By William Wood | In Micah's Say
Manchester City hearts were broken as they defeated Hamburg 2-1 in the second-leg of their Uefa Cup quarter-final clash but failed to grab the vital third to level the aggregate score, and Micah reflected on the disappointment exclusively with MicahRichards.com.
Mark Hughes’ men needed to reverse a 3-1 deficit from the first-leg, and from the off the Premier League side set out their stall to attack.
With eight minutes on the clock, Micah spotted a gap in the Hamburg defence and burst through, but just as he lined up a shot he lost his footing, allowing the ball to roll towards Frank Rost.
In response, Jonathon Pitroipa blasted in a shot that rebounded off Nedum Onouha into the path of Ivica Olic, but the latter’s effort was parried clear by Shay Given.
The atmosphere in the City of Manchester was electric as the packed crowd spurred on their team, but they were silenced momentarily as Martin Jol’s side grabbed the opener.
Olic’s miscontrol fell to Paolo Guerrero who subsequently drilled into the back of the City goal to hand his side a three goal advantage, though their celebrations were cut short as Piotr Trochowski blocked Elano’s shot with his hand, and the Brazilian stepped up to level the score.
Elano was posing a real threat to Hamburg’s defence, and midway through the first half he floated in a ball to the back post, though Stephen Ireland could only direct it into the side-netting.
Trochowski went close to making amends for his earlier error by heading towards goal, but Given was equal to it, while Elano belted a free-kick from 30-yards against the crossbar.
City returned from the interval even more intent than in the first half and they got their just rewards, Felipe Caicedo collecting Ireland’s pass, jinking past the defender and slotting home left-footed to send the crowd into raptures.
Micah applauds City fans after the final whistle blows
The hosts were then denied once again by the woodwork, Elano curling another free-kick over the wall and, after receiving a slight deflection, saw the ball strike Rost’s post.
A lovely flick from Robinho a minute later allowed Pablo Zabaleta to curl goalwards, though it was right down Rost’s throat, while Caicedo appeared to have found the goal they so craved when he rounded the Hamburg keeper only for the linesman to flag him for offside.
Brazil international Robinho also went close, bursting through on goal and beating Rost to the ball, but the referee adjudged him to have fouled the stopper, and his subsequent shot was wide anyway.
Events took a turn for the worse as Richard Dunne was dismissed for a second bookable offence after he had brought goalscorer Guerrero down, though City continued to push forward in search of the aggregate leveller.
Hamburg, though, were capitalising on City’s offensive pressure, and Olic forced Given into a superb save to keep the scores as they were.
A lovely spell of play from City saw Micah play a one-two with Robinho and burst beyond the Hamburg defence, though he failed to get over the ball and the effort flew high and wide.
The final few minutes saw the home side throw everything at their opponents to no avail, and as the game drew to a close mixed emotions filled Eastlands – City had given it their all and put in an impressive display, but their European adventure was over courtesy of a 4-3 aggregate loss.
“I’m really gutted that we lost after coming so close, but we gave it our all,” Micah said.
“We had plenty of chances to add to our goal tally, including the two chances I had which I’m disappointed I didn’t convert.”
“With the first chance I just slipped, and with the second I couldn’t go over the top of the ball in time.”
“However, in a way we can go out with our heads held high as we deserved to win, and maybe win by more, against a top quality side.”
“We’ve still got a chance to get a top-seven position in the league and get back into the competition next season, and we’ll try to take the positives from this clash.”
After an electric atmosphere throughout the game, Micah reserved special praise for the fans who supported the players during the two legs.
“The fans were absolutely brilliant and I’m just sorry we couldn’t get the result we all wanted. They were our 12th man and it really helped us, especially at the end when some of our legs were struggling – mine included.”