Sport Soccer

Saturday 24 June 2017

Mancini's men make hard work of Foxes

Manchester City 4
Leicester City 2

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini wears a black and red scarf as a tribute to former Manchester City player Neil Young who is currently battling cancer. Young wrote his name into City folklore by scoring the goal which won the 1969 final against Leicester at Wembley. Photo: Getty Images
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini wears a black and red scarf as a tribute to former Manchester City player Neil Young who is currently battling cancer. Young wrote his name into City folklore by scoring the goal which won the 1969 final against Leicester at Wembley. Photo: Getty Images

Mark Ogden

Roberto Mancini has injected professionalism, focus and a trophy-winning appetite into Manchester City, but after an unnecessarily tense FA Cup replay against Leicester, it is clear that the Italian has yet to eradicate the club's penchant for making life difficult for themselves.

A missed penalty by Carlos Tevez and a late lifeline for Leicester both contributed to the difficulties experienced by the team.

And although they ultimately denied Sven-Goran Eriksson a happy return to Eastlands, they could have done it in a far less stressful manner.

The last time Eriksson patrolled the technical area at Eastlands, in April 2008, the imminent end of his reign as City manager was football's worst-kept secret, despite the farcical charade being played out by Thaksin Shinawatra, the club's owner at the time.

A 3-2 defeat at home to Fulham, with City having led 2-0, was followed at the final whistle by a prize draw for a free car and a meal for two in the centre circle.

It was Phoenix Nights on a football pitch, but the City of 2011 is unrecognisable from the shambolic outfit that Eriksson was forced to endure and the Leicester manager's protege, Roberto Mancini, is threatening to become the first man since 1976 to deliver a trophy to the blue half of Manchester.

The money of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan is to be thanked for the rapid progression from shambles to superpower, but Mancini's input has created the winning mentality within the squad.

Despite Paul Gallagher's penalty equaliser on 18 minutes following Tevez's stunning opener, the home side's progression did not seem in doubt -- until their late wobble.

Tevez's goal was certainly in the 'special' category. Receiving the ball from Pablo Zabaleta's throw-in, the City captain escaped Yuki Abe and Jack Hobbs before beating goalkeeper Chris Weale with a fearsome shot from 18 yards.

Dubious

Gallagher levelled three minutes later following Lloyd Dyer's dubious tumble in the penalty area, but the home side restored their lead on 37 minutes when Patrick Vieira tapped in at the far post after Souleymane Bamba had half-cleared David Silva's shot.

Within 60 seconds of the restart, Silva stole the ball and threaded it through to Adam Johnson, who beat Weale with a crisp left-footed shot from 18 yards.

City, much to Mancini's annoyance, have a tendency to coast and lose concentration when in match-winning positions and it was the same old story in the second half.

Having survived a penalty scare when Halsey correctly rejected Leicester appeals following James Milner's tackle on Abe, City were then given an opportunity to score a fourth when they were awarded a penalty of their own following Hobbs's late tackle on Tevez.

Yet Tevez, who missed from the spot against Blackpool earlier this month, saw his penalty saved by Weale and the miss re-energised Leicester. Eriksson's team teed up a frantic end to the game when Dyer made it 3-2 after racing on to Abe's pass before coolly beating Hart.

Leicester poured forward in search of an equaliser, but just as their belief was beginning to soar, Aleksandar Kolarov's 20-yard strike on 90 minutes snuffed out their hopes. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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