By William Wood | In Micah's Say
Micah returned from injury as Manchester City cruised to a 2-0 victory over Aalborg in the last-16 of the Uefa Cup, and the England international gave his thoughts on the game exclusively to MicahRichards.com.
The visitors travelled to the City of Manchester stadium unbeaten in 16 competitive fixtures, and they had proven their credentials prior to dropping out of the Champions League with an impressive win and draw against Scottish champions Celtic as well as a point from their clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford.
However, Mark Hughes’ men continued their impressive run of form at home, playing fluid football from the off and causing the Aalborg defence no end of problems.
Having shaken off the troublesome hamstring problem that ruled him out of City’s most recent Premier League fixtures, Micah looked fresh and enthusiastic at right-back, bursting forward early on only to see Shaun Wright-Phillips’ cross find an offside Felipe Caicedo.
The latter went close soon after with a blasted effort from the edge of the box, but he managed to break the deadlock after just eight minutes after a fine turn and finish past the visitor’s helpless goalkeeper.
The goal rattled the Danish side for several minutes, though Thomas Enevoldsen should have done better when they did finally regain their composure as he blasted high and wide when under pressure from Stephen Ireland.
The away side continued to grow in confidence as the half progressed, and Shay Given had to be on full alert to knock the ball behind after Caca had turned Nedum Onouha in the penalty area.
Micah continued to probe down the flank and was almost through on goal after a delightful ball through by Robinho, but Karim Zaza was alert to the danger to clear the ball into touch.
As Aalborg sought to establish themselves in the game, City extended their lead courtesy of a fine curling effort from Wright-Phillips, the diminutive midfielder advancing to the edge of the box before unleashing into the back of his opponent’s goal.
Moments later, however, Thomas Augustinussen should have pegged City back as he placed his shot wide from inside City’s box, while at the other end replays suggested Robinho should have won a penalty after some dazzling skills from the Brazilian.
City continued to press for more goals after the break, Ireland in particular growing in stature as he aimed several balls through the Aalborg defence to no avail.
Micah went close to scoring during what was a dull spell of play midway through the second-half, Ireland playing a ball through to Robinho who in turn stood the ball up for the 20-year old, but to his disappointment the ball was hacked off the line.
A lovely take down by Elano soon after allowed Wright-Phillips to rifle in a shot, but the ball swerved wide of the visitor’s goal, while Aalborg offered little in the way of attacks on Given’s goal.
Robinho and Elano combined as they cut through the away side’s defence, and while the former was brought down amid appeals for a penalty from the home faithful, the referee waved play on.
The Eastlanders took their foot off the gas slightly with a two goal advantage established, and there was little more action of note as Hughes watched on from the touchline.
As the final whistle blew, City will have acknowledged that the latter half was less entertaining than the first 45 minutes, but it was a case of job done as the hosts go into the return leg high on confidence.
“We played really well today and overall it was a really positive performance,” Micah said.
“We know that the tie is in our own hands now, and we’ll be confident going into the away leg.”
“Obviously we can’t take anything for granted as we have to play away from home and it won’t be easy, but I’m looking forward to the reverse fixture.”
Having sat out most of the defeat to West Ham as well as the entire match against Aston Villa, Micah may have been lacking match sharpness, but he turned in an impressive performance down the right-hand side of City’s defence.
“I think I’m getting sharper and fitter in every game, and I was pleased with my performance tonight,” he continued.
“The team in general had a good game which helped, but I think I’m starting to get there on an individual level.”
Micah looked to have added his name to the scoresheet only for the effort to be knocked clear off the line, much to the youngster’s disappointment.
“I thought it was going to go in!” he added. “The lads told me after the game that I was offside anyway so it wouldn’t have counted.”