All down hill for City after Ireland's early strike

All down hill for City after Ireland's early strike

Hamburg 3 Manchester City 1

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes saw his side make a stunning start in the UEFA Cup quarter-final then suddenly implode at the Nordbank Arena.

Stephen Ireland’s opener after only 35 seconds only prompted an onslaught from Hamburg, who will take a two-goal cushion into the return leg at Eastlands next week.

City’s hopes of progress are hanging by a thread after another dismal away day despite a superb display by goalkeeper Shay Given.

Just eight points from a possible 48 have been taken on the road in the Premier League.

Yet they could not have wished for a better beginning to the game. Ireland started and finished the move, picking out Robinho with a wonderful long ball.

The Brazilian cut inside and released the midfielder, who had continued his run.

Ireland showed little hesitation to drill a shot beyond goalkeeper Frank Rost for his 11th goal of the season to leave Hamburg stunned.

The hosts however responded and Given made a marvellous point-blank save from Mladen Petric in the fifth minute.

Three minutes later Michael Gravgaard forced another superb block from Given before Hamburg equalised.

Joris Mathijsen peeled away from his marker following a corner from Piotr Trochowski and although Given got a hand to the ball he could not prevent the defender scoring.

Hamburg almost took the lead in the 21st minute only for Jonathan Pitroipa’s looping header to come back off the top of the bar.

Then Given did well to parry a shot from Marcell Jansen as City again found themselves on the back foot.

City launched a swift counter-attack in the 29th minute and Bellamy found Sturridge at the back post but he sent his header over the bar.

Two minutes later Richard Dunne got on the end of a corner from Ireland, only to see his effort blocked.

It was not long though before Hamburg were back on the offensive with Petric scuffing a shot wide from the edge of the area in the 35th minute.

And they almost took the lead in the 43rd minute only for Given to parry Trochowski’s close-range effort.

The City goalkeeper was a spectator as Gravgaard’s overhead kick went over his head but clipped the top of the bar a minute before half time.

Hamburg kept up the pressure and carved out another good chance in the 61st minute.

Pitroipa got on the end of a corner from Trochowski, only for Shaun Wright-Phillips to scramble the ball off the line with Given beaten.

It was good defensive work by the midfielder and City were no doubt grateful to him.

However, the home side maintained the momentum and took the lead two minutes later when Micah Richards was adjudged to have handled Mathijsen’s effort.

Richards could have little complaint as Trochowski stepped up and slotted his penalty kick coolly past Given to put Hamburg 2-1 ahead.

That goal prompted bedlam in the stadium among the partisan home supporters.

This was a difficult spell for City and moments later Jansen strode forward but saw his effort go narrowly wide of the post.

Hamburg made it 3-1 after 79 minutes when substitute Jose Guerrero scored at the back post after being left unmarked following a cross from Trochowski.

It was another blow for City after such a bright start, who were hanging on at the end.

This was their 15th match in the competition and their hopes of progressing look slim indeed.

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