LONDON: Manchester City saw a further fixture complication added to their season when Scott Dann’s goal secured a 1-1 draw for Blackburn in their FA Cup third-round clash at Ewood Park.
City had looked to have broken the Championship side’s resistance after Alvaro Negredo put them ahead just before half-time. But Dann replied early in the second half after a mistake by keeper Costel Pantilimon and City were left hanging on after Dedryck Boyata was sent off.
A replay was not on the new year wish-list off for City boss Manuel Pellegrini. City’s crowded fixture list includes both legs of the League Cup semi-final with West Ham.
The replay date of January 13 means City have had to cancel their proposed warm- weather break in the United Arab Emirates that week.
Magpies shot down
At least City survived against lower-division opposition which is more than fellow Premier Leaguers Newcastle could boast.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrated the most encouraging possible start to his career in English football management as Cardiff City secured their first win at Newcastle in 51 years.
Goals from Craig Noone and Fraizer Campbell accomplished a winning comeback from a goal down in the third round tie at St James’ Park.
Solskjaer was appointed as manager of the promoted Welsh club by unpreditable owner Vincent Tan at the start of last week. The former Molde boss had made his name as a substitute striker at Manchester United and it was in introducing Noone and Campbell in the second half that he turned the game around.
Cardiff thus reached the fourth round for the first time in four seasons.
Papiss Cisse put Newcastle ahead on the hour after Hatem Ben Arfa had twice hit the posts. But Solkjaer’s changes turned the game on its head.
Campbell hit a post before Noone shot home from long range a minute after coming on. Campbell, a former club-mate of Solskjaer at Manchester United, ended the Bluebirds’ four-game run without a win with a header 10 minutes from time.
Solskjaer knows all about FA Cup success. He was a winner with Manchester United in 1999 and 2004.
He said: “It is not about me but it’s a perfect start for the new times because the lads had a lot to deal with. Turning around a game like that is fantastic.”
Solskjaer knows that better than anyone.
Now he must address Cardiff’s perilous Premier League status. They are one point above the relegation zone, host West Ham next weekend then go away to both Manchester clubs either side of their fourth round FA Cup-tie.
Aston Villa managerPaul Lambert had complained that the FA Cup is a “distraction [from the league] most clubs do not want.” He does not have that worry any more. Premier League Villa lost 2-1 at home to third division Sheffield United.