Date: 9th April 2009 at 11:36pm
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Manchester City opened the game is spectacular fashion as Stephen Ireland gave City the lead after just 35 seconds. Hamburg took control after the goal and responded three times to come back from behind and take a two-goal cushion into the return leg at The City Of Manchester Stadium.

City’s hope of progression is hanging in the balance as they seek a 2-0 win at Eastlands to turn the tie in their favour. Not even the spectacular Shay Given could keep out the rampant Hamburg, and if it were not for him, City could have found themselves on the end of complete demolition at the Nordbank Arena.

City Made the perfect start, the brilliant Stephen Ireland creating and finishing off the move by picking out Robinho with a fantastic long ball who brought it down, cut inside and layed it off to the oncoming Ireland who had continued his run, sprinting half the pitch to slot it past the keeper.

Hamburg were stunned but almost responded immediately with Shay Given making a point-blank save from Croatian Mladen Petric in the fifth minute. Michael Gravgaard forced another fantastic save from Given three minutes later before they finally managed to beat him.

Hamburg equalised as Joris Mathijsen managed to lose his marker following a corner. Given managed to get a hand to the ball but he could not prevent the defender from scoring. Had he left it, Shaun Wright-Phillips might have perhaps cleared it off the line.

Ater 21 minutes Jonathan Pitroipa almost put Hamburg in the lead with a looping header to come back off the top of the bar before Marcell Jansen struck a powerful volley that Given parried away for a Hamburg corner.

Manchester City were on the back foot although they were still dangerous on the counter-attack. In the 29th minute Craig Bellamy found the suprise addition to the City line-up Daniel Sturridge at the far post but he couldn’t keep it down and sent his header over the bar.

A couple of minutes later Richard Dunne got in on the action with a shot blocked following a corner.

City’s offensive was short lived and Hamburg were pinning city back in their own half once again.

Just before half time, Given made another great save from Trochowski’s shot in the 43rd minute, which he pushed away to safety. Hamburg should have been 4-1 up at least, City had Given to thank for saving their blushes.

Halftime: Hamburg 1 Manchester City 1.

Javier Garrido came on after the break for Wayne Bridge who was struggling with an injury.

Hamburg piled on the pressure, just as they had towards the end of the first half and created another great chance in the 61st minute.

Pitroipa again caused City problems, this time getting on the end of a corner only for Shaun Wright-Phillips to hack the ball off the line with Given beaten.

The home side maintained the momentum and the turning point came when City defender Micah Richards raised his arms to block Mathijsen’s shot and Martin Jol’s side were awarded a clear penalty by referee Olegario Benquerenca. Piotr Trochowski easily converted it with a powerful shot past Given to give Hamburg a 2-1 lead.

After 79 minutes of play, substitute Jose Guerrero made it 3-1 to Hamburg, shinning the ball in at the back post after being left completely unmarked.

It was the nail in the coffin for City who started brightly but just could not manage to threaten the Hamburg goal throughout a one-sided second half.

Fulltime: Hamburg 3 Manchester City 1.

Share Your Thoughts
City’s poor result was another example of their terrible away form this season, nothing goes right for them and they bring it all on themselves.

This game could be summarised in a few words, most of them offensive. I will try my best to give a balanced opinion, although its fair to say, I won’t try particularly hard as I need to clear my mind!

If the game lasted two minutes we played brilliantly and looked like we could go all the way. As it was, the game lasted 90 minutes and we played terribly for 88 of them.

The first goal was classic City, spectacular build up with a spectacular finish. Stephen Ireland did an outstanding job to set it up and finish it off, even Robinho had a hand to play in the magnificence of it.

A few minutes later after Hamburg had settled, they got their goal. Another awful defensive error from a set piece cost us dearly.

I cannot even count how many set pieces we have failed to defend from, yet we continually give away corners and free kicks like theres no tomorrow. We simply arn’t good enough at the back.

Richards then gifted Hamburg a penalty (another set piece), raising his arms in the box like an olympic volleyball player ready to smash the ball over the net.

The final goal was just tired legs and lack of concentration, similar to the goal Porto scored against Utd.

The whole time this defensive suicide mission was going on, who did we bring on to save the day? Garrido, Benjani and Fernandes.

I expected things from Benjani and he didn’t deliver. I expected things from Garrido, and he did deliver (bad defending). As for Fernandes… What does he do in training that makes any sane manager pick him?! First Sven chose him, now Hughes is picking him. He is not a defensive option, he is a liability. Pick Elano, pick Petrov, pick Berti bloody Glauber, anyone except, FERNANDES!

For the performance I can’t portion the blame entirely on Hughes, the individual error by Richards cost us dearly and the performance from our back line was below par.

Tactically, we attacked, but it was not enough against a better Hamburg side who easily pushed us back. The subsitutes were ineffective and were a step backwards, not forwards.

Overall, I am deeply disappointed. We had a few good individual performances but not as a team.

Hughes needs to go away and come back to the table with something better because City are becoming a blunt sword. Today, we were slain by a sharper Hamburg side.