By William Wood | In Match Reports - Away Games
Micah was in fine form as Manchester City kicked-off the new Barclays Premier League season with a 2-0 victory away at Blackburn Rovers.
A goal within three minutes from new signing Emmanuel Adebayor put City in the lead, and while the Togo international will share a large part of the headlines in tomorrow’s newspapers, City’s defence were an equally impressive aspect of the side’s performance.
Mark Hughes had a number of new options within his ranks, opting for an attacking line-up which included Adebayor, Robinho and player of the year Stephen Ireland.
As both sides settled into the pattern of the game, however, it was Rovers who went close to breaking the deadlock early on, Benni McCarthy’s header cleared off the line by captain Richard Dunne.
However, seconds later City seized the lead, Adebayor instigating the move with a pass out wide to Shaun Wright-Phillips before collecting a perfectly-weighted return pass and blasting the ball beyond Paul Robinson.
The goal was a perfect way for the former Arsenal striker to answer his critics, though the hosts continued to probe only to be faced by a stern defence from Micah, Kolo Toure and Dunne in particular.
Adebayor was a lively opponent for Blackburn’s own backline, almost capitalising on Christopher Samba’s fluffed header back to Robinson before Gael Givet cleaned up the danger.
Samba did make amends for his error mid-way through the first-half, connecting powerfully with a corner only to see Shay Given dive to his left to make a fine save.
McCarthy was next up to test City’s resolve, working an opening after collecting the ball in the six-yard box, but Micah was alert to the danger and slid in impressively to deflect the shot away from goal.
Another summer recruit, Gareth Barry, took to City’s team like a duck to water, and it was from his deep left-footed cross that Robinho could have added a second for Hughes’ men, but instead the Brazil international could only flick the ball behind for a goal-kick.
That was the last meaningful event of the first 45 minutes, with City sitting comfortably in front while Blackburn enjoyed spells of possession with no end product.
The teams returned and it was a case of as we were in the opening minutes of the second-half, Blackburn pelting long-balls into City’s box and the Eastlander’s defence holding firm.
Micah appeared to have returned to near-full fitness as he won most of his aerial challenges as well as using his strength to outmuscle Jason Roberts on a number of occasions, while Toure was commanding the defence well from the middle.
Lars Jacobsen managed to burst down the right side of Blackburn’s midfield before picking out Roberts, but Given was once again on hand to divert the ball behind and preserve City’s lead.
Pleasingly for the travelling City fans, Robinho was a more prominent figure for City, and he almost netted in the 60th minute as he curled in a left-footed effort only for Robinson to dive to his right to make a solid block.
As Blackburn devoted more men to their attack, gaps opened in their defence and Craig Bellamy used his pace to burst beyond several opponents before laying the ball off to Adebayor.
The striker turned and only had to play the ball into Ireland’s stride for a sure-fire second, but instead the ball fell behind the midfielder and his subsequent shot lacked both power and accuracy to trouble Robinson.
The City faithful were in full voice as another new boy, Carlos Tevez, was introduced and moments later bust behind Blackburn’s defence, only to see his sliced shot across goal collected by Blackburn’s stopper.
There were worrying moments as Micah was brought down by a late challenge from Stephen Warnock, writhing on the ground in agony, but to the City staff’s relief the 21-year old returned to his feet and jogged off the knock in the closing minutes.
Samba was pushed forward by Sam Allardyce as the hosts looked for an equaliser and the move coincided with City’s second, Ireland evading Givet’s challenge before cutting back inside, biding his time before side-footing the ball into the back of the goal.
It was a comprehensive performance from City who did what they needed to do in securing the three points against Hughes’ former side, with the defence in particular a satisfying component of what was the perfect start to the 2009-2010 league campaign.
Blackburn: Robinson; Jacobsen, Samba, Givet, Warnock, Diouf, Andrews, Nzonzi, Pedersen; Roberts, McCarthy. Subs: Brown, Grella, Khizanishvili, Gallagher, Olsson, Hoilett, Di Santo.
Man City: Given; Richards, Dunne, Toure, Bridge, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Barry; Bellamy, Robinho; Adebayor. Subs: Taylor, Onuoha, Zabaleta, Petrov, Tevez, De Jong, Weiss.
Blackburn Rovers: None
Manchester City: Adebayor (4’), Ireland (91’)