Ireland strikes again for City slickers

MARK HUGHES hailed Manchester City’s “excellent” night after their 2-0 UEFA Cup victory at Schalke put them into the knockout stages.

Benjani and Stephen Ireland scored a goal in each half as City cruised to a one-sided win last night.

After two victories in as many matches, City are now guaranteed a place in the last 32 following Paris St Germain’s 2-2 draw with Racing Santander, and Hughes was full of praise for a strong team effort.

“I am very happy,” he stated “This week was a great week. We beat Arsenal comprehensively and we came here knowing it was a very difficult game on paper.

“But we coped with the game quite easily. We were in control and never allowed Schalke any real opportunities.”

Hughes was especially happy with the performance of his attackers. Daniel Sturridge looked impressive as understudy for the injured Robinho, with Benjani and Darius Vassell also playing well.

“I thought the work of the front three — just as the whole team performance — was outstanding from start to finish,” he said.

“Benjani, Sturridge and Vassell were excellent tonight.’’

Hughes believes the result will help to raise City’s profile further around the world.

“It is important that when we are in European competition that we make our mark,” he said.

“We haven’t done that many excursions into Europe in recent times. We’ve won two games now, six points already on the board.

“It would be very surprising if we don’t go through to the next stage and that was always the goal this year.”

Meanwhile, Schalke boss Fred Rutten praised City’s ruthlessness.

“Two mistakes decided the game,” he said. “We started out well but we could not come back after the first goal. It put City in a brilliant position as they are very strong on the counter-attack.

“Our disappointment is huge but we will get over it. We will continue to work hard and make up for it.”

SCHALKE 04: Neuer, Westermann, Rakitic (Asamoah 63), Bordon (Howedes 73), Pander, Engelaar, Jones Rafinha, Farfan, Altintop (Sanchez 80), Kuranyi.

MAN CITY: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Dunne, Garrido (Ball 46), Wright-Phillips, Hamann, Ireland, Vassell, Benjani (Jo 84), Sturridge.

Referee: Alexandru Dan Tudor.

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