The night started badly, conceding after only 10 minutes, but what followed was one of the bravest and most pulsating performances in European football, in a week full of brave and pulsating performances.
Manchester City’s game against Hamburg was a sensational spectacle for the first minute to the 94th and will rightly go down in history as one of the best City performances of the season. It truly was a great night of European football.
Despite the early goal, Mark Hughes’ side never gave up, playing with a passion and drive that has often been missing in their league outings. Steven Ireland was once more awesome and Elano was causing the Hamburg defence all kinds of problems. He eventually levelled the score with a spot kick, then going on to strike the woodwork twice in the remainder of the game. It wasn’t to be and Micah Richard’s miss with a few minutes to spare sealed their fate.
To be fair as time ticked away it was looking more and more likely that it would end up being ‘one of those games’ were you just can not find the back of the net that are undoubtedly exciting but equally heartbreaking. That crucial goal that was needed to force the tie into extra time remained elusive and Caicedo’s apparent desire to be off-side every time the ball was played forward didn’t help. However he did make up for it somewhat when just after the restart he stepped away from his marker and slotted the ball in to give City the lead.
Shay Given was having problems releasing the ball early however as the forward line continued to struggle to stay onside even in the last few seconds he had to hang onto the ball to wait for his Ecuadorian team mate to step back infuriating the watching fans. They were unfortunate, and Daniel Sturridge didn’t help matters he seemed determined to crash the ball in from 20 yards something which wasted key possession and time.
In the end the fantastic support at the City of Manchester stadium was silenced. They had been in fine voice, creating a carnival atmosphere that really made you believe that anything was possible and that they surely would go through to the Semi Final. Although it wasn’t to be, Hughes’ can still be very proud of his side. They turned in perhaps their best performance of the season proving to the fans and all the watching media how much this meant to them.
Many had said the tie was done and dusted before the ball was even kicked but like Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night they proved they were not going to go down without a fight. Despite going out last night, Man City showed what a credit they are to English football and what a future they have ahead of them.
With the right purchases in the summer, which will undoubtedly come, even if it’s not £100 million for Kaka, City can look forward to many more similar European nights.