City take a step in the right direction

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The Independent Online
Manchester City 4 Wycombe Wanderers 0 (Manchester City win 4-0 on agg)

When keeping up with the neighbours is a near-impossible task, imagine the delight when you surpass them. Maine Road, for the first time in a long while, has got one up on Old Trafford and City, and not United, will be in this morning's Coca-Cola Cup third-round draw.

Where United were undone by Second Division opposition, City were able to overcome it. It was not an entirely comfortable ride for the Premiership's bottom club - Wycombe hit the post before they scored - but it was a win and when they are as rare as blue rosettes at the Labour party conference, a triumph of any description is welcome.

On this occasion City's first of the season was secured by goals from Uwe Rosler (two), Niall Quinn and Keith Curle. The relief ringing round a half-empty Maine Road - the crowd was just 11,474 - was enormous. A run of seven successive League defeats is not the ideal preparation for a potentially nervy tie, but once City had ridden their luck when Miguel De Souza hit the post they disposed of Wycombe comfortably.

The key to the evening was their 32nd-minute opener, a scruffy affair in which Wycombe's Paul Hardyman knocked the ball against his own goalkeeper from Steve Lomas's cross before Rosler tapped in the rebound. That soothed the nerves and allowed City to play in a relaxed manner that has been missing in the League.

Never more so than their second goal, beautifully created by Georgi Kinkladze, which arrived two minutes later. The Georgian has not set the Premiership alight, yet his ability has been apparent even as he has acclimatised. This time the promise became something more substantial as he hit a lovely pass between the Wycombe centre-backs for Rosler to score.

After 60 minutes Quinn met Rosler's cross at the far post to put the home side 3-0 up and when Brown brought down Kinkladze in the penalty area three minutes later, Curle converted the penalty a potentially difficult second leg had become a rout.

Manchester City (4-4-2): Immel; I Brightwell, Curle, Symons, Edghill (Margetson, 84); Lomas, Kinkladze (Summerbee, 79), Flitcroft (M Brown, 73), Beagrie; Rosler, Quinn.

Wycombe Wanderers (4-4-2): Hyde; Rowbotham, Cousins, Howard, Hardyman; Patterson, Carroll, S Brown (McGavin, 73), Farrell; Williams, De Souza. Substitutes not used: Soloman, Moussaddik (gk).

Referee: K Burge (Tonypandy).