Hamburg 3 Manchester City 1

UEFA Cup Quarter Final, Leg One
Thursday 9 April 2009, 19:45 KO

City: Given, Richards, Dunne (c), Onuoha, Bridge (Garrido 45), Zabaleta, Ireland, Wright-Phillips (Gelson 83), Bellamy, Robinho, Sturridge (Benjani 61)
Unused: Hart, Berti, Elano, Petrov
Goals: Ireland (1)
Booked: Bellamy, Given
City Man of the Match: Shay Given

Guest report by Andrew Gartside.

A dream start to City’s UEFA Cup Quarter Final ended in a nightmare as Hamburg came from behind to take a commanding lead, going into the second leg at the City of Manchester Stadium.

It couldn’t have started better for the away side, as City took the lead with just 35 seconds on the clock, courtesy of Stephen Ireland. From the kick off, City picked the ball up in defence and, after working it to the centre circle, Ireland played an accurate long pass to the left wing, where Robinho took it in his stride expertly. He dummied a shot, before sliding a pass into Ireland, who had run the length of the half, to slot it into the corner to give City a crucial away goal and silence the Volksparkstadion.

To Hamburg’s credit, they didn’t let their heads drop and could have been level and even taken the lead within 5 minutes, had it not been for some fine goalkeeping from Shay Given.

The persistent pressure proved too much for City to handle, though, as they were pegged back after 9 minutes from a corner. Suspect marking led to Mathijsen being given a free run at the near post and his glancing header found the back of the net, via the hand of the unfortunate Shay Given.

Hamburg began to take full control of the game from then on in, creating several good chances, with the best being a header from Pitroipa that looped over a stranded Given only to hit the bar and be cleared to safety.

City’s only other real chance of the half fell to Craig Bellamy, who was sent through at a tight angle, but his shot was straight at the home side’s goalkeeper. Had he looked up, though, he might have found Ireland, who was waiting for a simple tap in.

The second half started how the first half ended, with Hamburg becoming increasingly more dominant as the game went on. Trochowski was consistently getting the better of Richards down the left wing, providing dangerous crosses into the box.

And it was he who scored Hamburg’s second. A relatively poor corner was cleared to the edge of the box, where Richards charged down a shot with his arms spread wide and in the air. The referee had no choice and pointed to the spot, and Trochowski converted, leaving Given with no chance.

City were beginning to look tired and defeated, as they struggled to keep up with a Hamburg team looking to put the tie to bed in the first leg. And it was telling on 79 minutes, when substitute Paolo Guerrero added the third.

Richards lazily allowed Trochowski to get in a low cross that ran right across the City backline to Guerrero, who was waiting at the back post to tap it into the net, and make the score reflect the hosts’ dominance.

It could have been even worse for City, but Given was on hand to produce another fine save in injury time and keep City’s hopes of a semi-final tie alive after the home leg next Thursday.

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