Manchester City snatch point at Blackburn

28 December 2008 07:41
Daniel Sturridge is not a name that will cause much of a stir in Abu Dhabi, but with Manchester City's ambitious and hugely wealthy owners ready to dispatch a blank chequebook to Eastlands in time for the opening of the transfer window on New Year's Day, they would be well advised to do some quick research on the teenaged forward who enabled Robinho to snatch a point at Ewood Park.

But for the ability and tenacity of Sturridge, a seventy-first minute replacement for the hopelessly ineffective Felipe Caicedo, City manager Mark Hughes would have gone into the window wondering if he would survive long enough to spend Sheikh Mansour's money having guided his team to eleven defeats in twenty league games this season.

Yet the 19-year-old forward gave City hope with an 87th minute volley before his composure and eye for a pass teed up Robinho to equalise three-and-a-half minutes into stoppage time.

Robinho cost City's owners a British record £32.5 million. Sturridge, a product of the club's thriving Academy, cost nothing, but his contribution was far more telling than that of the Brazilian forward, who had done his usual away-day disappearing act before resurfacing to break Blackburn hearts.

Hughes will be expected to recruit more box office signings by City's owners, but he admits that he is determined to ensure that Sturridge, currently in contract negotiations, is allowed to build a career at Eastlands.

Hughes said: "I was delighted with Daniel. I had hoped he would make a positive impact and we asked him to make things happen. He certainly did that.

"We want to bring good players in, but we can create the sort of environment where he can thrive. We have tried to introduce him bit-by-bit, but we want to keep him at this club."

Although City ultimately deserved their point having dominated possession, defeat appeared inevitable after Blackburn punished the visitors for early missed chances when Benni McCarthy opened the scoring with a crisp finish from ten yards on the stroke of half-time.

The goal left City having to chase the game and Blackburn, with McCarthy and Jason Roberts offering excellent presence up-front, were able to consistently threaten Hughes's team on the break.

Referee Howard Webb's refusal to award a penalty following Brett Emerton's clumsy sixtieth minute foul on Elano, similar to his failure to point to the spot after Andre Ooijer's first-half challenge on Robinho, conspired against City and Roberts seemingly won the game for Blackburn with a far post header on 83 minutes.

But Sturridge's volley, courtesy of Ooijer's miscued header, reduced the arrears and the Birmingham-born forward ensured a point when he slipped Robinho through with a sublime pass deep into stoppage time.

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce said: "I feel like I have had all of my Christmas presents taken from the bottom of the tree on Christmas morning. We had nine men behind the ball, but not a soul near Robinho when he scored.

"Over the course of two games, we have thrown away four points and that's massive for us."

Source: Telegraph