Five-star City slam Addicks
By Chris Stanton. Last Updated: December 4, 2005 5:50pm
A sterling performance from Andy Cole was the catalyst for Manchester City's outstanding 5-2 win over Charlton at The Valley.
Cole scored the first and last of City's quintet with intervening strikes from Trevor Sinclair, Joey Barton and Darius Vassell as Stuart Pearce celebrated arguably his finest day in charge of City.
There are no such laurels for Alan Curbishley, however, because, although Darren Bent and Jay Bothroyd threatened a fightback, there was no disguising another lacklustre home defeat - already their fifth of the Premiership campaign.
The portents were ominous for the home side from the get-go with City dominating the opening exchanges. First to chance his arm was Vassell who had a glorious opening, a chance which provided further evidence of the budding partnership between the ex-Villa man and Cole.
Cole released Vassell but a heavy first touch allowed Dean Kiely, on his Premiership return, to smother the striker's run. Richard Dunne had further opportunities as City made much the brighter start.
Only the pace of Bent served notice of The Addicks' latent threat but City's front six dominated the opening exchanges with Charlton's extra man in midfield bypassed by the slick approach play of Claudio Reyna and Barton.
If Vassell and Cole's early link-up was a reminder to the home side of the duo's potency the warning went unheeded and The Addicks were punished in the 25th minute.
Sylvain Distin's long header forward found Vassell who had ghosted in between Chris Perry and Hermann Hreidarsson, the latter's touch on this occasion was assured and the footwork to release his strike partner was even better.
Cole seized on the pass and dispatched a fine finish inside Kiely's left hand post with the outside of his right foot.
Charlton reverted to 4-4-2 to counter City's shape, switching the ineffective Jonatan Johansson to a more accustomed striking role alongside Bent. Alan Curbishley's change almost paid immediate dividends but Darren Ambrose blazed high over after the napping Dunne was unable to intercept Bent's chest down.
But five minutes later The Addicks did fashion an equaliser though it owed much to City hesitancy. Luke Young's punt forward was more in hope than expectation, but the errant Distin and Dunne confounded one another, the ever-alert Bent was alive to the opportunity and finished with aplomb.
Parity lasted for just 54 seconds, however, when the effervescent Cole released Sinclair down the inside right channel, his strike was low and true though Kiely will be disappointed at allowing a shot which was so close to his body to elude him.
Cole headed over before a one-two between Barton and Reyna ended in the former shooting wide as the second half began with City pressing for what could prove a decisive third.
Perry had to be alert to block Vassell's shot from six yards before Barton again shot wide while at the other end Distin was alive to the threat of Young's marauding run.
City were awarded a 68th minute penalty after Sinclair's cross caused consternation in the home defence. Sun Jihai's header was blocked and in the ensuing melee Hreidarsson grappled Vassell to the ground.
Referee Phil Dowd pointed to the spot and Barton converted the penalty at the second attempt after Kiely had initially foiled the City man's kick.
Ambrose could have halved the deficit but volleyed wide before a see-saw affair took another twist when Bothroyd claimed his first Premiership goal for The Addicks in the 73rd minute. Murphy touched a free kick to the former Blackburn striker and he lashed in a 20-yard shot although David James was culpable in allowing the shot to beat him at the near post.
James atoned for that error with a save to deny another substitute as Jerome Thomas sought to engineer a riposte but hopes of a comeback were finally dashed in the 79th minute when Cole, with an astute pass, released Vassell who raced clear and made no mistake by finishing low beyond Kiely.
James was called into further action by Bent but with that save so ended Charlton's last sinew of hope and Cole put the gloss on an outstanding City performance by seizing on a woefully short back header from Perry to Kiely to round the keeper and slot home.
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|Charlton Athletic||Team Statistics||Manchester City|
|1||1st Half Goals||2|
|4||Shots on Target||9|
|6||Shots off Target||8|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|