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  • 1 January 2011
  • • 20:30
  • • Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Referee: M. Clattenburg
  • • Attendance: 47296
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Manchester City 1-0 Blackpool: Deflected Adam Johnson Efforts Keeps Blues On Manchester United's Tail

Premier League

Manchester City 1-0 Blackpool: Deflected Adam Johnson Efforts Keeps Blues On Manchester United's Tail

By Matt Monaghan at Eastlands

A deflected Adam Johnson shot saw Manchester City beat Blackpool and keep pace with Premier League leaders Manchester United.

An uncharacteristically profligate performance from Carlos Tevez kept the visitors in the contest as he scuffed a 35th minute penalty. ian Holloway's men kept their big-ending opponents honest and produced fine saves from Joe Hart to panic the Eastlands faithful.

Blues boss Roberto Mancini was without Mario Balotelli as the hat-trick hero from the 4-0 demolition of Aston Villa failed to recover from a knee knock. The Italian made four changes with top scorer Tevez, Gareth Barry, Aleksandar Kolarov and Jerome Boateng drafted in.

For the visitors, star midfielder Charlie Adam returned after he was suspended for the 2-0 victory against Sunderland. The Scot slotted into the starting side in place of the injured Elliot Grandin, as Matt Phillips dropped to the substitute's bench.

Manager Holloway's heart was in his mouth from kick-off as Adam played a suicidal back-pass straight to hot shot Tevez. The Argentine was immediately closed down by Manchester United youth product Craig Cathcart and dragged his effort narrowly wide of Richard Kingson's post.

As has become their trademark, the swashbuckling Seasiders' bounced back and got behind the City defence in the third minute as Gary Taylor-Fletcher latched onto a long pass. A combination of the retreating Kolarov and Hart prevented the wide-man from finding the back of the net.

The sides continued to trade possession and in the 14th minute, Hart had to be at his best to palm away a curled Taylor-Fletcher effort. The Scouser shot after the impressive Ludovic Sylvestre played him in following a ricochet from a low Adam piledriver from outside the penalty box.

The Eastlands crowd got increasingly agitated by a perceived bias from referee Mark Clattenburg and a lack of effort from some of their favourites. The mood began to lift in the 19th minute when an onrushing David Silva poked just wide of Kingson's post when set up by the shimmying Tevez.

The Argentine immediately followed up in the next attack with an effort from distance right down the Ghana international's throat after the ball came his way.

Silva then shot wide of the same post again in the 26th minute as he attempted to loop back an Ian Evatt header with a difficult volley from just inside the area.

Despite the opportunities, City remained unable to stamp their authority on the game. A pass straight into touch from Vincent Kompany saw Mancini charge out of his dugout in an attempt to shake off the New Year's Day rust.

Blackpool's refusal to cede to their financially superior opponents ensured space continued to be left. Yaya Toure turned David Vaughan smartly on the half-way line on 32 minutes and played in Tevez, whose shot was tipped over by Kingson.

A mad few minutes followed. City first took the lead in the 34th minute through a deflected shot from right winger Adam Johnson.

The England man picked up on a clearance from a corner 20 yards out and hammered a low drive into Stephen Crainey which left Kingson with no chance.

Almost from the restart, Blackpool got into a muddle on the sideline and the ball was picked up by Toure. The Ivorian was rugby tackled by Luke Varney in the penalty box and left Clattenburg with no choice but to point to the spot.

Remarkably, Tevez dragged his effort wide of Kingson's right stick to keep the score down.

Johnson, who had already received an earful from Mancini about a lack of effort earlier in the half, then wasted another chance on 42 minutes. The wide-man was put into space by the dominant Toure but selfishly cut back into the pack of retreating Blackpool defenders rather than play in Silva and his shot was deflected into Kingson's hands.

The sides then soon headed to the warmth of the dressing rooms with the visitor's still in a game that should really had now been beyond them. Regret at Tevez's miss was evident on all his team-mates' faces as they trudged in despite the lead.

The start of the second period saw Sylvestre withdrawn for exciting youngster Matt Phillips. The introduction of the Wycombe Wanderers' youth product saw a switch to a 4-4-2 formation, with Varney and DJ Campbell twinned up top.

Phillips immediately impressed and forced Kolarov onto the back foot. His 48th minute cross was header over by Varney before he left the Serb for dead on the half-way line and fired in a shot.

City refused to buckle under the Tangerines' adventure and Toure nearly charged through their entire defence in the 56th minute. Only an outstretched leg from Cathcart prevented the Ivorian from capping a fine display with a deserved goal.

Toure's class was again evident on 69 minutes when his incisive through ball put Tevez one-on-one with Kingson. In another example of an off-day from the striker he first dribbled past the goalkeeper before he stumbled and the ball was cleared when it looked easier to score.

Tevez's afternoon to forget continued five minutes later. Smart work and an accurate low centre from substitute James Milner on the left was ruined as Tevez waywardly sidefooted wide.

The Argentine seemed down in the dumps and even apologised to the watching City support.

This failure to put the game to bed had Eastlands on edge. Already frayed nerves were strained even more as right-back Neil Eardley produced an acrobatic save from Hart as he shot from distance in the 79th minute.

From a subsequent series of corner, Hart pushed over a header from replacement Brett Ormerod.

City regrouped and blocked out their plucky rivals with the introduction of midfield enforcer Patrick Vieira. Although, another fitful attack saw Mancini throw his gloves to the floor in disgust.

The Blues saw out the final minutes and held on to join United at the top of the standings despite Tevez's travails.

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