SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 2 CITY 6
Nationwide League Division 1
22nd September 2001
City Benarbia(32), Goater(35 & 70), Granville(59), Wanchope(68 & 80 pen)
Sheffield Wednesday Bonvin(3), Bromby(47)
City Weaver, Weikens, Pearce, Howey, Edghill, Etuhu, Benarbia, Tiatto, Granville, Goater, Wanchope – subs Dunne(45), Horlock(79), Huckerby(72), Murphy(unused), Shuker(unused)
Sheffield Wednesday Pressman, Palmer, Maddix, Westwood, Bromby, Quinn, Soltvedt, McLaren, Morrison, Bonvin, di Piedi – sub Lescott(61), Hamshaw(85), Donnelly(85), Haslam(unused), Stringer(unused)
NEVER can the sublime and the ridiculous have rubbed shoulders more conspicuously than they did during this bizarre, eight-goal romp.
For 30 minutes, the Owls and the Blues were displaying the kind of mass brainpower more readily associated with a convention of village idiots.
The ball was given away with alarming regularity, runs were being continuously made up blind alleys and composure was seemingly a word none of the 22 players were familiar with.
During the general mayhem and disorganisation, the Owls had taken a second-minute lead courtesy of South American youngster Pablo Bonvin.
Even then he hardly knew much about his effort as Owen Morrison’s cross bounced off him and past a startled Nick Weaver.
Then came the transformation. Manchester City cast off their ugly duckling coat and turned into a beautiful swan serenely gliding through a home defence that was cut to ribbons by the sharpness of the galvanised Blues.
Algerian magician Ali Benarbia levelled just after the half-hour with a shot from the edge of the box that sneaked past an unsighted Kevin Pressman. From then on Keegan’s men were simply irresistible.
Every sweeping attack, constructed with care and elegance, promised a goal. Sheffield Wednesday who were admittedly no great shakes, were overwhelmed by a tidal wave of brilliance that will be very hard to match in the coming weeks.
Goal-machine Shaun Goater nosed City in front when his telescopic right leg flicked Stuart Pearce’S quickly-taken free kick over the stranded Kevin Pre~z~man in the home goal.
Only a bad knee injury to the brave Richard Edghill marred the end of the first half and it was as if the Blues were still sulking at his loss when Wednesday drew level in the first attack of the second period.
There seemed little danger when Morrison curled a cross from the right touchline, but the clearing header was weak and Leigh Bromby powered the ball into the top corner.
Equalising was just about the worst thing the Owls could have done as City puffed out their chests and, prompted by the brain and vision of Benarbia, ripped their hosts to shreds.
Danny Granville restored the lead in the 58th minute after Benarbia had flicked over a ball from the right.
City went further ahead when Benarbia’s deft chip into the box from the right was headed powerfully past Pressman by Paulo Wanchope.
The Blues were in no mood to rest on their laurels and proceeded to put on an exhibition of passing and finishing that would not have looked out of place in any top coaching video.
Benarbia’s one-two with the impressive Tiatto was enough to earn Goater a 70th-minute opening that he took with great aplomb.
Dunne’s long ball then sent fellow substitute Darren Huckerby scurrying into the penalty area where he was promptly felled by Danny Maddix.
Wanchope made no mistake from the penalty spot, firing the ball into the gap the diving Pressman had left behind.
From that point on it was exhibition stuff by the Blues.
When they play like they did in the last hour of the contest, City are head and shoulders the best team in the First Division.
FROM MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS BY CHRIS BAILEY AND PAUL HINCE
EXCERPT FROM FEED THE GOAT BY SHAUN GOATER AND DAVID CLAYTON