright-Phillips emerge as captain and Benjani replace Caicedo. City were less effective without Ireland and Benjani in particular looked like he could soon be elsewhere. A glance at Adebayor in the stands would may well have confirmed that. One plus was the performance of Petrov who was linking up with Bridge and putting over some dangerous looking crosses.
However as City tired, the Chiefs started to create openings, culminating in Motaung jr. missing a sitter from six yards out with only Taylor to beat. A goal for the Chiefs would have been harsh on the young defensive duo of Mee and McGivern, who deserved their clean sheet after looking assured throughout. They provided a timely reminder of the strength of the Academy when potential deals for Terry and Lescott struggle to get completed.
Sadly the same could not be said for Etuhu, who missed a golden opportunity in the 89th minute after being put through by Petrov.Ã‚Â Personally I’ve never been convinced that he would make the grade with us and am surprised he’s still here.Ã‚Â Maybe somebody at the club hasn’t quite got over the way his brother Dickson walked out on us and is refusing to let Kelvin go.
Zabaleta was given Man Of The Match, though I was most impressed with Barry, while Ireland just carried on from last season. The manager will say it’s all about the workout, but for the fans it was nice to see a win and keep a clean sheet with our first glimse of a Summer signing in the excellent Gareth Barry.
Finally I’d like to comment on my first experience of watching a game on the new web site (I was at Eastlands for the Pirates game). According to the club I was one of about 21,000 to do so, and it was definitely a positive experience so credit to the people responsible for the site.
I understand there were problems on Saturday, but for me they were minor on this showing.Ã‚Â There were a few pauses but this is the nature of live video streaming.Ã‚Â At one point I switched to the low bandwidth option and the picture was still perfectly viewable.Ã‚Â The club use Brightcove for serving their video and as an American company with a lot of blue chip clients they’re about as good as we can get for this kind of thing.Ã‚Â The internet wasn’t designed to serve live video so no company is able to do it to perfection, and compared to the frustrations that can be had on Justin.tv and the like, this was definitely a big improvement.Ã‚Â And it’s free!
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