By William Wood | In Match Reports - Away Games
A Stephen Ireland goal deep into first-half injury time handed Manchester City a 1-0 win over Kaizer Chiefs in the Vodacom Challenge, a fixture that Micah sat out of.
A 2-0 loss for City at the hands of Orlando Pirates in their opening clash in South Africa preceded this game, and Mark Hughes switched his side around in front of a packed crowd at the ABSA Stadium in Durban.
The Chiefs and David Mathebula had the first half-chance of the match, firing in from long range and watching as the ball sailed just over Stuart Taylor’s goal.
Thomas Sweswe was in the thick of the action early on, blocking Ireland’s shot within the first ten minutes before sending a volley agonisingly wide at the other end.
Ireland could and perhaps should have edged City in front with 18 minutes on the clock, bursting through his opponent’s defence and goal-wards only for Itumeleng Khune to stand his ground.
Gareth Barry, looking to make an impression in City’s midfield following his move from Aston Villa, was fed through by Felipe Caicedo with 30 minutes gone, but the England international’s shot lacked the necessary accuracy to threaten the deadlock.
The home favourites countered, Motaung Junior latching on to a pass following a fine move before striking the ball into the side-netting, while Punch Masenamela almost caught Taylor out with a snap-shot from distance which required the keepers full attention.
As the game appeared to be drawing to a stalemate conclusion after the first 45 minutes, Kelvin Etuhu broke from midfield before picking out Ireland, and the club’s Player of the Year for last season tapped the ball home.
Mathebula increasingly posed the biggest threat for The Chiefs, going close with a free-kick within minutes of the re-start and then forcing another solid stop from Taylor.
Martin Petrov, hoping for a more injury-free season than last term, unleashed a dangerous ball across his opponent’s penalty area only for it to evade his own teammates, while Shaun Wright-Phillips acrobatically missed the target having been picked out by a pinpoint cross.
Motaung had another opportunity to level the scores when he broke through one-on-one with Taylor only for his shot to go wide, and at the other end Etuhu could have doubled City’s lead but instead blasted high and wide