HART STOPPING
October 04, 2012

Photo: MCFC.co.uk

Now that the little pun in the title is out of my system, perhaps I could proceed to thoroughly analyzing City’s tactics and performance at the Dortmund game. Then again maybe not. Suffice to say, Joe Hart aside, we were rubbish.

The game was played at 3am here. So watching the game half-asleep was a bit like a bad dream you couldn’t wake up from. Sure it wasn’t a tragic drubbing worthy of a scoreline printable on a t-shirt. But to see your team being outplayed so dominantly by the opponent, at home, warrants a feeling of unease on what the future holds.

The first half was just okay, at most. Too many a time our defenders looked nervy and evidently intimidated by the bright neon yellow men running around the pitch. Or could it be the visiting fans? Who couldn’t stop singing as they reverberated the stands. Whenever they made way, echoes of Blue Moon filled the air, albeit too briefly before the Germans led the way again. This is how it feels to be Wigan.

The second half wasn’t any better. In fact, Dortmund should’ve been one-up at the break and the City players could have used the fifteen minutes for some reflection over Lucozade. Gael Clichy and Yaya Toure looked tired and Vincent Kompany was barely the beast at the back he usually is. The side-passing and long balls into the Dortmund half -- only to be intercepted or deflected back -- was uninspiring to say the least. At the end of the game, we led the offside count 6 – 0. Silly little rule isn’t it?

There were sparks of brilliance from David Silva and Pablo Zabaleta in feeding in those nifty passes to Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko. While Aguero did have some promising shots, Dzeko had his invisible cloak on for the majority of the night. On the bench not sharing a tracksuit shelter from the Manchester drizzle, unlike before, Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez were on camera having what appeared to be a lengthy discussion about the happenings on the pitch. It was a situation that screamed for Tevez. Roberto Mancini being the mystery man that he is, brought Balotelli in. And it paid off.

At 0 – 1 after a Jack Rodwell mistake gave way for Marco Reus to slot one in pass the seemingly impenetrable Hart, a miracle happened in the form of Neven Subotic’s handball. A non-penalty to most, not including Czech referee Pavel Kralovec. The sight of Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller whispering into Balotelli’s ears before the kick will be a few frames worth in the tournament montage. So would the “yapping” hand gesture that followed after Balotelli slotted in yet another cool career penalty.

With a 1 – 1 scoreline at full-time, I can’t disagree that Dortmund was robbed. And when your goalkeeper is Man of the Match, you do have to worry about your defenders.

We are of course still very much in the competition. But over in Amsterdam, one Cristiano Ronaldo had just scored his second hat-trick of the week for Real Madrid to bag home all three points. Only two teams will go through the knockout stage. Madrid is inevitably through. And while Ajax has collected 0 out of the 6 points available so far, we’re not better off with 1. Plus the next game against Dortmund is an away fixture at the Westfalenstadion where the home fans pack the tiers like those CGI ships in that movie Troy.

But we’re in good hands. Joe Hart eats CGI ships for breakfast.



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Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

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  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
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