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Page last updated at 17:05 GMT, Friday, 26 December 2008

Man City 5-1 Hull

By Oliver Brett

Robinho's return energised Manchester City, who were brilliant in the first half

Manchester City looked a rejuvenated side as they destroyed Hull with a scintillating display to move out of the Premier League relegation zone.

Stephen Ireland had a superb match, setting up Felipe Caicedo for the first two goals, and then providing the third for the returning superstar Robinho.

Shaun Wright-Phillips set up Robinho's second to make it 4-0 before the break.

Hull sub Craig Fagan hit a consolation goal before Ireland had the final say, finishing off a move he had started.

Furious Hull boss Phil Brown gave his half-time team talk on the pitch. He spent three minutes with his players, in front of the fans who had travelled from east Yorkshire, wagging his finger at various individuals.

It had little effect on the second half, except for stemming the tide of Manchester City goals in what was generally a subdued period given added gloss by the two late strikes.

Mark Hughes had said in his programme notes that he had already identified players for his club to sign in January. But the current crop provided ample evidence that there is plenty of skill in the existing squad.

Brown gives half-time team talk on pitch

Robinho, fully fit for the first time in five weeks, was an invigorating presence for the whole of the first half, while fellow Brazilian Elano also returned after finding himself out of favour for the dispiriting loss to West Brom.

Meanwhile, Caicedo took the place of the injured Benjani.

Hull, looking to maintain their place in the top six, sprang a surprise by handing veteran striker Dean Windass his first start of the season.

But it was the home side's midfield and attack which did all the damage in a first half that must have provided a terrific tonic for the under-fire Hughes.

The game had barely begun when confusion in the Hull defence allowed Caicedo to set up Robinho, but he shot over.

As play surged breathlessly from one penalty box to the other, Hull then went close as Marlon King cut inside Richard Dunne before firing his shot too close to Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Ireland was involved in most of the home team's attacks, but although he was the provider for Caicedo's opener, most of the set-up work had been done by Robinho.

The 32.5m striker played a wonderful lobbed pass into the path of Ireland, whose cut-back was blasted into the roof of the net by Caicedo.

Robinho continued to cause problems and completely outfoxed Bernard Mendy with a tricky run moments later before forcing Boaz Myhill into a save.

Two goals in as many minutes shattered Hull, who looked lethargic in comparison to the energetic display by the home side.

The hugely impressive Ireland produced an accurate pull-back from the right after pouncing on a loose header from Hull's Ian Ashbee, and the chance was again converted smoothly by Ecuadorian international Caicedo.

Hughes delighted with 'excellent' Man City

When Ireland then won a tackle in the centre circle, dispossessing George Boateng, he unfailingly picked out Robinho, who turned Michael Turner effortlessly on the edge of the area before firing past Myhill.

The fourth goal came from the profitable right flank when Wright-Phillips latched onto a through-ball to set up the red-hot Robinho, and at half time the match was all over as a contest.

The hosts could afford to see Wright-Phillips waste another golden chance just before the interval, and began the second half with Jo and Nedum Onuoha on the field, in place of Caicedo and Micah Richards.

Hull, who had already made one change before the break - Nathan Doyle coming on for Boateng - replaced Windass with Fagan, back for the first time since breaking his leg in September.

We collapsed like a pack of cards - Brown

The visitors looked more composed but it was still the hosts who created the better chances with Wright-Phillips denied by a good tackle from Turner.

Elano beat Myhill with a long-range free-kick which took a huge deflection off Ashbee but the ball clipped the post.

Hull at least managed to salvage some pride with 11 minutes remaining when Fagan scrambled the ball home for a goal which will have given him some personal satisfaction.

But the visitors were still well beaten and Robinho reminded them of that fact when stealing into the area for Ireland to blast home the fifth.

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes:
"When we're on the front foot, the quality of our attacking play is there for all to see.

"But what we haven't been able to do is produce that on a consistent basis.

"We have had occasions in recent weeks where we have disappointed. We have got quality in the side but collective and individual errors haven't allowed us to play with the freedom with have today.

Hull boss Phil Brown:
"Our mentality was just not there, it was wrong. We gifted them a first goal and we then went to gift them a second, a third and a fourth.

"It was unacceptable behaviour, an unacceptable performance from a Phil Brown side and I am bitterly disappointed."

[On his on-field half-time talk]: "I thought it was nice and cold and I thought I would keep the boys alive because they looked as if they were dead.

"Our 4,000 travelling fans deserved some kind of explanation for the first-half performance and it was difficult for me to do that from the confines of a changing room.

"We owed them an apology for the first-half performance."

Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Dunne, Richards (Onuoha 46), Ball, Wright-Phillips, Ireland (Fernandes 85), Kompany, Elano, Robinho, Caicedo (Jo 46).
Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Vassell, Garrido, Sturridge.

Goals: Caicedo 15, 27, Robinho 28, 36, Ireland 82.

Hull: Myhill, Mendy, Zayatte, Turner, McShane, Boateng (Doyle 34), Geovanni (Cousin 70), Ashbee, Marney, Windass (Fagan 46), King.
Subs Not Used: Duke, Barmby, Hughes, Halmosi.

Booked: Geovanni, Zayatte, Fagan, Mendy.

Goals: Fagan 80.

Att: 45,196

Ref: Andre Marriner (W Midlands).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Man City's Stephen Ireland 8.73 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Premier League as it happened
26 Dec 08 |  Premier League
Boxing Day football photos
26 Dec 08 |  Football

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