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Adam Dent[18 MAR 00] COVENTRY CITY MATCH REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Coventry City (2) 4
Bradford City (0) 0
BY ADAM DENT

John Eustace and Ysrael Zuniga scored their first Premiership goals as Coventry City wiped out any thoughts of being dragged into the relegation dog-fight.

After four straight defeats Gordon Strachan’s Sky Blues were in danger of being sucked down, but they answered all their critics with two victories in the space of three days virtually to make safe their Premier League status for next season.

It was a pyrrhic victory to some extent because their already extensive casualty list has been lengthened by injuries to Gary McAllister and Cedric Roussel. McAllister did not reappear at the start of the second half while Roussel limped off near the end.

It was later reported that both players had ‘dead legs’ and they will be under intensive treatment to try to be fit for next Sunday’s televised match against Arsenal at Highbury.

Robbie Keane is also under treatment for a knee ligament injury while David Burrows, who played on Wednesday night against Everton, played no part in this match and was reported to have a knee problem.

The young Irish midfielder Barry Quinn took over in the absence, also through injury, of Steve Froggatt, and he did well and showed a keen eye for the probing through pass.

Coventry began this match at a great rate of knots and to all intents and purposes the points were in the bag after just 20 minutes.

Eustace, who had his best game for the club and was a worthy man of the match, knifed a pass through the heart of Bradford’s abysmal defence to leave the transfer-listed Noel Whelan with a clear sight of goal in the 7th minute.

He pulled the trigger from a range of fifteen yards and Bradford’s new goalkeeper Aidan Davison could not gather the ball cleanly. It bounced away from him and quick as a flash Cedric Roussel, who hit the post twice in Wednesday’s victory over Everton, whipped it into the net.

Then after 21 minutes Bradford paid the penalty for more appalling defending. Their right back Gunnar Halle was trying to hold off Moustapha Hadji while he shepherded the ball over the line for a goalkick.

But the Moroccan ran round him and hooked the ball back infield where it ran to Whelan.

He took two steps and cracked a right footer low into the near post corner, and again questions had to be asked of Bradford’s goalkeeper who appeared to leave it late to try to keep it out.

Bradford had only one chance in the first half, a free kick from Dean Windass that crept wide of the target.

Coventry appeared to lose their direction in the second half when their inspiration and midfield playmaker McAllister failed to appear. He was replaced by the artisan Paul Telfer, playing his first match since injuring his ankle against Manchester United six weeks ago.

The midfield balance was skewed and while Coventry were sorting themselves out Bradford began to play with more urgency, but without causing Magnus Hedman any real problems in goal.

His only anxious moment came in the 58th minute when Dean Saunders drilled a free-kick through the wall of defenders, but Hedman dived to his right to clutch the ball on the goalline.

Coventry continued to create chances and Hadji and Eustace both planted headers wide of the target from good positions. Roussel then limped off near the end to be replaced by Zuniga and immediately the change caused Bradford problems.

John Eustace, Coventry City FCThe little Peruvian was chopped off at the knees by Lee Sharpe as he darted into the penalty area in the 84th minute and referee Steve Lodge immediately pointed to the spot. The usual penalty taker McAllister was an interested spectator in the dug out as the Coventry players discussed who should take the kick, but Eustace settled it by grabbing the ball, sticking it on the spot and coolly placing it wide of the keeper net for the first Premiership goal of his career.

Then two minutes later Zuniga did likewise when his left foot shot was blocked by a defender and he promptly smacked the rebound into the net with his right foot.

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COVENTRY (4-4-2):
Hedman, Gustafsson, Hendry, Shaw, Quinn, Chippo, McAllister (Telfer, 45 mins), Eustace, Hadji; Roussel (Zuniga, 77 mins), Whelan
Subs: Ogrizovic (gk), Breen, Normann

BRADFORD CITY (4-4-2):
Davison; Halle (Blake, 45 mins), O’Brien, Weatherall, Jacobs (Sharpe, 75 mins); Lawrence, Whalley (Cadete, 29 mins), McCalle, Beagrie; Saunders, Windass
Subs: Dreyer, Taylor

GOALS: Roussel (6 mins), Whelan (21 mins), Eustrace (84 mins - pen), Zuniga (86 mins)

REFEREE: Steve Lodge ( Barnsley)

BOOKINGS:
Coventry - Quinn (33 mins, foul), Shaw (56 mins, foul)
Bradford – Windass (64 mins)

ATTENDANCE: 19,201
    

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 18 Mar 00

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