Manchester City 4 Blues 1

Last updated : 17 December 2005 By Brian Cartlidge

Blues boss Steve Bruce made two changes changes from the side that recorded a first home victory of the season against Fulham last weekend with Jamie Clapham taking over at left midfield from Stan Lazaridis and Walter Pandiani replacing Emile Heskey whose wife went into labour shortly before the game at Eastlands. Bruce did somewhat surprisingly though include Heskey amongst his named substitutes.

The hosts came out of the blocks much the brighter and Darius Vassell almost scored the fastest goal of the season, but was denied by a save from Nico Vaesen after only 12 seconds.

However, from the resulting corner right-back David Sommeil fired the Citizens ahead with just 44 seconds on the clock. Antoine Sibierski headed a Sun Jihai corner towards goal and Vassell laid the pass back for Sommeil to score.

With Blues struggling to string two passes together Stuart Pearce's men produced some excellent attacking play as Vassell lobbed narrowly wide and Sibierski shot against the upright.

It was no surprise when they doubled their lead after 15 minutes after Vaesen brought down Vassell, who had burst through on goal. The keeper was booked and then had to pick the ball out of the net for a second time as Joey Barton scored from the resulting spot kick.

Manchester continued to attack relentlessly with the ever dangerous Sibierski forcing Vaesen to make two excellent saves, each time to keep out headers.

Bruce made two first-half substitutions, bringing on Mikael Forssell in place of the awful Olivier Tebily and Jermaine Pennant for David Dunn, but the changes failed to improve Blues' fortunes and five minutes before half-time, Sibierski added a richly deserved third.

Sun was tripped by Damien Johnson and the Frenchman beat Vaesen to Barton's free-kick and headed into the empty goal.

The home side were almost as quick out of the blocks at the start of the second period. Within 90 seconds of the restart Vaesen had made excellent saves to deny Vassell and Barton.

Perhaps it was inevitable that they could not maintain the intensity of the first half, but they still managed to score a fourth as substitute Bradley Wright-Phillips found the net a little over a minute after make his entrance as a substitute.

The 20-year-old got onto the end of a Sibierski knock down and found the net with a sweetly-struck shot from the edge of the area.

Blues grabbed a 76th-minute consolation when substitute Jiri Jarosik, on in place of Pandiani, cut in from the right and drilled a left foot shot low past David James from the edge of the area.

However, Blues' misery was completed in stoppage-time when Vaesen, booked earlier for conceding the penalty, was sent off for somewhat dubiously handling the ball outside the area, a decision which I'm sure Blues may well contest. Midfielder Stephen Clemence took over in goal for the remaining seconds as Blues had by that time used all of their three substitutions.