Mancini surprised us all last night by selecting a team which included a number of fringe players, or players in danger of becoming fringe players, and one or two turned up the heat on what is becoming a more or less ‘regular’ first team.
Whereas as usual Zabaleta put in a tidy uncompromising performance, Wright-Phillips struggled to make any real headway. Boyata was once again controlled in his work, looking every bit a class defender and Vieira was able to turn back a couple of years in midfield.
Adebayor may have scored the goals and more of that later but the performance of the night was a masterclass delivered by David Silva.
The vision and passing quality of this young man is extraordinary and last night he knitted everything together which would have heralded a ‘That’s the way to do it’ in any Punch and Judy show.
With the Stadium hosting in excess of 6000 Polish football fans, not only from Poznan and certainly not the hooligans that Bundo alluded to yesterday, we were in for a true European night at Eastlands. And as the noise generated from the South Stand and East Level 3 was starting to reach some sort of crescendo, Vieira played a neat pass on 13 minutes to Silva who spotted that Adebayor had lost his marker and delivered one of those laser passes. Still with work to do Adebayor created space to score inside the right hand post.
This may have quelled the Polish noise barrage for a while but what was to come in the 25th minute would kill it stone dead. Super-red commentator Clive Tyldesley would probably have said this was a route one goal, but in my old days of playing for British Airways, we used to have a set piece from a goal kick which got us out of jail a few times a season. And so it proved tonight. Joe Hart’s goal kick saw Adebayor win the header 10 yards inside the opposition half. Johnson collected, spotted Silva’s diagonal run which confused the defence and the cross from Silva was right on the pennies, Adebayor, having continued his run, heading inside the post from 12 yards. Effectively end of story.
Early in the second half, a comedy of errors starting with a mix up on the left 30 yards out saw the ball eventually reach the penalty box. There was a loose tackle which on another day would have resulted in a penalty and as everybody stopped expecting the assistant to put his flag across his chest, the ball squirted its way to Tshimbaba who planted it into the City net.
So the South Stand erupted as did East Level 3 as the Polish fans started to see some light. This was extinguished after 73 minutes when quick passing between Vieira and Wright-Phillips moved the ball to Silva, who unleashed Adebayor for his hat-trick.
Silva was then afforded his ovation following which City easily saw the match out, leaving them in pole position in Group A.
David Silva gets better and better and this was clearly demonstrated last night. Everything he touched turned to gold and his run into the box, jinking and juggling really did deserve a goal.
But what of Adebayor? This was his best performance for nearly a year and was probably prompted by the next visitors to Eastlands, Arsenal, against who he would once again dearly love to play and indeed score.
The combination pretty well adds weight to what I have been pontificating for a while, that add a ‘goal hanger’ to Silva’s passes and you get goals galore. We thought we’d have to wait for Balotelli to come back, but last night and possibly against my better judgement Adebayor proved that with his right head on he can make a difference. He did.
Will Tevez’s much needed rest be extended on Sunday? No doubt time will tell, but in David Silva we have everything that Arsenal has in the form of Fabregas and it will be interesting to see how they compare when Sunday arrives.
Meanwhile, there will be harder examinations to come in the Europa League, but I feel that City can progress comfortably from what they have achieved so far.
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Head for the VMC Match Day Experience Forum for the build up and beyond to City’s six pointer with The Gunners on Sunday!