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Bojinov makes his case as City subdue Milan

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 9 Aug 2008

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Manchester City striker Valeri Bojinov continued his promising comeback from long-term injury with the only goal in Saturday’s 1-0 friendly win over AC Milan at Eastlands.

City manager Mark Hughes must navigate the start of the English Premier League season, which begins for his team at Aston Villa on August 17, without his most significant close-season signing, Brazilian Jo, who is on international duty at the Olympic Games.

So Hughes will be relieved to see Bojinov, sidelined for just under one year with a knee ligament injury sustained in the Manchester derby, score in clinical fashion after 38 minutes to press his claim for a return to the first team.

Michael Ball’s long throw-in from near the left-hand corner flag was only half cleared by former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini and his misguided header fell for the Bulgarian forward who scored with an unstoppable left-foot shot from a dozen yards.

It followed a goal from the 22-year-old, on his pre-season comeback at Stockport County a week ago, and, although Hughes took the precaution of substituting him at half-time, Bojinov will clearly be in contention for City’s UEFA Cup tie against Denmark’s FC Midtjylland on Thursday.

Bojinov had almost opened the scoring after 25 minutes after poor defending and uncertain goalkeeping from Nelson Dida but, on this occasion, Flamini was able to clear the City forward’s effort off the goalline.

Milan, far earlier in their pre-season preparations than the English team and with key personnel missing through injury or Olympic Games duty, had made a bright start to the game and City goalkeeper Joe Hart was forced to make two early excellent stops.

In the fifth minute, he dived smartly to parry Alberto Paloschi’s near post shot before the same Milan forward was played clear by Andrea Pirlo only for Hart to make another impressive reaction save.

Milan veteran Clarence Seedorf stabbed a near post shot wide from Gennaro Gattuso’s pass but City were beginning to take control.

Just before his goal, Bojinov should have done better with an inaccurate header from Ball’s teasing cross and, shortly after finding the net, Bojinov turned provider with a neat pass for team mate Michael Johnson who shot well wide from the edge of the Milan penalty area.

Chances were far more sporadic after the interval, City substitutes Daniel Sturridge and Dietmar Hamann wasted two of the few created with errant long-range shots while Ched Evans almost connected with a dangerous cross from Kelvin Etuhu.

Nevertheless, the performance was a boost for City manager Hughes who has been repeatedly frustrated in the transfer market this summer and seems poised to offload two first team squad members this week.

Croatian full-back Vedran Corluka was not included in the City squad as his proposed transfer to Tottenham reportedly gathers momentum.

However, there was also a minor scare for City as their highly-valued England defender Micah Richards was injured in an innocuous looking challenge and was brought off, as a precautionary measure, after 69 minutes.

Meanwhile, Milan’s pre-season woes continued against English opposition, at the end of a week in which they were comprehensively beaten 5-0 by Chelsea in Russia.

However, the absence of the injured Kaka and Brazilian pair Ronaldinho and Pato, currently in Beijing, were clearly contributory factors.

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