Thursday 12 December 2019

City's reserves outgun locals

Sen Ryan

THERE wasn't anything Super about the first game in the Dublin Super Cup at the Aviva Stadium yesterday.

Played out in front of a sparse crowd, most of whom seemed to be Celtic supporters waiting for the second game, it featured what amounted to the reserve sides of both the Airtricity League -- whose top players are still busy in European action -- and Manchester City, whose first team was being held back for the more serious challenge of Inter Milan this afternoon.

For a long time it was a case of wondering if the fans' patience would be rewarded as the reserves found it hard to provide the spark that would set the game off. While they never quite managed that, at least the Man City faithful had three goals to cherish.

Damien Richardson, the Airtricity manager, was full of praise for his team, but conceded that tiredness set in towards the end, when City more or less had things their own way.

Richardson emphasised the importance of the tournament for the development of the game here, but questioned the present format, saying he would favour semi-finals, followed by a final and third place play-off.

The present format encourages the visiting teams to play their reserves against the Airtricity XI, as Celtic intend to do today, and play their first team against the stronger opposition.

City's playmaker Gareth Barry showed his class with two measured balls over the top of the Airtricity defence, which proved the key to unlocking the home resistance. The first found Shaun Wright-Phillips in full flight, and the little winger sent a stunning volley past a helpless Ger Doherty. The second allowed Adam Johnson to run on and beat Doherty with ease.

The Airtricity team's best move saw Daryl Kavanagh take the ball to the end line and cross to substitute Joe Gamble, who somehow contrived to miss the target from eight yards.

Substitute Luca Scapuzzi, an Italian on trial with City, made it 3-0 after 84 minutes when he was played in by Johnson and beat the offside trap for a simple finish.

Early on, Wright-Phillips was a livewire for City and he tested Doherty after three minutes, but eight minutes later he took a James McClean rocket free straight into his private parts, and that put a halt to his gallop for most of the remainder of the first half.

The Celtic supporters amused themselves by booing every move former Rangers loanee Vladimir Weiss made. And when Weiss was replaced after 65 minutes, they roared their appreciation.

Two players managed to earn yellow cards -- Danny Murphy for a foul on Weiss, and Ryan McGivern for kicking the ball away.

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