Tuesday 20 February 2018

Sylvinho pounces to break brave Iron’s will

Hayes 29, Boyata og 69
Petrov 3, Onuoha 45, Sylvinho 57, Robinho 84

Jon Culley

CITY had been knocked out by a Championship side in each of the last two seasons, but any suspicions that Roberto Mancini’s team might not have the stomach to see off another ambitious underdog on a damp and murky afternoon in Lincolnshire were dispelled, in the end, quite emphatically, earning a home tie with Stoke City in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Doughty Scunthorpe, fighting for survival in the second tier, were good enough to equalise after slipping behind early and came back a second time to be 3-2 behind with 20 minutes left. They were put in their place ultimately by perhaps the least likely figure as Robinho, making what is widely tipped as his farewell appearance of his largely forgettable time at City, signed off with their fourth goal, before being immediately substituted.

There was no doubt this was a tie with banana-skin potential. Scunthorpe, who would never pretend to be anything but a small club, were in League One last season and their Glanford Park ground, considered modern and progressive when it was opened in the 80s, looks a little dated now. It holds only 9,000 spectators but they sit close to the narrow pitch and in the damp chill of yesterday afternoon there was no mistaking which was the away side.

Yet City, who made eight changes yesterday from the side that took a step towards Wembley in the Carling Cup last week, were ahead even before the home crowd had anything to be excited about. There did not seem much point to the series of extravagant stepovers that Robinho chose to perform as he looked for options outside the Scunthorpe penalty area but when, eventually, he sent the ball left, Martin Petrov went past Garry Thompson in a blur before lashing a left-foot drive between the angle of post and bar as keeper Joe Murphy flapped helplessly.

It was not good defending, but Scunthorpe put it behind them quickly and went about their business with no sign of panic. They had been thumped 5-1 when the sides met at Eastlands in the Carling Cup last November. But there was no Carlos Tevez to worry about, the Argentine getting the day off ahead of Wednesday’s return semifinal against Manchester United, while Craig Bellamy and Shaun Wright-Phillips started on the bench and Scunthorpe’s plan to press City in their own half paid off.

After a Martyn Woolford shot had curled narrowly wide, they squandered two chances that seemed unmissable; Cliff Byrne somehow heading against the bar when a Gary Hooper cross found him unmarked at the far post, Paul Hayes then scuffing wide from close range as the home defence continued to wobble.

But persistence gained its reward. When Woolford hoisted an up-andunder as City’s back four pushed out, Hayes was deemed to be onside as the ball dropped and his volley gave City debutant Stuart Taylor no chance. It was something of a shame then, after working so hard to put themselves back on equal terms, that the home side conceded again in the dying moments of the half, full-back Nedum Onuoha slipping behind their defence to pick up a clever pass from Stephen Ireland and restore City’s lead.

Eight minutes into the second half, only a fingertip save from Taylor denied Scunthorpe a second equaliser, but when Sylvinho’s superb dipping shot from 30 yards provided City with a third goal, Mancini’s passage to the fifth round looked assured.

But Murphy kept Scunthorpe in the hunt with a triple save and after Byrne’s shot found the net via a deflection off Dedryck Boyata, City faced potentially a tough last 20 minutes before their name went into the draw. Yet the home side could not quite conjure the storming finish they wanted and instead, as City imposed their quality, Petrov set up Robinho for an effortless final goal and, perhaps, a parting celebration in front of the travelling fans.

Scunthorpe United (4-4-2): Murphy; Byrne, Jones (Milne, 82), Mirfin, Williams; Thompson, McCann (Wright, 88), Togwell, Woolford; Hayes (Forte, 88), Hooper. Substitutes not used: Lillis (gk), Sparrow, May, Crosby.

Manchester City (4-3-3): Taylor; Onuoha, Boyata, Kompany, Sylvinho; Ireland (Zabaleta, 66), De Jong (Cunningham, h-t), Ibrahim; Robinho (Bellamy, 85), Benjani, Petrov. Substitutes not used: Nielsen, Richards, Wright-Phillips, Barry.

Referee: K Friend (Leicestershire).

Booked: Manchester City Cunningham.

Man of the match: Petrov.

Attendance: 8,861.

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