Match of the Year...no doubt about it.

So, I finally got a chance to catch the 4th Round FA Cup replay between Tottenham Scumspur and Manchester City. WOW. Just...wow. The FA Cup has a long history of improbable comebacks and upsets, but I think this one just may eclipse them all.

Two minutes in, the Scum are up 1-0. By halftime, it's 3-0 (all credit to them, every single one of the goals had a top-quality finish). Even worse for City (that is, besides the fact that they had won 2 out of the last 19 or something in that neighborhood), Joey Barton got himself sent off in an extremely strange fashion. Now, let it be said that Barton, though a tough, hard-working midfielder, is more trouble than he's worth with all the stupid cards he takes. And, arguing with this particular ref (Rob Styles, who is notorious for being quick on the draw with the red card), is an exercise in stupidity. However, Styles said himself that Barton didn't use foul or abusive language, which is the ONLY time a second yellow should come out, barring the argument being oddly persistent. Again, refs need to closely consider when and why they show anyone red, because 90% of the time, it's going to determine the outcome of the game.

To sum up: Man City, playing as poorly as they were, found themselves down 3-0 after 45 minutes, and faced an entire second half with only ten men. I've seen this type of game before, and it usually ends up in 5-0 or 6-0 territory. But, again, this is the FA Cup, and weird, improbable things can and do happen.

Just a few minutes into the second half, though, it became apparent that City wasn't going to allow themselves to be embarrassed. A very nice cross found its way to Sylvain Distin, who cooly finished past Keller...3-1, with the entire second half to go. The thing that struck me most of all was the pure BELIEF flowing from everyone involved with the side in light blue. The players believed, the fans believed, Kevin Keegan believed...and, it became very apparent that Tottenham were panicking already. They started giving away the ball, making mistakes defensively, and City started to completely boss the game. The Scum couldn't get past the City midfield most times, and it was fantastic.

However, the few times they did break through, Arni Arason (making his debut in City's net due to David James being cup-tied) made some absolutely fantastic saves to keep the Scum at 3...if they had scored a fourth, then I think even City's belief and spirit wouldn't have been enough. Then, around the 60th or so, a fortituous deflection off a Scum defender looped over Keller and in, and anyone watching the game live HAD to have known that something special was likely in the offing.

When Shaun Wright-Phillips capped off a brilliant individual move to level the scores, that alone would have been enough to have City go down as one of the most spirited sides in FA Cup history. But, they weren't done. Tottenham had the whiff of death around them, and Man City, to their credit, cashed in before the Scum could get to injury time (where they could likely have regrouped). With seconds left in injury time, Tarnat's picture-perfect cross was met by Jon Macken, whose looping header curled over Keller and in...speaking of which, I feel so bad for that guy. He's not an elite goalkeeper anymore, but he deserves better than slumming it with such a terrible approximation of a real Premiership side.

That said, the real irony here is that Man City worked so hard, only to get destroyed by Man United in the 5th round. Wow.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?