Blues for City defenders on day of joy for Robinson
Blackburn Rovers 1 Manchester City 1
THIS was a match that two of Manchester City's defenders will quickly want to quickly forget.
Dedryck Boyata, handed a rare starting opportunity, was sent off late in the tie for a second bookable offence at the end of an uninspired display, while team-mate Joleon Lescott took to social media to continue a spat with his own supporters.
It wasn't a good day, either, for City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, whose failure to hold Rudy Gestede's second-half header gifted Scott Dann the chance to equalise Alvaro Negredo's late first-half goal.
Lescott, widely expected to leave City in the January transfer window, was the only visiting player who failed to acknowledge his club's 7,000 following at Ewood on the final whistle, explaining later that a minority of those supporters had hurled abuse at him based on his personal appearance.
Lescott tweeted: "Can only apologise for not showing appreciation after the game, but some comments I heard from a small group of our fans were unnecessary. Won't go into what was said, but it was none (sic) footballer related."
While City toiled, Blackburn's supporters enjoyed a rare opportunity to rub shoulders once more with the Premier League elite after three years of decline.
And, as a metaphor for the recovery from near-death experience, those fans needed to look no further than recalled goalkeeper Paul Robinson.
Playing for the first time in 13 months since a blood clot left him fearing for his life, Robinson was one of the outstanding performers as Gary Bowyer's side dealt, surprisingly comfortably, with a City side that has swept pretty much all before them this season.
"I was absolutely delighted to play today -- it was the icing on the cake for me," said Robinson, whose medical problems began when a routine operation on a back disc resulted in him suffering a life-threatening blood clot on his lungs.
"It's been a long 13 months. I've had some really difficult times.
"Five days after the operation, I went to the local hospital coughing up blood, but they sent me home.
"That night it was like somebody was stood on my chest. I couldn't breathe. I was coughing up a lot more blood. It was horrible. I went into Leeds General Infirmary on Easter Monday and afterwards the doctors told me that I nearly died.
"I've just got a different outlook on life now. I'm a lot more relaxed because it was nearly taken away from me."
For City, the replay means cancelling a week of training in Abu Dhabi and leaves Pellegrini's side facing seven consecutive weeks with a midweek fixture. (© Daily Telegraph, London)