By William Wood | In Match Reports - Away Games
Manchester City cruised to a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth at the City of Manchester to bolster their claims for a Champions League spot, though Micah sat out the clash due to a calf injury.
The obvious disparity in wealth between the two clubs was evident for all, with City enjoying a lavish of riches as hey re-introduced, to name but one, Emmanuel Adebayor, to the starting line up, whilst Avram Grant was still having to contend himself with a makeshift squad, though he was able to name seven substitutes.
It was, though, Pompey who had the first chance of the game, Shay Given misjudging a cross but John Utaka equally misjudging his volley, sending the ball over from eight yards out much to the dismay of the travelling support.
Jamie O’Hara – who was to prove one of the few effective performances for the away side throughout the afternoon – similarly went close with a low drive which Given saved to his right, whilst Stephen Ireland saw his own shot on goal deflected behind as he looked to drive City’s motors.
Carlos Tevez has rarely been off the back pages recently and it was he then teed up Ireland again, an apparent handball going unpunished by the referee as the Irishman controlled, but his tame shot was comfortable for David James.
Roberto Mancini’s men were struggling to find any sort of rhythm, but they still posed a threat from set pieces as Vincent Kompany repeatedly found space in Pompey’s shaky defence, but twice his headers missed their target.
The struggling south coast outfit almost took the lead with 36 minutes gone, Utaka’s backheel setting up Anthony Vanden Borre, but the Belgian’s shot deflected off Kompany and on to the bar, eventually being cleared from danger as the City fans became more vocal in their calls for improvement.
The appeals were heard, and Ireland it was who got the ball rolling. His sliced ball through the centre of Portsmouth’s backline was collected by Adebayor, and the Togo international took one touch before firing beyond James and into the back of the net.
Grant was seemingly instructing his men to shore up until half-time, but he will have been furious to see his side go a further goal down as Kompany finally found his range with a minute of the first-half remaining. Martin Petrov whipped in the cross from the left and it was the giant defender who connected with a fierce header to make it 2-0.
The only ray of hope for Portsmouth came in the form of on-loan midfielder O’Hara, and his slick one-two in midfield saw him unleash another dangerous-looking shot which curled just wide.
With his side two goals to the good, Petrov attempted a shot from a free-kick no less than 40-yards from James’ goal-line, but the stopper was perfectly placed to catch, while Angelos Basinas’ 30-yard drive saw Given make a fine save, only for Webber to make a hash of the follow up.
The let off spurred City on further and Tevez went close with 15 minutes remaining as his cushioned effort hit the outside of the post, and Gareth Barry’s header from six-yards after a fine ball in by Craig Bellamy was off-target when in truth it should have hit the back of the net.
City held on for the win which lifts them to sixth, level on points with Liverpool but with two games in hand still to play, whilst Micah will be hopeful of returning to action within two weeks.
Man City: Given, Zabaleta, Toure, Kompany, Garrido, De Jong, Ireland, Barry, Petrov, Tevez, Adebayor. Subs: Taylor, Onuoha, Wright-Phillips, Sylvinho, Bellamy, Boyata, Ibrahim.
Portsmouth: James, Vanden Borre, Ben-Haim, Wilson, Hreidarsson, Mullins, Basinas, O’Hara, Webber, Utaka, Boateng. Subs: Ashdown, Piquionne, Finnan, Hughes, Owusu-Abeyie, Ritchie, Sowah.
Man City: Adebayor (40’), Kompany (45’)