Barclay’s English Premiership
Friday 26 December 2008, 15:00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Dunne (c), Richards (Onuoha 45), Ball, Kompany, Elano, Ireland (Gelson 85), Robinho, Wright-Phillips, Caicedo (Jo 45)
Unused: Schmeichel, Garrido, Vassell, Sturridge
Goals: Caicedo (15, 27), Robinho (28, 36), Ireland (82)
City Man of the Match: Stephen Ireland
After a desolate performance at bottom of the league West Brom, Mark Hughes recalled Elano and gave Felipe Caicedo his first Premier League start. Robinho came back from his ankle injury, also, to boost the blues’ efforts for a first win in five league matches.
City could have taken the lead inside 60 seconds, as Zayatte failed to clear the ball in his own penalty area, finding only Stephen Ireland. City’s number 7 then found Felipe Caicedo who, when perhaps the shot was a better option, squared for Robinho, and the Brazilian’s shot didn’t trouble Myhill.
Elano broke a couple of minute later and appeared to be fouled on his way to the box. But the referee said no and Hull countered, with King forcing a good save from Hart as he broke into City’s area.
Stephen Ireland fired a volley over from a corner, before a vicious shot from Robinho forced Myhill into a good save. City’s pressure was getting heavier and, on the quarter of the hour mark, the home side took the lead.
Richard Dunne stole the ball in defence and carried it 40 yards up the pitch, before finding Robinho on the left wing. City’s record signing then sent an inch-perfect pass over the top to Stephen Ireland on the right wing and the Irishman fired the ball low and hard across the box. Felipe Caicedo was on hand to smash the ball into the roof of the net, from a yard out.
Robinho dazzled the Hull defence with a series of step overs as he entered the box from the left. And his curling effort was well pushed around the post by Myhill, who looked like he was in for a busy day.
With 27 minutes on the clock, Stephen Ireland latched on to a poor clearance and broke down the right. As with the first goal, he fired the ball across the six yard box and Felipe Caicedo was, once again, in the right place to slot the ball home.
With everyone watching the replays of Caicedo’s second on the big screens, a lot of fans could have missed Robinho make it 3-0. A minute later, Stephen Ireland robbed the ball in the midfield and released Robinho. He was closed down by the Hull defence, but he cut the ball onto his right foot and bent it around Myhill into the bottom right corner of the goal.
Hull tried to catch City off guard by kicking off with half the team still celebrating, but it nearly backfired as City nicked the ball and broke, with Caicedo hammering a header into Myhill’s arms.
Hull’s chances had been isolated, but they had the opportunity to make it 3-1 through former City man Geovanni, but the Brazilian’s free kick was held by Joe Hart, low to his right.
And then, with ten minutes of the first half remaining, City extended their lead. Elano lobbed the ball over the Shaun Wright-Phillips on the right flank and his cross found Robinho in the area, with the Brazilian able to knock the ball past Myhill to stun the visiting fans.
It could have been five when Wright-Phillips forced a good save from Myhill and then the tricky England international stumbled through two challenges and into the six yard box, but the ball bobbled as he went to hit it with he less favoured left foot and it trickled wide.
The Hull manager then made his feelings known, giving his side a good talking to right in front of the visiting fans.
The second half was no contest, with Hull having a lot of possession, but failing to trouble Joe Hart. City were content to play keep-ball when they had possession, with the occasional push to the Hull goal.
With 17 minutes to go, Shaun Wright-Phillips watched a powerful drive fly just over Myhill’s bar and then, with 11 minutes to go, Myhill was left flat-footed as Elano’s free kick smacked into the Hull wall, before clipping the post.
Daniel Cousin then fired a shot across City’s goal, and Joe Hart parried. Unfortunately for City, the ball rebounded off Onuoha at speed, before landing to the feet of Fagan, who slotted home despite a last gasp challenge from Dunne and Onuoha on the line.
But it hardly mattered as, two minutes later, Stephen Ireland restored City’s four goal advantage. Ireland found Robinho on the left and the Brazilian tricked his way into the area. With everybody hoping he would get his hat-trick goal, he unselfishly squared to Ireland, who was unmarked, and he swept the ball into the net.
Ireland then received a standing ovation from the home crowd, when he was replaced by Gelson Fernandes with five minutes to go.
City leaped out of the bottom three in style and the home fans will be hoping to see more performances like that in the coming weeks to get the blues back to the right end of the table. Roll on Blackburn on Sunday.