Fofana 5mins, Hiwula 11mins, 59mins 63mins & 64mins, Lopes 52mins
- Match reports
- 24 March 2014 20:56
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc / pics by @vhaydn_mcfc
Jordy Hiwula was the four-goal hero as the Elite Development Squad returned to winning ways with a thrilling 6-0 win over Blackburn Rovers at Leigh Sports Village.
City were beaten for the first time in 12 games at under-21 level when they last took to the field in the league, losing in the last minute to Southampton at the Etihad Stadium a fortnight ago.
Daunting though it may have been to be back at the foot of the mountain they’d been scaling, City hoisted themselves vertical and took the first steps towards another potential invincible streak, putting in a performance laced with personality and perspiration.
After the break, a penalty from Marcos Lopes and three from Hiwula in six minutes settled the match and fired the Blues back up towards the table summit.
It was the perfect antidote to Southampton’s sucker punch and put the Blues well in contention for the four-team play-offs which will determine this season’s under-21 champions at the end of April.
Seven of the starting XI in this Barclays u21 Premier League encounter were involved in last week’s unfortunate UEFA Youth League quarter-final defeat to Benfica, so there were plenty of incentives for Vieira’s men to get back to winning ways away at bottom-of-the-table Blackburn.
The Frenchman shuffled his pack for this short trip across Greater Manchester, making three changes from the side that started against the Saints on 10 March.
Greg Leigh was serving the second game of his three-match suspension, so Angelino remained at left-back, in behind the captain Lopes who began out wide, swapping flanks with Devante Cole at regular intervals in support of Hiwula up front.
From the first whistle, it was evident that this EDS side had been itching to set the record straight after an onerous fortnight.
Blackburn were simply chasing shadows as Vieira’s side carved them open time and again in the early stages, showcasing the élan and verve they’ve demonstrated for long stretches of this campaign.
It’s rare that a goal after five minutes feels like it's been coming – but Fofana’s second goal in as many matches was one such occasion, and it was a strike that said everything about the perfect symmetry and symbiosis that exists in this team.
Fofana exchanged passes with Cole and Ntcham to work his way into a one-on-one situation and kept a cool head to tuck the ball under David Raya to hand City a fifth minute lead.
One became two just six minutes later with a more direct, but no less well crafted goal.
This time, the tireless Adam Drury cut a blue streak to overlap Lopes and delivered a made to measure cut-back for Hiwula to slam home his 13th goal of the season.
City looked like they could cut through their hosts at will and they nearly had a third goal to emphasise their dominance on 15 minutes when Fofana almost replicated his sublime strike against Benfica but this time keeper David Raya made an impressive flying save.
Further chances fell for Ntcham, Hiwula, Lopes and Cole but the killer finishing touch was missing from the Blues’ flowing, intricate moves.
The hosts came into the game for the final 15 minutes of the opening half but were unable to force City keeper Ian Lawlor into a meaningful save.
Vieira would have warned his side against thinking the job was done at half-time and encouraged them to come out and begin the second half as they did the first.
Happily, that’s just what they did, moving the ball around at lightning speed and hungrily pressing from the front to win it back in advanced areas.
This approach gave City the third goal which ended the match as a contest after Cole was flattened by Will Beesley, giving referee Paul Marsden no choice but to point to the penalty spot.
As he did against Southampton, Lopes sent the goalkeeper the wrong way and celebrated his 11th goal of the season.
City weren’t finished there and Jordy Hiwula certainly wasn’t satisfied with his solitary strike as the period between the 59th and 64th minute definitively showed.
The striker hit three expertly-taken goals in six second-half minutes to give the Blues a lead that in no way flattered them.
The first was a 20-yard volley into the top corner, the second for his hat-trick was a beautiful one-touch-and-thump in off the underside of the crossbar and the final one was all about his predatory composure to slide the ball past Raya to take his tally to 16 for the season.
Sunderland are next up at the Etihad Stadium on Friday night.
If City can replicate this devastating form, you won’t want to miss it.