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Friday, February 27, 2009

Man City 2-1 Copenhagen (agg 4-3)



Craig Bellamy
Bellamy has now scored five goals for Manchester City

A second-half brace from Craig Bellamy helped Manchester City set up a last-16 Uefa Cup encounter with Aalborg after an effortless win over FC Copenhagen.

A strong City line-up were frustrated in the first half, with Robinho and Bellamy hitting the woodwork.

Bellamy shrugged off one defender to finish from 15 yards for his first and good work by Robinho on the left then allowed Bellamy to score from 10 yards.

Martin Vingaard finished to Shay Given's right for a consolation strike.

City were largely untroubled by the Danish visitors and manager Mark Hughes's pre-match proclamation that his City squad was big enough and strong enough to progress was proven right.

Although, in truth, the home side did not really have to flex all their muscles in a rainy Manchester against a team who are still on their winter break.

Copenhagen may have succeeded in frustrating City for the majority of the match, but it only seemed a matter of time until the home side scored.

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And there was perhaps no-one more deserving of two goals than the hard-working Bellamy, who was full of running and linked up well with the equally impressive Robinho.

The first half belonged to City, with Shay Given largely unemployed in the home goal.

City's chief entertainer, Robinho, went close on two occasions and was perhaps unfortunate not to have won a penalty.

In the 19th minute, he headed Bellamy's deflected shot onto the underside the crossbar and then a minute later danced past two defenders, forcing a fine save from the onrushing Jesper Christiansen.

On reflection, it seemed as if Mathias Zanka Jorgensen, who was left prostrate by Robinho as he went through, seemed to handle the ball while on the floor, but the incident was missed by referee Selcuk Dereli.

In the final minute before half-time Robinho set Bellamy free but the Welshman's scuffed shot rebounded off the corner of the far post.

City's frustrations grew as the second half progressed and, at times, they lacked a little patience in their build-up play, with Bellamy in particular being caught off-side a number of times.

The frailties in the City defence, which have been so evident this season, were again on show when Ailton Almeida was given time to turn inside the box and he unleashed a fine shot which went a few inches wide of the top corner.

Yet City continued to threaten, with Shaun Wright-Phillips wasting a great chance in the 53rd minute.

Robinho fed his fellow midfielder in the inside-right channel but, instead of shooting, Wright-Phillips slid the ball across goal for the supporting Ireland, who could not manage to get to it in time.

The much-anticipated breakthrough finally came when Ireland found Bellamy and the striker got the better of Jorgensen to coolly finish from 15 yards for his fourth goal in a Sky Blue shirt.

The majority of the 26,000 fans at Eastlands breathed a sigh of relief and City seemed to relax.

Robinho somehow missed a chance from four yards, but Bellamy clinically doubled the advantage with 11 minutes remaining.

Copenhagen responded spiritedly and Ailton should have scored from a rebound before Vingaard struck in injury time for his second of the tie.


Manchester City manager Mark Hughes:
"We were a little bit off the pace in the first half but, in the end, we won it comfortably and created a lot of chances.

"We've got a group of players who understand the demands that are going to be placed on them now and in the future.

"The expectation levels have been way ahead of any Manchester City team probably in the history of the club and we're dealing with it.

"A lot of teams have gone out by all accounts so let's see how far we can go. Further progression in a top European competition can only be good for us."


Man City: Given, Zabaleta (Elano 82), Onuoha, Dunne, Richards, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Kompany, Bridge, Robinho, Bellamy.
Subs Not Used: Hart, Garrido, Berti, Vassell, Caicedo, Evans.

Goals: Bellamy 73, 80.

FC Copenhagen: Christiansen, Pospech, Antonsson, Jorgensen, Wendt, Kvist, Kristensen (Sionko 46), Norregaard (Vingaard 76), Hutchinson, Almeida, Ndoye (Gronkjaer 59).
Subs Not Used: Coe, Niclas Jensen, Laursen, Nordstrand.

Booked: Kristensen, Wendt.

Goals: Vingaard 90.

Att: 26,018.

Ref: Selcuk Dereli (Turkey).

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