Europa League verdict: Manchester City 3 Lech Poznan 1
Goals: Adebayor 14, 25 & 73 mins for City. Tshibamba 50 mins for Poznan.
Emmanuel Adebayor brushed off the cobwebs in his goal celebration, as a hat-trick gave City victory over spirited Poznan. Both sides sought to attack in an entertaining fixture played out against the most remarkable away support ever seen at Eastlands.
Filling the away end were fans from Poland, while the upper tier of the East stand was given over to UK based Poles. Added to that were a sprinkling of other ex-pats around the home section! Those in the away end supplied the full reportoire of Eastern Europe crowd antics, switching from the slightly threatening to the quite comic.
As if this wasn’t entertainment enough, the game itself was one of the most open we’ve seen at Eastlands this season. Both sides were looking for the win, and even when 3-1 ahead Mancini still kept the team going forward.
At the heart of all that was best about City’s attacking play was David Silva. The Spaniard is now fully up to speed and looks a top quality player. His control is exemplary and the incisive passing is starting to find team-mates. Allied to this is movement that sees him find space and take up positions to hurt the opposition.
With Johnson and Wright-Phillips bringing pace to the flanks, there was a greater attacking thrust on the break than we’ve previously seen this season. Adebayor started the game with mixed success until a brilliant drag back and turn gave him the chance to open his account for the season.
From then on his confidence was back and two things were noticeable. Firstly, the work-rate as he chased down defenders and, secondly, he started winning high balls like a target man. The second goal was a textbook striker’s header, getting over the ball and directing it down into the corner of the net.
Ade has the ability and the physique to make a fantastic striker. Too often his touch lets him down and his positional play is poor. The third goal showed an improvement in the latter as he stayed onside to finish Silva’s perfect curling pass.
When things come off he looks awesome and it’s to be hoped that this hat-trick can send him on a hot run of form and goals. Whether he’ll ever find the consistency and application to make a genuine world class striker is another matter.
Elsewhere there were plenty of competent performances in a much changed side. Richards, Boyata and Zabaleta all came into the defence and performed well.
It was interesting to note that Lescott rather than Kompany was the central defender to be retained. Mancini may have wanted to give Joleon more match time to sharpen up ahead of the Arsenal fixture. Kompany has been virtually ever present and warranted a break.
De Jong had a rest over the international period, so was the natural choice to partner Vieira in the middle. The Dutchman was increasingly influential during the second half as the Poles lifted their game after scoring.
At other times it was Vieira who shone, setting the tempo with his passing. It’s a bonus to see him looking fully fit and his current form is better than that of Yaya.
It’s now clear why Mancini wants him as part of the squad. Being able to rest the likes of Barry and bring in someone who looks so at ease in European football gives us a chance of successfully competing on more than one front.
The defence wasn’t as tight without the leadership of Kompany and Kolo with Posnan having occasional chances throughout the game. Fortunately the third goal enabled us to relax and close the game out.
“He gave an excellent performance. It was very important for us and for him.
“A striker needs to score goals and he scored three, so I’m happy for him.”
The result puts City in an excellent position at the top of the group. A draw in Poland and victory over Salzburg ought to see us through to the next stage. No doubt Mancini would like to avoid having to take a full strength side to Juventus in need of a result.