CITY 5 BARNSLEY 1
Nationwide Division One
6th April 2002
Scorers Huckerby(12, 36 & 63), Macken(53 & 70)
City Nash, Pearce, Howey, Dunne, Wright-Phillips, Benarbia, Tiatto, Jensen, Horlock, Huckerby Macken – subs Killen(unused), Mettomo(67), Sun(76), Royce(unused), Wiekens(65)
Barnsley Marriott, Mulligan, Morgan, Flynn, Chettle, Lumsdon, Jones, Neil, Gibbs, Betsy, Dyer – subs Gorre(59), Sheron(59), Naylor(74), Barker(unused), Miller(unused)
WHAT THE PRESS SAID
Darren Huckerby grabbed a hat-trick as Manchester City secured the First Division title with two games to spare.
With promotion assured on Friday night with Wolves losing, the Maine Road supporters were looking for their side to go the extra mile.
They were not disappointed with a blistering five-goal show and the kind of performance that has become their trademark under manager Kevin Keegan.
The crowd were in full voice, paying tribute to the former England boss who arrived in the summer after relegation from the top flight.
Chants of “There’s only one Kevin Keegan” and “Walking in a Keegan wonderland” echoed around the stadium.
And Huckerby got Kevin Keegan’s side off to a perfect start, scoring after 11 minutes to heighten the party mood. Ali Benarbia chipped the ball between two players with a lovely bit of skill and Huckerby took a couple of strides before delivering a shot into the corner beyond Andy Marriott.
Barnsley, in danger of dropping into Division Two, looked nervous at the back in the opening stages.
Chris Morgan put Marriott under pressure with a poor back-pass. Benarbia latched onto it and tried to release Huckerby only to over-hit the cross.
There was a scare for City when Steve Howey lost possession to Bruce Dyer. He homed in goal only to hesitate at the last moment and the chance was lost.
Barnsley almost pulled level in the 19th minute when a thunderous 30-yard free-kick from Chris Lumsden rattled the crossbar with keeper Carlo Nash rooted to the spot.
City immediately hit back and Marriott did well to get a hand to Huckerby’s shot after Shaun Wright-Phillips had carved out the opening.
Then Kevin Betsy was inches away from equalising after a hanging cross from Gary Jones.
Huckerby delivered another clinical finish after a neat bit of skill in the 36th minute when he again linked up with Benarbia for City’s second goal.
Macken then sent a shot into the side-netting only for Barnsley to pull a goal back two minutes before the break thanks to a superb finish from Dyer.
Dyer’s strike slightly dampened the atmosphere around the ground but certainly the goal had looked like coming with City all over the place at the back in the first half.
Paul Gibbs should have pulled the visitors level in the 48th minute. Instead his effort from a good position only found the side-netting following a fine cross from Dyer.
City extended their lead in the 53rd minute and recorded their 100th league goal of the season in the process.
That honour fell to £5million striker Jon Macken, who took advantage of a surging run from Niclas Jensen to tap the ball home.
Barnsley just could not contain Huckerby and Benarbia, who was pulling the strings in midfield.
The pair linked up in the 62nd minute for City to make it 4-1 against demoralised opponents.
Huckerby finished off a delightful one-two with the Algerian, his shot going in off the post for his hat-trick.
City stepped up the pace and Macken got his second goal of the game in the 69th minute with a simple finish after good work by Wright-Phillips to leave Barnsley stunned.
The crowd were urging the team to go for a sixth – but the five goal margin was more than enough to secure victory.
Huckerby paraded a banner at the end with the word “Champions”, leaving Wolves and West Brom to fight it our for second place.
Keegan led his team in a lap of honour after the match and the roar that greeted them almost raised the roof.
The fans were in good humour and heeded the notice asking them not to invade the pitch. Only one supporter breached that advice and he was quickly apprehended by the stewards.
KEN GAUNT WRITING FOR THE SPORTING LIFE