Shaun WrightPhillips puts Manchester City in control in last 16 of Uefa Cup

12 March 2009 10:21
Manchester's travel agents will be doing a roaring trade. United's imperious form has put them on the road to Rome. City's tour of Europe's footballing outposts looks more and more likely to end in Istanbul.

Mark Hughes's side will surely find themselves in the pot for the Uefa Cup quarter-finals next Friday after goals from Felipe Caicedo and Shaun Wright-Phillips dispatched Danish champions AaB Aalborg.

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With many of the competition's big names already gone, there is no reason to suggest City cannot add to the ever-growing collection of European silverware in Manchester.

If Hughes's employers are to return to Valencia this summer and offer to put £50 million or more into the Spanish side's coffers in exchange for David Villa, boasting a gleaming Uefa Cup as proof of pedigree and promise would go some way to soothing the concerns of a player reluctant to leave his homeland.

This is a competition that Hughes has always taken seriously. His ethos has clearly been passed to his players. They raced out of the blocks, Robinho almost putting Wright-Phillips clean through within the first two minutes and Caicedo shooting over after good work from Stephen Ireland and Elano.

The Ecuadorian did not need a second invitation though. Receiving Robinho's pass on the edge of the box, he held off Michael Jakobsen, turned and slotted home. It was just a shame the hosts had a scarcely half-full stadium to witness the goal – just 24,596 of 48,000 seats were occupied despite cut-price tickets.

The silence was punctured only by the noise of 2,000 bouncing Danes and the occasional, gutsy denigrations from City's most dedicated followers.

Aalborg might not be Europe's most glamorous side and there may be a credit crunch on, but it is an irony that fans so hungry for silverware should stay away.

City's display here served as proof that such an attitude is their loss. Moments after Micah Richards had shot against goalkeeper Zaza's legs from a tight angle, Wright-Phillips twisted Patrick Kristensen's blood before unleashing a swerving 25-yard shot into the near corner. Robinho missed two gilt-edged chances in under a minute, skipping past Anders Due and firing at Zaza before somehow missing on the line after running to meet Wright-Phillips's cross. He even broke out his patented pedalada skill, bewitching Michael Beauchamp six times before the Australian kicked out on the edge of the six-yard box but somehow avoided conceding a penalty.

Aalborg struggled to create a meaningful chance, their captain Thomas Augustinussen side-footing wide their best opportunity, and after the break City managed to display most of their party pieces without so much as breaking a sweat.

Nedum Onuoha headed Elano's corner just over, Pablo Zabaleta saw one thunderous shot saved and Robinho, receiving Ireland's pass after yet another mazy run, forced Zaza into a fine reaction save.

Wright-Phillips, fed by substitute Ched Evans, fired wide when clean through.

It would take a shock of epic proportions to derail City in Denmark next week. As long as Hughes continues to show the tournament the respect it deserves, there is no reason why there cannot be a blue moon over the Bosphorus come May.

Match detailsManchester City (4-2-3-1): Given; Richards, Dunne, Onuoha, Bridge; Zabaleta, Ireland; Wright-Phillips (Etuhu 87), Elano, Robinho; Caicedo (Evans 63).Subs: Hart (g), Vassell, Garrido, Fernandes.Booked: Elano 72.Aalborg (4-5-1): Zaza; Bogelund, Beauchamp, Jakobsen, Kristensen; Caca, Enevoldsen (Risgaard 76), Augustinussen, Johansson, Due (Curth 65); Shelton.Subs: Nielsen (Jakobsen 86), Nomvete, Tracy, Christensen.Booked: Enevoldsen 71.Referee: A Hamer (Luxembourg).


Source: Telegraph