By Robert Morris
Manchester City entertained Polish champions Lech Poznan who travelled in high spirits having topped Europa League Group A prior to this evening’s kick-off. A 3-3 thriller away to Juventus proved that Lech have the ability to score goals on the big stage, however, their hat-trick hero from that eventful evening in Turin, Artjoms Rudnevs, was left on the bench. City had made some changes of their own as Carlos Tevez, James Milner, Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure were all rested with one eye on Sunday’s league fixture against Arsenal.
Emmanuel Adebayor (photo) was given a rare start and although the Togolese striker failed to impress in City’s win against Blackpool last week, this time he made sure to open his account for the season in emphatic style. A neat through pass from Patrick Vieira found Adebayor inside the box; he span his marker with consummate ease before slotting home a cool effort into the bottom right hand corner of the goal. With just 13 minutes on the clock, City had taken the lead.
12 minutes later they made it 2-0. A lofted cross from David Silva found Adebayor who glanced a precise header into the bottom right corner of Jasmin Buric’s net. The scoreline perhaps flattered City, as Lech had looked bright and refused to be intimidated by their wealthy counterparts. Lech started the second-half with renewed optimism, and they were gifted a scrappy goal just five minutes in when a failed clearance fell to the feet of Joel Tshibamba who showed good composure to finish. This goal gave Lech the impetus to grab a result and began to unsettle the Blues defence. City’s attack also seemed anxious, as Adebayor wasted a great chance to grab his hat-trick and kill the game.
Adebayor would soon make amends for his earlier mistake when a delightful cross from Silva found the striker in acres of space. The ex-Arsenal star showed a cool-head as he slotted home to grab City’s first ever hat-trick in a European fixture. A late effort from Adam Johnson almost made it four and would have capped a fine personal display; however, his neat dribbling skills lead to a devilish curling effort that was prevented by the frame of the goal.
3-1 was a fair reflection of the game. Both sides had their share of opportunities, however, City’s quality in the final-third proved to be the real difference. Although, Adebayor will receive the plaudits for his hat-trick, an honourable mention must go to David Silva. The Spaniard is beginning to show the kind of form that made him a household name in his home country.
Manchester City now move three points clear at the top of Group A. Roberto Mancini must surely hold realistic ambitions to go on and win the Europa League.