By William Wood | In Match Reports - Home Games
Manchester City strengthened their grip on the Premier League’s fourth-place, seeing off Alex McLeish’s Birmingham City 5-1 at the City of Manchester.
Micah’s knee problems continued as he was forced to sit out, and the 21-year old was joined by Patrick Vieira who was a late withdrawal.
For the away side, in-form stopper Joe Hart was missing under the terms of his loan move from the Eastlanders, and his presence was to be sorely missed as City comprehensively dismantled their opponents.
City’s superiority wasn’t clear in the early stages, however, as they picked apart Birmingham’s backline only for a combination of hesitation and mis-control to undo their efforts.
Carlos Tevez saw a snapshot flash just wide, whilst Emmanuel Adebayor’s toe-poke was well-saved by 38-year old Maik Taylor.
A full 35 minutes passed before City won over the home faithful and grabbed the lead in a six minute spell that reaped four goals between the two teams.
Adebayor was brought down in the box and Tevez sent Taylor the wrong way to make it 1-0, though Roberto Mancini will have acknowledged that his side were below part up to that point.
With the crowd in full voice, the hosts grabbed a quickfire second as Nedum Onuoha rose highest to head home, though the celebrations were cut short as Birmingham made it 2-1.
James McFadden – ever the enigma with the ball at his feet – twisted and turned before picking out Cameron Jerome at the far post, and the forward slotted beyond Shay Given with little problem.
However, there was just a minute gap between that and City’s third as Craig Bellamy’s pace took him through on goal, and his inch-perfect lay-off to Adebayor allowed the Togo international to fire his side’s third as the fans in the ground struggled to keep up.
Birmingham may have felt hard-done by at half-time, but in truth City’s clinical eye for goal justified their lead, and Lee Bowyer was lucky not to give away a penalty as he seemingly held Onuoha back as the defender connected with a cross early in the second half.
McLeish’s men had a chance to grab a second of their own as the City defence misjudged Liam Ridgewell’s ball in and Keith Fahey sent it wide with the goal at his mercy, and Given saved another effort with his legs minutes later to maintain his side’s advantage.
The sustained Birmingham pressure eventually subsided as the game reaches its latter stages, and City regained the initiative as Tevez and then Bellamy were denied by Taylor.
The veteran, though, was helpless as his backline allowed Onuoha to charge through and angle his shot into the far post to make it 4-1, somewhat securing the three points with 15 minutes still to play.
Mancini decided to ring the changes as his players tired, but Adebayor still had enough energy in him to capitalise on a defensive error and race clear, firing home to add a second personally, a fifth for City.
Sebastien Larsson’s superbly hit half-volley looked goal-bound only for it to curl away from goal at the last minute, and the final whistle was blown to seal an impressive performance from City which cements their position in the driving seat for the final Champions League spot.
Man City: Given, Onuoha, Kompany, Toure, Garrido, Adam Johnson, Vieira, Barry, Bellamy, Tevez, Adebayor. Subs: Nielsen, Wright-Phillips, Santa Cruz, De Jong, Boyata, Cunningham, Ibrahim.
Birmingham: Taylor, Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell, Gardner, Bowyer, Ferguson, Fahey, Jerome, McFadden. Subs: Doyle, Larsson, Phillips, Benitez, Michel, Parnaby, Vignal.
Man City: Tevez (38’, pen), Onuoha (40’, 74’), Adebayor (43’, 88’)
Birmingham: Jerome (42’)