By Steve Sutcliffe | In Match Reports - Home Games
Robinho stole the show as Manchester City earned a hard fought 3-2 victory against FC Twente in Group A of the Uefa Cup.
City got off to a flying start and were ahead inside 3 minutes when Shaun-Wright Phillips opened the scoring but hesitant home defending allowed Eljero Elia to level.
City seemed to toil until Robinho fired a curling shot into the top corner after the break and Benjani’s deflected shot made it 3-1.
But a Rob Wielaert’s header pulled a goal back for Twente and, after Robinho hit the post twice for City, a late miss by Stein Huysegems cost Twente a point.
City produced moments of exhilarating attacking play but their defensive vulnerability was also evident as the final score line summed up their inconsistent season thus far.
City had taken the lead as early as the 2nd minute when Wright-Phillips exchanged passes with Jo before charging into the penalty area and firing into the bottom corner. Robinho then forced Sander Boschker into a smart save soon after as the home side looked to press home their advantage.
But on the 17th minute Twente hit back when the home defence were caught off guard after what had seemed a foul by Elia on Zabaleta. With the Blues rearguard hesitant the Dutch U21 forward raced on to the loose ball and fired a low shot past Joe Hart.
Twente visibly grew in confidence after the equaliser and were the better side for the rest of the half.
City were much improved after the interval and Wright-Phillips had already gone close when Robinho struck on 57 minutes. The Brazilian collected a Stephen Ireland pass on the left-hand edge of the area and unleashed a curling right foot shot into the top right corner past the helpless Boschker. A moment of pure class from the man of the night.
City looked to have put the match beyond doubt when Benjani, making his first appearance of the season after a thigh injury, added a third five minutes later. His eighteen-yard strike beating goalkeeper Sander Boschker courtesy of a deflection via Brazilian defender Douglas.
City’s two goal advantage lasted just 3 minutes. Wielaert was allowed to rise unmarked at the near post and he headed home to give the visitors hope.
Twente pressed for an equaliser and substitute Huysegems passed up a chance on the 70th minute when he scuffed his shot wide from the edge of the area. Robinho then went agonisingly close to sealing victory – twice firing against the same post after producing a mazy dribble.
Then in the 90th minute Huysegems almost stole a priceless point for Twente but he fired over the crossbar from six yards out with the goal at his mercy. And while Steve Mclaren and his team will head back to the Netherlands feeling aggrieved Mark Hughes and his team will be aware that this result should now provide the Blues with a stepping stone towards qualification from this group.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Richards, Dunne, Garrido, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Fernandes, Vassell (Elano 66), Robinho, Jo (Mwaruwari 59).
Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Onuoha, Ben-Haim, Hamann, Evans.
Goals: Wright-Phillips 2, Robinho 57, Mwaruwari 62.
FC Twente: Boschker, Stam, Wielaert, Franco, Braafheid, Tiote (Janssen 79), Brama (Wellenberg 64), Hersi, Arnautovic (Huysegems 32), Nkufo, Elia.
Subs Not Used: Paauwe, Perez, Heubach, Gerritsen.
Goals: Elia 17, Wielaert 65.
Ref: Nikolai Ivanov (Russia).