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Micah Richards

Thursday October 2, 2008Manchester City 2 - Omonia Nicosia 1

By Steve Sutcliffe | In Match Reports - Away Games

Manchester City win 4-2 on Aggregate

Second-half goals from Elano and Shaun Wright-Phillips were enough to see Manchester City progress into the group stages of the Uefa Cup.

After a nervy first half Elano broke the deadlock after the break, meeting a Robinho pass with a thumping shot into the bottom corner. Wright – Phillips made it 2-0 soon after, firing home after evading two challenges.

Omonia replied late on through Rasheed Alabi’s header but by then City were on cruise control and turning their thoughts to their opponents in the group phase.

City led by stand in skipper Micah Richards in the absence of Richard Dunne
started cautiously and it was a far cry from the performance in their previous outing at Eastlands which had seen them knock six past Portsmouth.

Mark Hughes fielded all three of his Brazilian contingent; Robinho, Jo and Elano, but the samba stars, like their team-mates struggled to find rhythm in the early stages.

Micah Richards did force a save from Antonis Georgallides in the second minute but his header was directed straight at the Omonia goalkeeper, who was grossly underworked during the rest of the first half.

City dominated possession with Omonia seemingly content to defend and play on the counter attack. The Cypriot side had shocked the blues in the first leg by taking the lead but the closest they came to beating Joe Hart while City were toiling was when an Efstathios Aloneftis corner narrowly eluded the onrushing Timo Wenzel.

And any hope that the visitors had of causing an upset were snuffed out by two goals in the space of seven minutes after the break.

Elano set the ball rolling when he met a Robinho pass with a fine first-time strike from the edge of the area and city were now a different proposition.

Robinho wriggled down the left again moments later and it took an important interception from Georgallides to prevent his cross reaching Ireland who would have had an easy tap-in for two nil.

Wright-Phillips then forced another save from Georgallides, when he met Javier Garrido’s cross with an instinctive shot and moments later he was on the scoresheet when he latched on to Ireland’s flick, skipped though two challenges and buried a fierce shot into the back of the net.

From then on it was comfortable for the home side, who suddenly opened up and played the type of expansive football that their fans will demand to see over the coming months.

Robinho almost added a thirdl when he forced a fine near-post stop from Georgallides but in a final flurry it was the visitors who were next on the scoresheet.

Alabi escaped Tal Ben-Haim’s attention at a corner and beat Hart with a powerful near-post header to give Omonia’s vocal travelling support something to celebrate.

That took some of the gloss off City’s second-half display but Hughes can take satisfaction from the way his players responded.

Another boost for Hughes was the return of Martin Petrov, who came off the bench after a month out with a hamstring injury and brought two more decent saves out of Georgallides before the end.

Match Stats

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Richards, Ben Haim, Garrido, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Kompany (Hamann 66), Elano, Robinho (Petrov 70), Jo (Evans 67).

Subs not used: Schmeichel, Ball, Fernandes, Sturridge.

Booked: Ben Haim 89.

Goals: Elano 48, Wright-Phillips 55.

Omonia Nicosia: Giorgallides, Ndikumana, Wenzel, Pletsch, Zlogar, Kaiafas (Alabi 46), Bangura (Clayton 59), Okkas, Charalambous, Aloneftis, Christofi (Cafu 82).

Subs not used: Asprogenis, Maris, Aguirre, Pantic.

Goals: Alabi 78.

Att: 25,304

Ref: Said Ennjimi.