Aalborg 2 Manchester City 0 (3-4 on pens)

UEFA Cup Round of 16, Leg Two
Thursday 19 March 2009, 20:00 KO

City: Given, Richards, Dunne (c), Onuoha, Bridge (Garrido 54), Zabaleta, Kompany (Elano 107), Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Robinho (Caicedo 96), Evans
Unused: Hart, Gelson, Etuhu, Berti
Booked: Kompany, Wright-Phillips
City Man of the Match: Pablo Zabaleta

City went into this game knowing that a goal would leave the home side needing four goals to win, and if they could keep the Danes down to one goal, they would progress to the last eight. But, just as it seemed trips to Denmark were becoming a regular thing, things just didn’t seem to want to happen as easily as that.

City started the game the brighter, seemingly able to put their foot on the ball and play it around much better than their hosts. Ireland had a first minute shot charged down, while an Evans cross just evaded Ireland and Robinho after 11 minutes.

Robinho then had a shot deflected with, before Dunne had to be alert to stop an Aalborg breakaway after a lucky bounce nearly set Risgaard in.

Evans could have created an excellent chance on 16 minutes, but a heavy touch after a superb turn let the ball run away from him and the home side were able to clear comfortably. Ireland then had a curling effort that was well over, before Richards had the chance to cross but failed to deliver.

After 31 minutes, Dunne broke from defence with the ball, through the midfield and into attack. He layed it off to Evans, who looked to play Ireland in, but the Irishman was a couple of yards offside.

On 42 minutes, Robinho was perhaps too selfish, after he shot from a narrow angle, trying to beat the keeper at his near post. He had done all the hard work, tricked his way into the box, but the square pass was the better option.

Just before half time, Zabaleta had a go from range, but his effort was about a yard wide. City had dominated the half, failed to take one of their many chances, but were still in control of the tie.

The second half couldn’t have been more in contrast. The hosts came out with a passion, knowing they needed two goals to force extra time.

The first action saw Risgaard go down in the box, but the referee wasn’t interested and he waved play on. This was something that would become something of a pattern for the half.

Evans had an effort deflected just over on 48 minutes, after a sharp turn set him up for a half volley with his left foot. A minute later, he was through on goal, but an unfortunate bobble as he swung his foot, saw the ball to head towards the corner flag and not the goal.

The hosts began to have more and more possession and they were a ball’s width away from a goal through Caca’s shot from the edge of the box, but it looked like Given had it covered had it been on target.

Just before the hour, Robinho broke and tried to square for Evans when through, but wide, on goal. Unfortunately for City, the ball was intercepted and cleared.

Garrido, who had replaced the injured and ill Bridge five minutes earlier, was lucky not to have conceded a penalty after an hour, when he dived in and looked to have got all of the man and none of the ball. But the referee waved play on, much to his relief, as Shelton shot wide.

Seven minutes later and the home fans wanted another penalty. A cross was whipped in from the left and Beauchamp threw himself to the ground under a challenge from Onuoha and the referee correctly booked him for diving.

Robinho then gave the ball away on the edge of his own box trying the tricks and, luckily for City, Dunne was able to get enough of a block on the following shot to send it for a corner. Aalborg fired another warning shot across City’s bows from it, as a header flashed straight across Given’s goal.

With ten minutes to go, a fantastic save from Given denied Shelton after he latched on to a blast out of the Aalborg defence.

Minutes later, City were back up the other end and, from a short corner, Ireland gave the ball to Robinho, who got into the box after a one-two, and fired a shot against the crossbar. Evans then had a golden chance to win it for the visitors, but his volley from inside the box bobbled into the Zaza’s hands.

With five minutes to go, Aalborg threw themselves a lifeline. The ball was crossed in from the right and Dunne slipped in challenging the original header. It was flicked to Luton Shelton, who took the ball down and volleyed past Given. Replays suggested he controlled it with his arm, but City should still have been able to get to full time with a 1-2 aggregate lead.

But as the game entered time added on, a flicked on corner hit Evans on the arm and, despite him not being able to see the ball and his arm being by his side, the referee pointed to the spot, with Jakobsen sending Given the wrong way.

And so it was extra time in Denmark again.

The chances in extra time were few and far between, with Richards making an excellent break down the right, but giving the ball straight to the defenders, and Wright-Phillips running straight into trouble in the box before Ireland’s shot from the edge of the area was blocked.

It was backs against the wall stuff from City, denying Aalborg any chances as extra time headed on, but the visitors were unable to get out of their own half.

Onuoha put in an excellent challenge with just three minutes to go to deny a one-on-one chance, before City took the sting out of the game with some possession in midfield as the game went to penalties.

Michael Jakobsen scored: 1-0
Ched Evans scored: 1-1
Andreas Johansson scored: 2-1
Elano scored: 2-2
Thomas Augustinussen missed: 2-2
Shaun Wright-Phillips scored: 2-3
Siyabonga Nomvethe scored: 3-3
Richard Dunne scored: 3-4
Luton Shelton missed: 3-4

Two saves from Shay Given sent City into the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup, after a tie that should have been over after the first leg. Nevertheless, City survive the scare and the lessons have been learnt, so we have to wait and see who the draw will bring on Friday.

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