City beat European Champions on their own patch as United lose to Burnley

Football can be extremely enjoyable now and again. Sometimes, we even win away. Occasionally, them lot throw up a mediocre showing against a team of cloggers. Tonight we played the current European Cup holders and the best footballing side to have played club football in the last thirty years, possibly ever, on their own ground, infront of the best part of 100,000 people. Fergie took his invincibles a few miles down the road to a side few thought were fit to even share a pitch with them.

Our fans are generally an honest lot. We've been awful for years, sometimes still are, it might take us five years to challenge, if we do at all, so a trip to the greatest club in the world for a friendly was probably too good to turn down. There were questions over it, not least from myself, but for some of the players involved tonight to play at the Nou Camp, against the world's biggest and best club, infront of such a crowd, priceless.

With Saturday's home fixture against Wolves in mind, Mark Hughes didn't field a full-strength side, going with a mix of those who didn't start at Blackburn, with a strong spine of those who did. Shay Given continued in goal, Nedum Onuoha came in at right-back, Zab on the left strangely, Toure and Dunne remained in the centre of defence, with SWP, Stevie Ireland and Gareth Barry squeezing into a midfield trio, with Weiss, Tevez and Petrov forming a front three.

Barca dominated the game, it can't be denied, but we defended brilliantly. They peppered us first half, Jeffren gave Zab a horrible time on their right and they were superb in possession. Even with a side missing several key players they looked excellent with the ball, and we were under pressure right from the off, creating three or four chances before we had our first venture forward after ten minutes, a tidy move involving SWP, Zabaleta and the energetic Tevez.

Shortly before the half-hour, and very much against the run of play, we scored a world-class goal. Tevez feeding Ireland around the centre spot, who layed a weighted pass behind the Barca defence and into the path of Martin Petrov. Onto it like a greyhound he took a couple of touches before lashing past the stranded 'keeper. 0-1, in the Nou Camp, friendly or not, bollocks to it. Choruses of "We're Not Really Here" and "Blue Moon" blaring out, great stuff!

After the goal Barca continued to run the game, the aforementioned Jeffran looking superb, ditto Pedro. Captain Puyol was replaced before the break, and we only really offered occasional glimpses. Vlad Weiss tried his heart out on the right, and Ireland was imperious in midfield, but we were very much under the kosh. Tevez found his way through the Barca backline only to just be beat to a ball by Pinto, Weiss had a couple of great runs and Barry put a header just wide on the stroke of half-time.

The second-half was one-way traffic, but we were immense at the back. Ibrahimovic, Messi and Alves came on, but Dunne, Onuoha and the introduced Ben Haim were immovable. They tried their passing game, it didn't work, they went more direct, we stood firm, it was just a terrific defensive showing. They hit the bar, had efforts cleared, out-passed, out-harried and outclassed us, but they couldn't break down our second-choice back four. We camped back in our own half and played like our lives depended on it, like Chelsea and United have done there in previous seasons and been praised for.

As the game wore on, Hughes gave chances to several more reserves. Kelvin Etuhu and Kieran Trippier came on as Barca upped and upped their game to little success. We rarely attacked, Martin Petrov looking our only real outlet barring a direct free-kick we blazed over. Keita and Pique came on, and others who mullered them lot in Rome, but they were in our pockets.

We can't fool ourselves, this was only a friendly, but it was as much our second side as theirs. Only three or four we played would be in our first team, ditto for Barca. We coped brilliantly well. Dunne was a rock, as at Blackburn. Ned coped admirably at right-back. Ben Haim didn't look out of place. Ireland didn't stop. Tevez showed promising signs. Petrov looked more hungry than in pre-season, and most impressively, Weiss gave the first real signs that he's ready for a role in the senior squad. Brilliant!

Elsewhere, 33-year-old Leeds reject Robbie Blake condemned ManYoo to defeat at Burnley. Great stuff.

Given, Onuoha, Zabaleta (Garrido 64), Toure (Ben Haim 45), Dunne, Barry (Etuhu 66), Ireland, SWP (Trippier 81), Weiss, Tevez (Bellamy 64), Petrov


  1. class mate, utter class.

    how many did owen score for the rags tonight btw?

  2. Same amount he scored on sunday ;)