x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Ireland double earns City a point

Geovanni edged the battle of the Brazilians as he salvaged Hull an entertaining draw against his former club Manchester City.

The Manchester City midfielder, Stephen Ireland, in blue, scored two goals in his teams 2-2 draw with Hull City.
The Manchester City midfielder, Stephen Ireland, in blue, scored two goals in his teams 2-2 draw with Hull City.

Geovanni edged the battle of the Brazilians as he salvaged Hull an entertaining draw against his former club Manchester City at the KC Stadium. Robinho, bought in the summer for £32.5million after his compatriot's release on a free transfer, was lively but overshadowed by teammate Stephen Ireland who grabbed both the visitors' goals. Two horrendous defensive gaffes, from Tal Ben-Haim and Kamil Zayatte, made it 1-1 before a sublime second from Ireland and Geovanni's deflected free-kick cancelled each other out. Ben-Haim was in the starting line-up because of the captain Richard Dunne's suspension ? a fact which also saw the British record signing Robinho handed the armband. The Hull boss Phil Brown selected Sam Ricketts for the injured Andy Dawson and kept faith with striker Marlon King, despite his midweek bust-up with teammate Dean Windass. A George Boateng foul after just two minutes gave Robinho a chance to try his luck from range, but his free-kick squirmed tamely wide. The Hull goalkeeper Boaz Myhill was also in action early on, showing good awareness when leaving his area to clear a dangerous through ball. After 10 minutes, Hull created a fine chance which was spurned by the captain Ian Ashbee. Sam Ricketts whipped in a cross from the left, allowing Dean Marney to cushion a first-time pass to Ashbee, who scuffed his effort low and wide. Hull were ahead four minutes later, Ben-Haim to blame for a defensive howler. Micah Richards rolled the ball to his defensive partner and, with only Daniel Cousin close by, the Israeli inexplicably played the striker in six yards from goal. Cousin slotted home with ease, while the goalkeeper Joe Hart was left injured on the turf. He limped off minutes later, all but ensuring his withdrawal from the England squad, with Kasper Schmeichel his replacement. Geovanni was quiet in the opening exchanges He did try some crowd-pleasing footwork on the left wing after 23 minutes but was bundled, strongly but fairly, into touch by Pablo Zabaleta. Paul McShane then earned the second booking of the game, following the clumsy Ben-Haim into the book, for a late slide on Javier Garrido. After 37 minutes, Zayatte produced the second horrific defensive error of the match. Robinho's through ball missed every blue shirt and was collected with ease by Zayatte who played the ball back across his own goal and into the path of Ireland, who tapped into an open net. The midfielder had his second before the half was out, taking Garrido's square ball on his instep before curling his shot expertly beyond Myhill. It took just two minutes of the second period for Geovanni to get the home supporters on their feet, firing over with a thrilling bicycle kick after latching on to King's drifted cross. The match started to settle into something of a pattern, with Hull lofting the ball high towards their opponents' box with City content in sweeping the aimless deliveries back into Tigers territory. Geovanni, typically, was the man to change things. With an hour gone, he lined up a free-kick 25 yards from goal and directly in front of the posts. His shot took a heavy deflection off Vincent Kompany in the wall, leaving Schmeichel floundering and earning him his sixth Premier League goal of the season. Revitalised, the East Yorkshire outfit almost took the lead a minute later, Cousin forcing a smart save out of the substitute keeper. Robinho almost created a third for City with a wicked ball across goal but, after a brief scramble, Darius Vassell's shot was blocked by Ashbee. Both sides looked to the bench to squeeze a winner, with Jo replacing Benjani for Mark Hughes' side and the veteran Nick Barmby on for Cousin. Ben-Haim carried the ball 30 yards with an unlikely, jinking run into the final third and looked ready to pull the trigger when he was dispossessed by Michael Turner. Hull had three successive free-kicks from 20 yards in the closing stages but none managed to clear the wall. As full-time approached, Vassell broke clear and hooked a shot goalwards only to see Myhill beat the ball away at his near post. *PA Sport