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A professional effort (City 2, Timişoara 0)

26 August 2010

Dedryck Boyata scores his first senior goal for Manchester City, putting the hosts up 2-0.

On a night comfortingly free of drama, City breezed to a comfortable 2-0 win over Timişoara at Eastlands for a 3-0 aggregate victory in their Europa League qualifying tie. The only surprising thing about it was Timişoara’s timidity — despite knowing they needed a goal, the visitors were content to bunker, almost as if looking to prevent potential embarrassment at the hands of their powerful opponent rather than trying to advance.

The starting XI predicted by the journos who watched City train yesterday turned out to be accurate, with the exception of Shay Given on the bench instead of in goal. This meant a night of for Carlos Tévez, The Brothers Touré, Gareth Barry, and Adam Johnson — along with James Milner, who wasn’t registered for the tie.

After a bland first half-hour or so, we saw yet another incisive ball from Patrick Vieira, his slide rule pass picking out Shaun Wright-Phillips on a slashing diagonal run, and the winger calmly finished. Vieira looked completely past it after signing with City last January, but he’s been finding his form. He’s lost a step and isn’t as combative or effective at disrupting opposition attacks, but the former Arsenal legend still can play a killer ball.

It was great to see Dedryck Boyata get his first City goal after halftime. The 19-year old turned in another strong performance at center back, much like he did this past winter when pressed into duty. Giving him Man of the Match may have been a bit much, but on a night when no one else managed to really stand out, why not.

The second goal signaled the beginning of an entertaining stretch where City, freed from worry about being upset, attempted to turn on the style. Initially, they created a number of decent chances, but couldn’t capitalize on any of them. Eventually, the flashiness disintegrated into sloppiness, as they began trying low-percentage passes in the quest for a showy goal.

David Silva was mostly invisible in the first half, as he tended to drift far away from goal. He pushed father forward after half time and made much more of an impact on the game. He would’ve notched his first goal in sky blue if not for a nice point-blank save by Timişoara’s gigantic keeper.

Jô was a mixed bag, his touch and decision-making letting him down on occasion, though he could have scored a pair of headers with better accuracy. Fellow striker Emmanuel Adebayor worked hard all match, and his endeavor nearly paid off in the form of a goal after harassing Timişoara’s defense into a mistake in front of goal.

I was looking forward to seeing Greg Cunningham when the young left back came on in the 62nd minute, but the 19-year old Irishman didn’t do much in his 30 minutes on the pitch. His most noticeable moment came when he badly scuffed a pass, leading to a semi-break by the visitors, which he helped break up by tracking back.

All in all, it was a decent night that saw City meet its objective of qualifying for the group stage of the Europa League while giving some starters a rest. Now it’s back to league play with Sunday’s trip to the Northeast to face Sunderland at The Stadium of Light. Let’s hope late heroics aren’t required to rescue a result this time.

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