Goals from Emmanuel Adebayor, and Belgian centre-back Vincent Kompany added to Portsmouth’s problems, as The Blues fought out a hard victory at home. An encounter with stubborn side Portsmouth was always going to be a tough test after the disappointing League Cup exit midweek to Manchester United, and despite Portsmouth’s current financial state and difficulties, the South-Coast outfit gave it a real go, in hope of restoring some happiness to the club. Mr. Mancini reintroduced captain, Kolo Toure back into the side at the expense of promising centre back Dedryck Boyata. Micah Richards was also resorted to the bench with Pablo Zabaleta slotting into his conventional right back position. Welsh wizard Craig Bellamy and Shaun Wright Phillips were also rested with Martin Petrov starting again on the right with Gareth Barry on the left. Also to mixed views from Blues fans, Emmanuel Adebayor returned to the Manchester City starting line up partnering prolific hit-man, Carlos Tevez in a 4-4-2 formation.
As for Portsmouth, Avram Grant re-introduced David James back to the starting XI replacing Asmir Begovic, whose portsmouth future still hangs in the balance, as talks with Stoke City are still ongoing. Reports even suggested that Begovic had gone AWOL in disrepute to the current situation regarding his future at the club. Hayden Mullins made the starting XI starting in a 3 man midfield, with midweek goal-scorer Danny Webber started in place of top scorer Frederic Piquionne. Jamie O’Hara who recently sealed a loan move back to Portsmouth from Tottenham also started alongside regular starter Boateng and Mullins.
Portsmouth opened the game in a fairly attacking fashion, with John Utaka’s driving run at goal being only halted by a late Javier Garrido challenge. Manchester City started fairly slowly, happy to let Portsmouth come forward and see off any attacking threat. This could’ve been a sign of Manchester City’s players adjusting to the tactics enforced by Mancini, or simply a slow style of play. City could easily have fallen behind when Shay Given dropped a cross and Javier Garrido desperately hacked the ball clear within the first 15 minutes, but apart from that, the blues seen off any possible attack. Within the first 15 minutes, a weak penalty shout was met by a decision favouring and city, and from this point forward the citizens started to control the game.
Stephen Ireland, shown glimpses of what he’s capable of achieving for him and his comrades at their best, with Gareth Barry adapting to his wide left position after a substantial amount of time. As the blues started to control the games proceedings, surprisingly it was Portsmouth who had the best chance of the half, but with Utaka’s effort hitting the bar, Portsmouth continued to defend for the remainder of the half. And then a breakthrough – Emmanuel Adebayor in his first game from the horrific Togo team bus shooting, latched onto the end of a through ball and calmly put the ball past former City shot-stopper David James on the 40 minute mark. Adebayor, rightly so simply collected the ball from the net, and looked to the skies. Belgian central defensive rock, Vincent Kompany added to city’s goal tally and put the blues 2-0 ahead on the 1st minute of added time, giving the blues a two goal advantage heading in at the break.
As the second half’s proceedings got under way, it started in the similar fashion to how the first 45 minutes ended with Portsmouth providing a risky counter attacking threat, but on a whole City were in control, however a goal was necessary for the Blues to put the game to bed for the blues. However, it was City who was better off after 90 minutes, with the game ending in a 2-0 victory to the Blues. City climb to sixth, joint on points with Liverpool in 5th, with two games in hand.
In post match interviews, Blues boss Roberto Mancini was keen to praise Adebayor for his temperament, and conduct throughout the game and respected his contribution to the final result. Mancini eagerly stated:
‘“I am happy for Adebayor because he scored an important goal and showed that he is a big player. I know the situation has been tough for him. What he has experienced was an incredible situation. I hope, and I think, that he can forget this. He needs to play, see his family and do what he does best”.
Manchester City’s next tie is a trip to the KC Stadium, where City hope to leave with a full three points, after ending the last encounter with the Tigers in a 1-1 stalemate; a tie more famously known for Jimmy Bullard’s infamous celebration impersonating, Phil Brown’s infamous on the pitch team-talk in December 2008.