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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 August, 2003, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Man City brush Charlton aside
City goalscorer Nicolas Anelka
Anelka scored the first and created two more for Man City
Charlton 0-3 Man City

Nicolas Anelka scored one and created two more as Manchester City cruised to a comfortable win over lacklustre Charlton.

The French striker converted a 13th-minute penalty after a foul on Shaun Wright-Phillips by Mark Fish and he turned provider 10 minutes later as his backheel set up Antoine Sibierski for a goal on his debut.

Charlton grafted hard but they were lacking a cutting edge up front and and their chances of a recovery were all but ended when Fish was sent off for bringing down Robbie Fowler midway through the second half.

Sun Jihai completed the scoring seven minutes before the end when Charlton keeper Simon Royce could only deflect Anelka's shot into his path.

Charlton's fans began the game in good heart, having welcomed new signing Paolo di Canio but the Italian was not deemed fit enough even for a place on the bench and the Londoners looked uninspired in attack.

KEY MOMENTS
13 mins: Man City take the lead through Anelka's penalty
23 mins: Sibierski doubles City's lead with a goal on his debut
70 mins: Fish is sent off for bringing down Fowler
83 mins: Sun Jihai fires home to make it 3-0

While they started much the brighter of the two sides, they were unable to carve out any clear chances - despite some nervous moments from veteran keeper David Seaman, making his Sky Blues debut.

And against the run of play City took the lead in the 13th minute.

Wright-Phillips burst into the box in a rare attack from the visitors and when Parker pulled the striker back, referee Mike Dean pointed to the penalty spot for Anelka to open the scoring.

Boosted by the goal, City began to dominate proceedings with Anelka's pace and trickery constantly troubling the Charlton defence.

And it was the Frenchman who set up his side's second goal, thundering down the left wing and cutting it back for compatriot Sibierski to double City's lead.

Anelka was again involved as Wright-Phillips should have made it 3-0, the 21-year-old pulling his shot wide from his strike partner's neat backheel.

Charlton new boy Paolo di Canio
Di Canio was welcomed by the fans - but played no part for Charlton
Charlton boss Alan Curbishley responded at half-time with two changes, bringing on Claus Jensen and Luke Young and switching to a 4-4-2 formation.

And in a repeat of the first-half, Charlton once again dominated possession but failed to break down the City defence.

However, Young did manage to force a save from Seaman, hurtling towards the goal before unleashing a shot which the former Arsenal keeper did well to turn away for a corner.

But Charlton's revival was derailed when Fish brought down Fowler, with the striker clean through on goal, and it was no surprise when City added to their goal tally.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Anelka's shot was well saved by Royce but Jihai lashed home to confirm victory for the away side and hand Charlton their third successive opening-day defeat in the Premiership.


Charlton: Royce, Kishishev (Jensen 46), Fish, Rowett, Hreidarsson, Konchesky, Euell, Holland, Parker, Lisbie (Johansson 78), Bartlett (Young 46). Subs Not Used: Leite, Fortune.

Sent Off: Fish (71).

Booked: Konchesky, Euell.

Man City: Seaman, Jihai, Sommeil, Distin, Tarnat, Wright-Phillips, Barton, Sibierski, Sinclair (Tiatto 90), Anelka, Fowler (Wanchope 77). Subs Not Used: Weaver, Berkovic, Dunne.

Booked: Sibierski.

Attendance: 25,780

Referee: M Dean (Wirral)




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