It’s quite a badge of honour for City fans to have survived the second half of the 2006-07 season. If you remember – and you can hardly forget if you were there – it was the campaign where Manchester City played eight home Premier League matches after New Year’s Day and managed a grand total of zero goals.
Blackburn, Reading, Wigan, Chelsea, Charlton, Liverpool, Aston Villa, and Manchester United all rocked up at the City of Manchester Stadium and they all kept clean sheets. For today’s Halcyon Digest, ahead of Everton’s trip to the Etihad, we’re going back to Monday 1 January 2007 – where it was the Toffees who were the unfortunate team that were the last to concede away to Stuart Pearce’s team that campaign.
Following a Christmas period that had dragged City out of trouble, as they’d taken maximum points from their trips to Sheffield United and West Ham, the Blues played host to David Moyes’s Everton. The club’s record against their visitors was fairly poor and few expected Pearce’s team to make it three wins out of three.
The first half was a non-event. The best chance either side could muster was a turn-and-shot by Bernardo Corradi inside the six-yard box, but Joleon Lescott deflected it behind. City’s players appealed, but referee Uriah Rennie awarded only a corner.
Everton’s best effort – and weak header from Joseph Yobo – was comfortably saved by Nicky Weaver.
The game sparked into life in the second half. An Everton attack was swiftly broken up and Georgios Samaras brought the ball out of defence. After skipping past a couple of challenges, the centre-forward played it out to the left, where DaMarcus Beasley was motoring forward to help him out. The pass was slightly too far ahead of him and it almost tempted Tim Howard off his line, but the winger got there first.
Beasley crossed back first time for Samaras to touch through the legs of the goalkeeper and into the net to break the deadlock.
City doubled their lead with their final home league goal of the season. Darius Vassell, who looked second favourite to get there, chased a long ball with the Everton defence. However, Howard’s decision to come to collect put uncertainty in his back four and they slowed – allowing Vassell to touch the ball around the onrushing goalkeeper. Howard brought him down and it was a sure penalty.
Samaras stepped up and planted it into the right side of the net, just out of reach of the goalkeeper, giving his side a 2-0 advantage.
With six minutes to play, though, the home fans were put back on edge. A quick free kick was played wide and then crossed low into the City box, leaving Pearce’s side disorganised and unawares. Leon Osman, arriving late, smashed the ball back into the roof of the net.
City then survived a late scare when it appeared Sylvain Distin brought Osman down inside the box, but the referee awarded a corner and not a penalty – ruling that the defender had won the ball with his challenge. On closer inspection, he didn’t seem to get a touch.
That would be the last home Premier League match City would score in until Sven Goran Eriksson took charge and Michael Johnson found the net against Derby the following August. It also mark the end of a 17-match run without a goal for Samaras.
Afterwards, City boss Stuart Pearce was delighted for the striker:
“Georgios is a 21-year-old playing in the Premiership for the first time in his life. He’s a young man learning the game in the hardest league to learn. He has a fantastic aptitude to want to learn and he turned the game against Everton. Anyone who can do that in the Premier League has to be respected.”
Meanwhile, Everton manager David Moyes was disappointed:
“Our first-half performance merited more but our second-half performance didn’t merit anything. We didn’t create enough chances when we had the good play. But we should never put ourselves in the position where we lose a goal four minutes into the second half and then we gave away a bad second goal.”
You can view the highlights of the game right here:
City: Weaver, Onuoha, Dunne, Distin, Trabelsi (Miller 85), Richards, Dabo, Beasley, Jordan, Corradi (Samaras 46), Vassell.
Unused: Isaksson, Dickov, M Mills
City fans that were ecstatic at winning three on the bounce might have been delighted that Take That were back on the scene, too. Their Number One comeback hit Patience was still in the chart this week, sitting at Number Two.
After the match, anybody heading to the cinema might have been off to watch the rebooted James Bond franchise, as Daniel Craig starred in Casino Royale.
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Written by David Mooney.