Hughes Keeps Faith In Robinho

23 March 2009 07:09
Manchester City

boss Mark Hughes has backed £32.5million man Robinho

to hit the goal trail again soon following his spot-kick nightmare against Sunderland

on Sunday.

Micah Richards

' second-half header ensured City did not have cause to regret Robinho's miss when he tamely rolled his 18th-minute effort straight to Marton Fulop


It extended a goalless streak that dates back to December 28 for the Brazilian. Yet Hughes remains solidly behind his man.

"Robinho was confident enough to take the ball and try to score," observed Hughes.

"He wants to make a positive impact and was obviously disappointed he wasn't able to put the penalty away.

"He kept on trying and had good opportunities in the second half as well. The desire to make amends for the miss was there for everyone to see."

Hughes also refused to condemn Robinho for his penalty routine, the trademark stutter failing to put Fulop off.

"He played cat and mouse with the keeper, who is a big guy," said Hughes.

"If he chooses the correct side there is a chance he may be able to stop it. It happens."

Instead, Richards salvaged victory against the 10-man Black Cats with only his third goal for City and offered further evidence of a revival in a career that has stagnated over the past 18 months.

"People forget he is only 20," said Hughes.

"Players have fluctuations in form at such a young age but he seems to be coming good at the business end of the season."

Richards revelled in the extra space on offer once George McCartney

had been red-carded for hauling back Shaun Wright-Phillips

and capped a fine display by nodding home Elano's curling free-kick 12 minutes into the second period.

For Sunderland, a prolonged battle to escape the drop looms.

While Black Cats boss Ricky Sbragia was happy enough with his side's effort, he knew they were up against it as soon as McCartney was dismissed.

And, after watching the incident again on TV, he felt referee Steve Tanner and assistant Mo Matadar got it wrong and should step in to save McCartney from suspension.

"Maybe he should look at rescinding the red card," said Sbragia.

"There was some sort of contact but the goalkeeper had got the ball in his hands.

"The referee asked the linesman a question but there was no definitive answer. They ummed and aahed a bit and came up with that. It was the pivotal moment."

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