Sunday, February 14, 2010

Shaun Wright-Phillips & Ricardo Fuller scored views Capello

Manchester City 1
- Wright-Phillips 11

Stoke City 1
- Fuller 57

**England boss Fabio Capello watched one of the Premier League's most destructive attacking weapons wreak more havoc as Stoke salvaged an FA Cup fifth-round draw at Manchester City.

The chapter titled 'Long Throws' is probably not very extensive in the Italian soccer manual, but Capello and fellow countryman Roberto Mancini now understand what Rory Delap can do after his throw was powered home by Ricardo Fuller to give Tony Pulis' men a deserved replay.

Prior to that 57th-minute effort, Capello's trip to Eastlands looked more like being memorable for a defensive howler from England hopeful Ryan Shawcross, a goal for Shaun Wright-Phillips and a decent performance by man-of-the-moment Wayne Bridge.

With less than four months to England's opening World Cup game against the USA in Rustenburg and a fortnight until the squad is named for the friendly against Egypt - the last before a provisional squad is named in mid-May - any chance to impress Capello in person needs to be taken.

For Bridge, gaining selection is not so much the issue. Capello also needs to know the defender is willing to share a dressing room with one-time team-mate John Terry.

However, the Italian would have been impressed by Bridge's forceful bursts, the type that England would miss so badly if Ashley Cole's recovery from a broken ankle takes longer than the projected three months.

Bridge also made a brave block to deny Liam Lawrence at the other end, although he had turned his back on the Stoke man's fierce goalbound shot, so credit is only partially due.

At the moment, Wright-Phillips falls foul of Capello's insistence that he needs players who play.

This was only the little winger's third start in 12 matches since Mancini took charge.

That is not the return Wright-Phillips needs as he looks to exploit Theo Walcott's poor form and nick one of those right-sided midfield berths that David Beckham and Aaron Lennon are also out to claim.

Wright-Phillips' dribbling ability has never been in question, nor the likelihood that he will occasionally pop up with an explosive finish.

But too often he fails to do the nuts and bolts of his job, so he must have been particularly pleased with the scrappy manner of his first-half opener, even if Shawcross has nightmares about it.

Sent racing clear of the Stoke defence by Stephen Ireland, Wright-Phillips lifted the ball over the advancing Thomas Sorensen.

Shawcross galloped back and appeared to have taken control of the situation, only to first miss his kick completely, then, after tumbling over, headed a ball that would have bounced out for a corner straight into Wright-Phillips' path for the easiest of one-yard finishes.

Who knows what Capello made of it but it presumably did not involve making a mental note to reserve Shawcross a place in his 23-man World Cup squad, which has been suggested in some quarters.

In addition to their self-inflicted damage, Stoke lost Matthew Etherington and his replacement Lawrence to serious-looking injuries sustained in innocuous incidents before the break.
When Andy Wilkinson was forced off within 10 minutes of the restart, it seemed the visitors were destined to endure a miserable afternoon.

Then Delap hurled in one of his bombs and the whole contest changed.

Shay Given has received many plaudits over the course of his illustrious career. Yet he remains reluctant to come off his line to help his defenders out in the six-yard box.

That is exactly where Delap aimed his missiles and the Irishman remained rooted to his line as Fuller powered a header past him.

Stoke threatened to win the tie through Glenn Whelan and were fully deserving of their draw, even though Sorensen brilliantly tipped Barry's near-post header over and Wright-Phillips drove a shot into the side-netting before Shawcross turned away a Roque Santa Cruz effort that was going wide anyway.

Teams :

Manchester City: Given, Zabaleta, Toure, Lescott, Bridge, Wright-Phillips, Barry, De Jong, Petrov (Santa Cruz '62), Ireland (Vieira '72), Adebayor

Stoke City: Sorensen, Wilkinson (Colins '55), Huth, Shawcross, Higginbotham, Etherington (Lawrence '14) (Delap '45), Diao, Whelan, Sanli, Sidibe, Fuller.

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