By William Wood | In Micah's Say
Man-of-the-Match Micah was in fine form as his goal handed Manchester City a 1-0 win over Sunderland, and the 20-year old reflected on an impressive display exclusively with MicahRichards.com.
The header capped off an encouraging display down the right flank by the England international, a performance that also saw him win a penalty for Mark Hughes’ men and go close to setting up four goals.
The hosts went into the game looking for their eighth successive Premier League win over struggling Sunderland, and as early as the third minute Micah’s gallivanting runs from the right of City’s defence were causing Ricky Sbragia’s side problems.
A minute later a fine run by Shaun Wright-Phillips won the Eastlanders a corner, but Nedum Onouha was unable to direct his header down towards goal from the subsequent cross.
Brazilian midfielder Elano was at the heart of most of City’s attacks, and his trickery in the centre allowed Valeri Bojinov to play Wright-Phillips through one-on-one with Martin Fulop, but the former Chelsea midfielder chipped just wide of the post.
Controversy ensued with just 15 minutes on the clock as Wright-Phillips, whose pace was troubling Sunderland’s defence, looked to latch on to a through ball, but his effort was ended by a tug from George McCartney.
After negotiation with the linesman, referee Steve Tanner sent the experienced defender off much to the dismay of Sbragia, and his fury was heightened four minutes later as City were awarded a penalty.
Micah used his power to burst into Sunderland’s box only to be brought down by Steed Malbranque’s lunging challenge, though a disappointing spot-kick by Robinho was gratefully collected by Fulop to keep the scores level.
The home side continued to test the Sunderland defence, some fine play by Robinho and Elano allowing Vincent Kompany to fire towards goal, and with the effort deflected back towards Micah, the youngster’s own strike was eventually cleared behind for a corner.
Due to the nature of City’s possession Micah was prominently based in Sunderland’s half for much of the first-half, though he remembered his defensive duties with solid marshalling of Kenwyne Jones as the Black Cats striker tries to get in towards goal and a crunching tackle of Malbranque.
Early in the second-half Sunderland had a penalty shout of their own, Callum Davenport going down in the box under pressure from Richard Dunne, but replays suggested that the former Tottenham Hotspur fell to the ground too easily.
City continued to toil without any penetrative play against the men from the north east, with Bojinov and Micah combining well down the right before Wright-Phillips’ wayward effort sailed over.
As the crowd’s frustration rose, Micah finally found a way through with a well-directed header, connecting with Elano’s free-kick and finding the back of the net for the third goal of his City career, queuing relieved celebrations at the City of Manchester stadium.
Minutes later, another charge forward from Micah saw him pick out Elano in Sunderland’s penalty area, but the latter’s shot flew wide after a second goal had lucked certain.
A successful and tireless afternoon from Micah was brought to a premature end in the 85th minute as he was forced off with a hamstring strain, though he will be more than content with his performance as he received applause from the fans.
The game was still not won, however, and Grant Leadbitter’s effort after a goal-mouth scramble required a fine stop by Shay Given, while at the other end efforts from Elano and Gelson Fernandes were acrobatically saved by Fulop.
The match finally drew to a close after a tense final few minutes, and Hughes will be delighted with the three points, while Micah can reflect on top-draw performance against ten-man Sunderland.
“I was pleased with my performance today but the main thing was getting the win and the three points,” Micah said.
“The fans were great because they kept on cheering even when we were struggling to find a way through Sunderland’s defence.”
Micah’s winner came after a series of missed opportunities by City, and he was delighted to get his name on the scoresheet at long last.”
“It felt really good scoring as it’s been over two years since I last got a goal, and hopefully now I can go on and chip in with a few more!” he continued.
“It’s a massive boost to my confidence and I will look to build on this performance over the coming games.”
The only negative from the afternoon from Micah’s point of view was his early exit due to injury, and the youngster will have tests to find out the extent of the problem.