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13.03.2009 Football News

Man City take control of Uefa Cup tie

Man City take control of Uefa Cup tie

Manchester City took control of their Uefa Cup last-16 tie against Aalborg with a comfortable first-leg victory.

City took the lead after seven minutes when Felipe Caicedo muscled his way past Michael Jackobsen and fired home.

Caca forced a good save out of Shay Given as the Danes responded but Shaun Wright-Phillips made it 2-0 with a superb strike into the top corner.

Robinho should have had a penalty when he was fouled in the box but City still have a healthy lead to take to Denmark.

Aalborg had arrived in Manchester on the back of a 16-game unbeaten run that included a thumping 6-1 win over Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna in the last round.

The Danes ended up in the Uefa Cup after finishing third in their Champions League group, where they had enough quality to take four points off Celtic and draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

On paper at least, it appeared they would provide a stern test to City but the manner of this win means Mark Hughes' men will approach the second leg on 19 March in confident mood.

City, who had won their previous five home games, were quickly into their stride and their fluid passing soon opened up the visitors' defence.

Caicedo had already fired narrowly over when he broke the deadlock, picking up Robinho's pass on the edge of the area and brushing off Jackobsen's challenge before slotting past Karim Zaza.

That could have opened the floodgates for City, given that Aalborg were still looking nervous and giving the ball away far too often.

But, while Magnus Pehrsson's side continued to look vulnerable at the back, they responded with their best spell of the match and could easily have levelled.

Andreas Johansson had a ferocious shot blocked by Micah Richards with City's defence stretched, before Given saved smartly with his legs after Caca cut inside Nedum Onuoha and let fly.

The speed at which City launched their attacks was still causing Aalborg problems, however, and Zaza had to deny Richards from a tight angle after Robinho's precise pass found the full-back rampaging down the right.

And Wright-Phillips' unstoppable strike moments later underlined the fact that City's quality in the final third was the biggest difference between the two sides on the night.

The England winger left Patrick Kristensen in his wake before smashing the ball past Zaza and into the top corner from 25 yards out.

To their credit, Aalborg continued to come forward and Thomas Augustinssen went close to pulling a goal back when he curled his shot agonisingly wide from the edge of the area.

But City continued to look dangerous too and they should have won a penalty before half-time when Robinho, after bamboozling Michael Beauchamp with a succession of step-overs, was hacked down by the Australian defender only for referee Alain Hamer to decide against a spot-kick.

The game followed a similar pattern after the break, with City fashioning the better chances and Aalborg committing plenty of men forward in the hope of snatching an away goal.

Onuoha headed Elano's corner over when he should have found the target and Pablo Zabaleta tested Zaza again from long range.

Zaza did even better to stop Robinho's first-time shot after good work by Stephen Ireland, while Wright-Phillips was horribly off-target following another sublime Elano through-ball.

There was still time for the Danes to threaten again before the end when Caca fired wide when well placed but their failure to score means City will be favourites to progress to the quarter-finals.

Man City: Given, Richards, Onuoha, Dunne, Bridge, Wright-Phillips (Etuhu 87), Zabaleta, Ireland, Elano, Robinho, Caicedo (Evans 63).
Subs Not Used: Hart, Vassell, Garrido, Fernandes, Berti.

Booked: Elano.
Goals: Caicedo 8, Wright-Phillips 30.
AaB: Zaza, Bogelund, Beauchamp, Jakobsen (Lasse Nielsen 86), Kristensen, Augustinussen, Caca, Johansson, Enevoldsen (Risgaard 76), Due (Curth 66), Shelton.
Subs Not Used: Kenneth Nielsen, Nomvethe, Tracy, Christensen.

Booked: Enevoldsen.
Att: 24,502
Ref: Alain Hamer (Luxembourg).