Monday, March 15, 2010

Adam Johnson rescues Manchester City with magnificient goal in stoppage time

- Jones 9

- Johnson,A 90

**Adam Johnson earned Manchester City a point against Sunderland in a pulsating encounter at the Stadium of Light.

Jones met Steed Malbranque's cross after just eight minutes to loop an unstoppable header past Shay Given,

Manchester City had won the last nine encounters between the two clubs in the Premier League, but Sunderland, coming off the back of a much needed win over Bolton in midweek, started the brighter of the two sides, with Jones testing Given in the opening minutes.

Jones didn’t have to wait long for his next chance, and this time he gave Given no chance with a stunning header to give Sunderland the lead after eight minutes.

Malbranque was the architect, skipping past Pablo Zabaleta on the left hand side before delivering an inch perfect cross for Jones, who looped an unstoppable header into the corner of the net.

The Stadium of Light was bouncing, and the home side kept up the pressure, almost scoring an identical second. Malbranque’s delivery was once again met by Jones, but this time the strikers header was tame and went straight at a grateful Given.

Sunderland were camped in City’s half in the opening twenty minutes, with Mancini’s millionaires struggling to string more than two passes together.

Jones was at the heart of every move, linking up well with strike partner Darren Bent before dragging his shot wide from the edge of the area.

Manchester City did show signs of improvement midway through the half, with the powerful Micah Richards playing a one two with Shaun Wright-Phillips and making his way to the by-line, but City’s lack of quality in the final third was clear for all to see as Richard’s cross was poor and Michael Turner was able to clear with ease.

Despite all the dominance from Sunderland, Manchester City should have levelled the match on the half hour.

After good work from Wright-Phillips the ball fell kindly for Gareth Barry, but the England international couldn’t find the target and fired his shot inches wide of Craig Gordon’s left hand post.

Roberto Mancini recognised that his side were struggling to breakdown Sunderland with their 4-3-3 system and decided to switch to a more traditional 4-4-2 by replacing Wayne Bridge with Roque Santa Cruz, sending the Paraguayan to partner Carlos Tevez in attack.

The change didn’t have any instant rewards for City, and the first half ended just as it had started, with the home side dominating proceedings.

If it wasn’t for Bent’s hesitance in the box they could have gone into the break with a bigger lead, with the striker failing to get a shot away on a few occasions, but the half time whistle went with Jones’ header the difference between the two sides.

Unfortunately for Steve Bruce, he had to replace his man of the match at half time. Jones picking up a knock in the first half which he couldn’t shake off during the half time break, and local lad Jordan Henderson came on for the goal scorer.

Craig Gordon hadn’t been tested at all in the first half, but the Scot made two vital saves in the opening five minutes of the second half to keep his side in front.

Santa Cruz was allowed far too much space in the area, but his tentative effort was well saved by Gordon.

Seconds later it was Wright-Phillip’s turn to test the Sunderland stopper, and after breaking in to the penalty area the winger surprisingly chose to go near post despite Tevez screaming for the ball across goal, nevertheless Gordon saved well with his legs.

City looked like a completely different side to the one that failed to compete in the first half, and really tested the resolve of Sunderland’s back four, but they stood firm.

The game was really heating up and threatened to boil over when David Meyler and Barry were involved in an altercation in the Sunderland half, but Chris Foy did well to calm the situation and both players were booked.

Patrick Vieria came on for Richards on the hour mark and rolled back the years with a glorious defence splitting pass which set Barry free on the left, but the linesman raised his flag for offside.

As the rain fell at The Stadium of Light, Manchester City’s attacking intent was clear, and they came so close to levelling through Tevez, but yet again it was Gordon who came out on top with a world class save.

Craig Bellamy collected a loose ball on the right and fired a low cross towards the near post which was met by Tevez, and despite the Argentine getting a clean contact, Gordon spread his frame to make a world class save.

It was City’s attack versus Sunderland’s defence as the Black Cats were getting deeper and deeper as the minutes ticked away, Steve Bruce electing to protect their lead and to play on the counter attack, with Bent and Campbell always dangerous with long balls down the channels.

Vieria's vision was again superb when he played Bellamy in with just ten minutes remaining, but the angle was tight and unlike Hilario who got his angles all wrong for Chelsea when Bellamy scored at Stamford Bridge from a similar position, Gordon stood firm to add to his catalogue of saves in the match.

Four minutes were added on for Manchester City to get their equaliser, and they did just that thanks to a sublime effort from Adam Johnson.

Bellamy fired a shot through a crowd of bodies which Gordon managed to divert out for a corner, and from the resulting corner kick the ball surpassed everyone and landed at the feet of Johnson on the corner of the box. The former Middlesborough man cut inside and curled an audacious effort into the top left hand corner, sending Mancini galloping down the touchline in Mourinho fashion and the City fans behind the goal into raptures.

Team Lineups:

Sunderland: Gordon, Hutton, Turner, Mensah, Ferdinand, Campbell (Bardsley 84), Richardson, Meyler, Malbranque (Zenden 77 '), Jones (Henderson 45'), Bent

Manchester City: Given, Richards (Vieira 64), Kompany, Lescott, Bridge (Santa Cruz 33 '), Wright-Phillips (Johnson 73'), Zabaleta, De Jong, Barry, Bellamy, Tevez

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