Game #4783

Season | 2002-03 |

Matchday | #28 | 

League Game | #20 |
Premier League Match-week | #20 |  

Manager Game | #41 |

Thursday, 26 December 2002
Premier League | Away | Manchester City | Maine Road | 33,991 | 

Game Summary

Manager | Graham Taylor | 

KO | 15.00 |
Referee | Mark Halsey | 
HT Score | 1-1 |

FT Score | 1-3 |
FT Result | Lost |

Last 5 Games | LWLLL | 

Scorers | Dion Dublin | 41’ |
Assists | Jlloyd Samuel | 41’ |

League Position | 16th | -1 |

Line Up |

GK Peter Enckelman |
RB Ulises de la Cruz |
BOOKED | 18' |
LB Steve Staunton |
CB Olof Mellberg |
FB Jlloyd Samuel | 
ASSIST | 41' |
M Mustapha Hadji |
M Gareth Barry |
M Mark Kinsella |
M Thomas Hitzlsperger | 
SUB OFF | 68' |
CF Dion Dublin | GOAL | 41' |
F Darius Vassell | SUB OFF | 63' |

Substitutes |

M Lee Hendrie for M Öyvind Leonhardsen | 89’ |
M Öyvind Leonhardsen 
SUB OFF | 89' | for M Thomas Hitzlsperger | 68’ | 
M Öyvind Leonhardsen for M Thomas Hitzlsperger | 68’ | 

Unused Substitutes |

GK Stefan Postma 
F Marcus Allbäck

Cards | 

 Yellow | Ulises de la Cruz | 18’ |

Team Stats |

Starting XI Average Age | 26.88 | 

Oldest Player | LB Steve Staunton | 33.96 |

Youngest Player | M Thomas Hitzlsperger | 20.74 |

Match Report

The Guardian

Friday, 27 December, 2002

Match report by Ian Whittell

Benarbia saves City from themselves

Ali Benarbia, the Algerian midfielder who found his way to Manchester City via France and a ludicrous slice of good fortune, transformed the outcome of a match his side were doing their utmost to lose and maintained his cult status at Maine Road.

City, beaten at home 3-2 by Tottenham on Monday, looked likely to repeat history after squandering an early lead but, with the game finely poised, Benarbia’s arrival as a 64th-minute substitute for Shaun Wright-Phillips was decisive. 

Five minutes later he hit the bar. In the 78th minute he was on the end of Nicolas Anelka’s exquisite right-wing cross, stooping to convert a diving header from six yards. Two minutes after that it was his intricate through-ball which allowed Marc-Vivien Foé to advance, round Peter Enckelman and slide in his second goal of the day. 

“He will definitely start at Fulham on Saturday,” Kevin Keegan said. “I’m not telling you the rest of the team but after that he’s got to play. 

“He can play in the Premiership but I think he had to prove it to himself. He had a very long lay-off this summer and when he came back he never got back to the same level of influence in training and games.” 


Benarbia, player of the year in City’s promotion campaign last season, arrived at Maine Road 15 months ago because a possible deal with Sunderland fell through. Having stopped at Maine Road to have lunch with Keegan en route to the north-east, he accepted the manager’s offer to sign for City. 

However, the 34-year-old has suffered from his own and the team’s inconsistency since returning to the Premiership and has been on the bench for the past 10 league games. Now there is little doubt that a pedigree that twice saw him win the French player-of-the-year award is one Keegan needs to tap into if City are to establish mid-table respectability. 

Certainly, after Foé scored with a well-directed left-foot shot after 16 minutes, set up by a neat passing move between Anelka and Shaun Goater, City could have gone on to lose in a lacklustre 40 minutes. Villa, however, could not add to Dion Dublin’s 42nd-minute strike from eight yards after Jlloyd Samuel pulled back the ball from the left-hand byline.