by Darren Walsh
Got the game on RTE tonight, Darragh Maloney is taking the place of Bill O’Herlihy; not sure if he can contain things when Giles and Dunphy get going after the game. Doubtful that Ray Houghton will let their criticisms get to him like Liam Brady does though.
Edin Dzeko gets his chance to start a game. Interesting to see if he can impact a game the way he has from the bench lately.
The teams line up for the CL anthem, and straight away you can see the difference in size between the teams. City might just bundle them off the pitch tonight.
Ryan Babel is wearing number 49; I’m not a fan of high numbers on football jerseys. Could be worse I guess; a young sub for City is wearing number 74.
We have a shot of Mario Balotelli on the bench; his expression suggests that he’s not quite fully invested in watching the game.
Ajax might be physically slight, but they’re showing their skills right now. Pinging the ball around and getting a nice shot on goal too.
Lescott does not look comfortable on the ball at the moment. Maybe he knows that it’s one mistake and Mancini will take him out of the team again.
Yaya Toure goes down with an injury that needs attention, and George Hamilton says that seems to happen in each game that Toure plays. Can’t say I’ve spotted that with him; noticed it with William Gallas though during Spurs matches. He’s either a total drama queen or his thighs are made of twigs and sticky tape.
The imagination and passing angles taken by Ajax are a lot of fun to watch. Probably the best I’ve seen since…well…. Dortmund the other week.
But despite all the good work by Ajax, they concede when Milner sets up Nasri to curl into the far corner.
Funny to see the home fans when Nasri is lining up a corner. They shout stuff at him but do it with a smile on their faces, which is quite a bit different to a stadium in England where there would be no smile and a hand gesture would almost certainly be added.
The left-back Daley Blind is having a rough game. He was nowhere to be seen as City attacked on his side for the goal, and once again he has become invisible as Micah Richards had a run and a shot on target. Straight after that he commits a blatant obstruction on Dzeko and gets booked.
I thought that Ajax were a bit muted and the goal had knocked the stuffing out of them. However, a low cross comes in and De Jong is able to hit it first time into the bottom corner. Great technique to strike the ball like that, and a handy time to score just before the break too.
The teams walk back onto the field after halftime. Nasri has a face on him that suggests he’s been complaining a bit in the dressing room.
Micah Richards pulls off a Chris Brass move; i.e. hitting the ball off his own face. In this case however, it goes for a corner rather than into the net.
Gael Clichy appeals for a City goal kick when the ball goes out, but he directs the appeal at the fifth official rather than the linesman. C’mon Gael, you really think that even if he’s in the best position, he’s going to make the decision?
And from that corner, Moisander glances it in for the lead. No one on the posts for City; I always wonder why so many teams overlook that.
Kolorov on for Lescott, with Clichy playing as part of a three man defence. Seems a bit risky against Ajax’s 4-3-3, especially with the way they push the full-backs forward.
Barry loses the ball and Christian Eriksen runs with it, scores with the help of a deflection off Clichy.
Nearly 4-1 as Sana runs through, but Joe Hart spreads himself and saves. He might have looked a bit ropey on crosses lately, but there’s no one better in one-on-one situations.
Vermeer matches that save as Dzeko is clean through, and then he denies Dzeko again as the Bosnian rounds him but can’t get a shot away quick enough to take advantage.
Ok, I have no idea what formation City are playing now. There are four strikers on the field anyway, with Balotelli and Tevez sprung from the bench. Maybe Mancini has been taken over by the spirit of ex-Ajax boss Louis van Gaal, who once played four frontmen against Ireland but forgot to keep anyone on the field who could pass to them.
Ryan Babel just busted a gut to win the ball back. Somewhere Rafa Benitez is rubbing his eyes in disbelief.
Game over, and maybe Champion’s League over for City? Borussia Dortmund beat Real Madrid, which was possibly the worst result that City could have had there. They’re now five points behind second place and will need a revival of Newcastle 02/03 proportions in the last three games.