Elano sends City through
Second-half header from Brazilian puts City into fourth round.
Last Updated: 17/01/08 10:53am
Elano: City winner
Elano's second half header gave Manchester City a 1-0 win over West Ham in their largely forgettable FA Cup third round replay at Eastlands.
For an FA Cup replay, there was not a lot to shout about for either side as chances were at a premium in a low-key affair that saw both teams struggle to get into their stride.
The second half was better than the first, and the two key players, Martin Petrov and Elano, were involved in the first and only goal of the game.
Petrov's 73rd-minute cross was headed against the post by Rolando Bianchi, but Elano was first to the rebound and his brave diving header sent City into a fourth round tie against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
With Fabio Capello's trusted advisor Franco Baldini at the game alongside Stuart Pearce, the likes of Joe Hart Matthew Upson and Micah Richards had the chance to stake claims for England places.
City goalkeeper Hart probably emerged with the most credit in what was, in truth, a dour affair.
Hart is still capable of the odd mistake, as his failure to make any connection with his attempt to punch Freddie Ljungberg's free-kick clear late in the opening period showed, but he has already done enough to persuade Sven-Goran Eriksson to dump Sweden's World Cup keeper Andreas Isaksson and the Swede feels he could follow in the footsteps of David Seaman and Peter Shilton as a world-class England number one.
A talented cricketer in his youth, Hart stood as strong as an opening batsmen facing a fast-ball battery when Luis Boa Morte picked out Ashton with an astute cross from the right.
Although he was at full stretch, Ashton got plenty of power behind his volley but it just bounced off Hart, who made a similar, if slightly less difficult save from Boa Morte himself not long after the break.
If anything, Hart was even braver in stoppage-time as he confronted Ashton in a body-to-body duel when Richard Dunne looped an attempted clearance into his own box.
Yet again, it was the keeper who came out on top, both in winning the ball and the clash of bodies which inevitably followed.
The loss of loan signing Nery Castillo with a dislocated shoulder after barely half an hour hardly aided City's cause.
But, after a slow start to the second period, Eriksson's men began to get into their stride with Petrov leading the offensive.
The Bulgarian has been in top form recently and after substitute Bianchi bundled one low cross wide, Upson, another Englishman to impress, was at full stretch to prevent Petrov picking out the same man, who had found a much better position.
There was to be no reprieve for the Hammers when Petrov drove past Lucas Neill 17 minutes from time.
This time, Bianchi met the far-post cross with a firm header, which crashed back off a post, only for Elano to dive in and get his head on the ball between a mass of raised boots.
City needed to survive a couple of late scares as West Ham had a penalty claim against Dunne turned down before Richards nodded a dangerous Lee Bowyer cross out from underneath his own crossbar.But, in the end, they are the ones who can start planning for a Roses battle at Bramall Lane.
|Manchester City||Team Statistics||West Ham United|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|1||Shots on Target||2|
|4||Shots off Target||6|