Football: New tactics spur City

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The Independent Online
Chelsea. . . . . . . .2

Manchester City. . . .4

THE days when Manchester City's tactics were to hump the ball forward in the vague direction of Niall Quinn's head are over.

Quinn has scored just three times this season and yesterday further evidence that City have abandoned their aerial strategy for a more earthbound approach was provided by the sweet manner in which they scored the four goals that gave them only their second victory in eight outings.

Two goals in as many minutes, midway through the first half, seemed to have killed off any Chelsea hopes of putting an end to their own disappointing run - they have won only once since the first week in December.

It was Quinn's head, however, in an intellectual, rather than physical, capacity that set up the first goal. From the free-kick conceded by David Lee, Quinn flicked the ball to David Wright, who burst through Sinclair's challenge and guided his shot low beyond Kevin Hitchcock for his 12th goal of the season.

If City's first goal was clinical, their second was as fluent as any they will score all season. Mike Sheron ran the ball out of his own half, pushed it wide to White whose instant return allowed Sheron at the near post to finish.

For Chelsea it seemed to be all over bar the dressing-room rollicking when, 10 minutes into the second half, City extended their lead. It was Terry Phelan with his first League goal this season who was the surprise provider. Bursting into the left of the box, he appeared to be crossing the ball when his chip somehow found its way over Hitchcock and the line.

In the last 10 minutes Chelsea threatened to do the impossible. Graham Stuart pulled one back when he met Graeme Le Saux's cross on the full, and then John Spencer, who had come on for Steve Clarke, temporarily put an end to mutterings about consolation goals with a spectacular volley form 20 yards. However, Sheron's header moments later thwarted what would have been a great if undeserved escape.

Chelsea: K Hitchcock; S Clarke (J Spencer, 63 min), F Sinclair, A Townsend, D Lee, M Donaghy, G Stuart, R Fleck, M Harford, E Newton, G Le Saux. Subs not used: C Burley, N Colgan (gk). Manager: I Porterfield.

Manchester City: T Coton; R Ranson, T Phelan, S McMahon, K Curle, D Brightwell, D White, M Sheron, N Quinn, G Flitcroft, R Holden. Subs not used: P Reid, A Mike, M Margetson (gk). Player-Manager: P Reid.

Referee: V Callow (Solihull).

Goals: D White (27 min, 0-1); M Sheron (29 min, 0-2); T Phelan (55 min, 0-3); G Stuart (78 min, 1- 3); J Spencer (85 min, 2-3); M Sheron (88 min, 2-4).

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