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It was a night of nostalgia, appreciation and the welcoming back of some of our all-time favourite players.

With more than 51,615 City fans paying homage to our most successful captain of all time, this was Vincent Kompany’s night, but so much more.

Tackle4MCR the real winners

First and foremost, this game was organised to raise funds for Vincent’s drive to help the homeless of Manchester – Tackle4MCR – and the huge crowd will ensure a substantial amount of money will go towards the initiative.

But this was a chance to say hello and goodbye to some players the City fans never quite had the opportunity of thanking for their role in almost a decade of domestic dominance.

The City legends, managed by Pep Guardiola, lined up with Joe Hart in goal and reunited the defence that formed the bedrock of the 2011/12 title-winning campaign with Kompany and Joleon Lescott partnering alongside Pablo Zabaleta and Micah Richards – plus Kolo Toure.

In midfield department, the Dutch Enforcer himself, Nigel de Jong, had David Silva, Samir Nasri, Shaun Wright-Phillips, James Milner and Dietmar Hamann.

Forwards were catered for with Martin Petrov, Craig Bellamy, Sergio Aguero, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Benjani – but the irrepressible Mario Balotelli was merely a spectator in the Colin Bell Stand.

Anderlecht’s Derrick Luckassen was a late addition to the squad list.

Red tinge to All-Stars

The Premier League All-Stars, managed by Roberto Martinez and Thierry Henry, had more than a sprinkling of red about it.

They lined up Edwin Van Der Sar, Shay Given, Gary Neville, Ashley Cole, Jamie Carragher, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Rafael Van Der Vaart, Mikel Arteta, Patrick Vieira, Robbie Keane, Robin Van Persie, Tim Cahill and Darius Vassell.

Vincent addressed and thanked the fans before the game and, accompanied by his children Kai, Sire and Sienna before revealing, “You might have noticed, I’m not playing – I just had to be injured for my own testimonial!”

After receiving a standing ovation and having a collective team picture, the game began, and the City fans started their repertoire of old songs for almost the entire squad.

Legends’ flying start

Martin Petrov scored after just 68 seconds after being played through by Samir Nasri, with the Bulgarian winger taking his time before thumping the ball high past Van Der Sar to the delight of the home fans.

There was plenty of pantomime villain booing, all good natured and taken in good sport – Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher in particular revelled in the roles they’d been cast.

And if anyone thought this was a stroll in the park, tackles from Messrs De Jong and Zabaleta soon dispelled the myth!

For most, it was just great to see former favourites back in a City shirt – while for the likes of Stephen Ireland, it was a chance to play with David Silva and Aguero for a while – and he didn’t look out of place.

Neville’s new fan club?

Craig Bellamy entered proceedings and was soon sprinting here and there and proving that, while he might have lost a yard or two in pace, the will to win remains the same.

On the half-hour, as Van Persie raced through, his dinked shot was superbly turned around the post by Hart – but seconds later Robbie Keane levelled, even giving his own VAR assessment and pointing to the centre circle.

Gary Neville was forced to depart late in the first half with what looked like a pulled hamstring, but he left to a warm reception a she left the pitch – what’s the world coming to?!

Neville the pundit has clearly has more friends in the blue half of the city than Neville the captain of the all-conquering United side of a decade or so ago!

The teams reached halfway with scores level.

Benjani, Micah Richards, Shay Given, Tim Cahill and Richard Wright appeared after the re-start and the All-Stars were soon in front with Van Persie firing home from inside the box on 48.

Thereafter, tired legs led to a raft of changes – the crowd bayed for Mario, but whether he was injured or maybe not allowed to play, the return of the prodigal son was confined to a watching brief only.

And there was no James Milner, either, who stayed on the bench but all credit to him for being part of the evening.

Fittingly, in the last minute, Benjani headed home the equaliser to the delight of the biggest testimonial crowd in City’s history – a fitting tribute to a player the fans clearly love more than he’ll ever know (though he probably does!).

Source: David Clayton| @dclayton_MCFC

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