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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 December 2007, 21:40 GMT
Man City 2-2 Blackburn
By Jonathan Stevenson

Roque Santa Cruz
Paraguay frontman Santa Cruz has enjoyed a prolific December
Manchester City lost their 100% home record in the Premier League this season as in-form striker Roque Santa Cruz bagged a brace for Blackburn.

Santa Cruz headed in a late David Bentley cross to earn his side a point.

City went ahead when the inspirational Martin Petrov crossed for Darius Vassell to nod in, before Santa Cruz headed a Bentley free-kick to equalise.

Another Petrov cross was put into his own net by Ryan Nelsen, before Santa Cruz popped up to salvage a draw.

The Paraguayan has now scored a remarkable seven goals in his last four games and he denied City fourth place in the league in the process.


After a subdued opening, the game came to life with the first real chance after 21 minutes - and how City striker Rolando Bianchi will live to regret not putting his side in front.

Petrov played a gorgeous one-two with Stephen Ireland and hit the left byline, picking out Bianchi perfectly, only for the Italian to completely miss the ball in front of an open goal.

That extraordinary moment was the signal for the game to explode - and three goals in three sizzling minutes brought Eastlands to life.

Petrov beat the offside trap and raced down the left once more, this time expertly clipping the ball to the far post for Vassell to nod in.

Darius Vassell scores Manchester City's opener against Blackburn
Vassell (left) heads home Man City's opener against Blackburn

Only 61 seconds later Blackburn were level as Santa Cruz bagged his sixth goal in four games by heading home Bentley's wickedly inswinging free-kick from the left.

But two minutes later City restored their lead when Petrov caused yet more mayhem and rifled the ball across goal, only for Blackburn captain Nelsen to inadvertently put the ball into his own net.

With the main action out of the way, the game reverted back to the patchy affair it had been before the three goals in three minutes and 26 seconds.

Rovers brought on Benni McCarthy at half-time and he was close to being sent clean through, only for David Dunn to overhit his pass to the South African.

Blackburn were beginning to get on top and a cross from the right fell to Morten Gamst Pedersen, who hit a powerful effort that Nedum Onuoha did well to block.

City sent on Elano to try to finish off the match and the Brazilian nearly did so in majestic fashion, chesting the ball down and lashing in a cracking volley from 25 yards that flew inches wide.

But with eight minutes to go, Santa Cruz reacted quickly to get his head on the end of a Bentley cross from the right and earn his side a crucial point.

The assistant referee originally ruled the goal out for offside against Dunn, but he quickly reversed his decision and after a brief delay, the goal was allowed to stand.

  • Manchester City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson on Rovers' late leveller:
    "One Rovers player was offside, but the ball goes over him, he didn't reach it and the guy behind - Santa Cruz - scores.

    "I think it's a very grey area we are talking about, it needs clarification.

    "Blackburn played well but they are a good team so it's no surprise. For us, Martin Petrov was very, very good."

  • Blackburn manager Mark Hughes:
    "In the first half we didn't lay a glove on City, they played around us.

    "We needed a response in the second half and we took the game to them, we were the only team trying to win it.

    "We have been on a difficult run, but this is a positive result and we've now got two games we can get points from."

    Man City: Hart, Onuoha, Dunne, Richards, Ball, Corluka, Gelson, Ireland (Garrido 78), Petrov, Bianchi (Elano 64), Vassell.
    Subs Not Used: Isaksson, Geovanni, Hamann.

    Booked: Richards.

    Goals: Vassell 27, Nelsen 30 og.

    Blackburn: Friedel, Khizanishvili (McCarthy 46), Nelsen, Samba, Berner, Emerton, Reid, Dunn (Kerimoglu 90), Pedersen, Bentley, Santa Cruz (Roberts 90).
    Subs Not Used: Brown, Olsson.

    Booked: Berner.

    Goals: Santa Cruz 28, 84.

    Att: 42,112.

    Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Roque Santa Cruz 7.73 (on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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