Club Focus – Manchester City – Tevez magic helps down Leicester City in FA Cup tie

When Mario Balotelli said of Wayne Rooney: ”He is a very good player but not the best in Manchester,” one assumes the notoriously confident Italian was referring to himself. His attacking team mate Carlos Tevez has consistently championed his own claims for best striker this season and did so again with an opening goal to help Manchester City fight past an improving Leicester City to reach the FA Cup fourth round.

The 4-2 scoreline suggests a level of control that City did not always possess. Indeed, progression was not assured until Aleksandar Kolarov’s left foot strike in the final minute secured the Serbian left-back his first goal for the club. Jangling nerves might have been assuaged much earlier had Tevez dispatched a penalty in the 57th minute. Instead the Argentine chose to drive the ball down the middle, allowing Leicester keeper Chris Weale to make a name for himself by stopping the shot with his feet.

Tevez’s second successive missed penalty was a rare blight on an otherwise impeccable performance. His goal, for the record, was another work of brilliance combining grit and guile. Scurrying infield from the right he forced his way past one challenge and, as the ball bobbled, rifled an unstoppable strike into the top corner. Rarely has Old Trafford celebrated a moment of Rooney magic in that vein over the past 12 months. Along with Tevez and company, David Silva once again deserved praise for his subtle touches and creativity, arguably unparalleled in English football.

Part of Manchester City’s charm is their history of complicating matters for themselves and, while potent in attack, it was at the other end of the pitch that the Citizens ran into trouble. True to form, Leicester’s Steve Howard bustled and muscled, providing Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott a challenge different to any they will face again this season. Lloyd Dyer’s thrusts inside from the right flank reflected Adam Johnson’s runs for City and it was from this position that the Leicester winger coaxed a rash challenge from Patrick Vieira. Where Tevez failed Paul Gallagher succeeded, driving the resulting penalty into the centre of the net.

As they did against Wolves at the weekend, City then assumed complete control of a game and two goals in two minutes should have been enough to kill off Championship opposition in an FA Cup tie. However, despite Vieira’s tap-in and Adam Johnson’s clinical curler – having timed his run to perfection – the visitors would not give in. When Lloyd Dyer got the goal his directness deserved the 6000 travelling Leicester fans suddenly sensed an equaliser. The Foxes mounted a series of late attacks but to no avail and Kolarov’s fine clincher probably seemed harsh on Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side.

City’s second four-goal haul in consecutive games was achieved without two-thirds of what Balotelli called: “the best (attack) in the world.” While there are clearly problems conceding goals, the prospect of Tevez, Balotelli and Edin Dzeko lining up in tandem no doubt has fans salivating. All of a sudden City seem to be an entertaining team to watch once more.

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