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Salzburg 0 Man City 2

17 Sep 2010 07:37:15

| Submit Comments| Comments (159)| Printable Version1/1Play SlideshowClose MapJo celebrates after scoring against Salzburg THE hills were alive with the sound of ?Blue Moon? as City got their Europa League campaign underway in style last night. After two bad results, the Blues were back on song in Sound of Music territory, despite making six changes from the team held by Blackburn on Saturday. And it was David Silva who made the critics shut their von Trapps with his first goal for the club to cap a fine performance as playmaker, just as manager Roberto Mancini and midfielder Nigel de Jong had predicted. Silva had gone into the game under intense scrutiny, especially as Mancini had declared he was now ready to start justifying the £24million price tag. So his early intervention, scoring on eight minutes, was just what was needed to pep up the team and his own confidence. And that set the Blues on the way to a happy return to Austria, with Jo completing his personal fairytale of a comeback with the second goal. The last time City were in Austria was nearly 40 years ago, when Neil Young and Francis Lee scored to guide them to a European Cup Winners? Cup final victory in Vienna. That victory over Polish outfit Gornik Zabrze was perhaps the pinnacle of City?s history, so this was a fitting place in which to begin this season?s Europa League campaign proper. Manager Roberto Mancini knows this season is all about striking a balance in his team selection. In some ways, for all the exotic excitement of this Alpine adventure, the trip to Wigan on Sunday holds more importance. Favourites With that in mind, James Milner and Adam Johnson were held in reserve on the bench, with Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong returning to give a healthier aspect to midfield. Pablo Zabaleta was drafted in at right back, as he was to good effect in the play-off match in Timisoara, while Wayne Bridge returned from injury to make his first appearance of the season on the left side of defence. With David Silva playing in the hole behind Carlos Tevez and Jo, there were plenty of players out there with points to prove. The Blues are favourites to win the trophy, but this group opener looked like being a stiff test of those credentials. Salzburg are the reigning Austrian champions and won all six group games last season, including home and away triumphs over Lazio and Villarreal. And there could be no under-estimation of Austrian football, with Aston Villa already being KO?d from this competition by Rapid Vienna, who won 3-2 at Villa Park after a stalemate over here. You can usually expect a tremendous atmosphere in these jaunts to central European countries, as the privileged Blues who were in Timisoara last month will testify. But Salzburg, as befits a club which was stripped of its history, colours and badge when taken over by Red Bull five years ago, had an artificial feel. The lyrics of the club song were scrolled on a big screen, fans were issued with clappers in order to make a noise, and the banners behind the goal had a plastic, commercial look about them. Twanged That all changed once the Salzburg fans got behind their team, and City were aware that they could not afford to give either the home fans or the players any encouragement. So it was the perfect start when Zabaleta?s cross was headed out only as far as Bridge, lurking on the left. His cross saw Jo challenging with defender Ibrahim Sekagya, and the ball broke perfectly for Silva to slide home right-footed. Salzburg?s main threat in the first half came from set-pieces, more Stoke than silk. But with Kolo Toure and Vincent Kompany in determined mood, that was not going to be enough. The only real wobble in those crucial opening 45 minutes came when a corner was allowed to reach Sekagya. He mishit his shot down into the ground, and it bounced over the flailing Joe Hart and twanged off the crossbar. At the other end, City always looked like adding to their tally. One swift attack saw Tevez breaking down the right. He laid it on for Silva who this time eschewed the right foot shot, checked back on to his left and brought a fine save from keeper Gerhard Tremmel. Another goal was needed, and that fact was underlined early in the second half when Argentine schemer Gonzalo Zarate flashed a shot inches wide of the City post after a free kick was touched to him 20 yards out. Jo lacked the touch when played in by Yaya Toure, but he made no mistake on 63 minutes after Tevez had opened up the defence. The little Argentine fashioned his own shooting chance and when Tremmel could only push it away, the lanky Brazilian knocked it back into the net for his first City goal in nearly two years. All that was left was for City to keep a morale-boosting clean sheet and see the match through to the end, which they did with professional ease, with Barry and de Jong combative in the centre of the park. The scene is now set for a September 30 showdown with Juventus at Eastlands, which could go a long way to deciding the winner of the group.


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