By William Wood | In Micah's Say
A dominant Manchester City secured a 2-1 victory over FC Copenhagen in the sides’ Uefa Cup second-leg clash at the City of Manchester stadium, handing them a 4-3 aggregate win, and Micah shared his views on the match exclusively with MicahRichards.com.
Unlike Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp and Aston Villa’s Martin O’Neill, Mark Hughes opted for a full-strength side as the Eastlanders looked to build on their slight advantage, with City carrying two away goals from the first encounter after a 2-2 draw in Denmark.
The hosts shook off any suggestion that nerves could get the better of them early on, Brazil international Robinho going close to edging Hughes’ men in front as he headed towards goal from close range only to see Jesper Christiansen knock the ball clear after it had initially rebounded down from the crossbar.
The forward then dribbled his way through two Copenhagen defenders, one of whom appeared to catch the ball with his hand, but the subsequent shot was well saved by the visitor’s goalkeeper.
Pablo Zabaleta, occupying a midfield role, was next to get in on the act as City mustered chance after chance without breaking the deadlock, though the Argentine’s effort from the edge of the penalty area was tame.
The lively Craig Bellamy was next up to strike the woodwork, a neat one-two between the Welshman and Robinho seeing the former chip the ball over Christiansen, but the ball bobbled its way on to the post.
It was, however, the visitors who threatened to unsettle the nerves of the home faithful as Ailton Almeida curled an effort goal-bound, but with Shay Given beaten, the ball flew a yard over the bar.
A Bellamy free-kick minutes later required the full attentions of the Copenhagen stopper, while Shaun Wright-Phillips’ attempted pass to Stephen Ireland after the England international had burst beyond the defence trickled agonisingly across the six-yard box and out of play.
City’s efforts were finally rewarded in the 73rd minute, though, as Bellamy collected Zabaleta’s pass and slotted the ball home, while Robinho should have extended the lead immediately after when he found the post rather than the back of the net from seven yards.
However, any possibility of an upset was ended when Bellamy powered home from inside Copenhagen’s box to put daylight between the two sides, though substitute Martin Vingaard ensured the away side went down fighting as he rifled beyond Given from 20-yards out.
All in all, Hughes will have been delighted with his side’s performance which, despite the late Copenhagen goal, suggested that their ambition to reach the final of the competition could be a realistic possibility.
“I’m really pleased to reach the last-16 and we played well,” Micah said. “We controlled the game over both fixtures and I’m looking forward to the next round already.”
“We missed a lot of chances in the first-half in particular, but we were never too worried as we knew we could score and were therefore confident.”
“The only down side was conceding the late goal having stifled their attack for the majority of the game, and that was really frustrating.”
“Luckily, though, it didn’t affect the outcome, and we still progressed which was the main thing.”