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Midtj'land 0-1 Man City (agg 1-1)

Man City win 4-2 on penalties

By Saj Chowdhury

Vedrun Corluka and Joe Hart
Corluka and Hart celebrate City's win with Richards

Manchester City qualified for the first round of the Uefa Cup thanks to Joe Hart's heroics in the penalty shoot-out against Danish side FC Midtjylland.

The goalkeeper made great saves from Jonas Borring and Kolja Afriyie to give City a 4-2 victory on penalties after they went close to being dumped out.

Danny Califf's injury time own goal gave City a lifeline after what was a poor display during the 90 minutes.

Ched Evans went close with a header and Daniel Sturridge's shot hit the bar.

Both Evans and Sturridge came on late during normal time and gave Mark Hughes's men the boost they so desperately needed.

Wales international Evans, 19, played a key role in the last-gasp goal that levelled the tie on aggregate.

Two minutes into stoppage time, Michael Ball, who had been one of City's best players, clipped in a cross from the left, which Evans managed to get his head to, but so did the unfortunate Califf, who sent the ball past keeper Lasse Heinze.

Buoyed by their change in fortunes, City went for the win in extra time and both Evans, with a four-yard header, and Sturridge, with a 20-yard shot that hit the bar, went close to settling the tie before penalties.

But, almost inevitably, the match went to the ultimate of sporting deciders.

606: DEBATE
elanotojoGOAL

It seemed City's luck had run out after Michael Johnson had his kick saved by Heinze with the scores at 2-2.

But Hart came to the rescue with a fantastic dive to the right to palm away Borring's effort. And after Dietmar Hamann fired past Heinze, Hart put the fate of the tie in City's hands when he saved low to his left from Afriyie.

The clinching penalty was left to Vedran Corluka, who rifled past Heinze before being predictably mobbed by his team-mates.

Over the two legs, Midtjylland deserved the win. They had numerous chances to wrap up an aggregate victory on their home patch, with substitute Collins Babajide going close with a header and two efforts from inside the area in the last 15 minutes.

Only in the last five minutes of the match did it seem that City had realised they were about to exit the European competition.

Prior to that, Martin Petrov and Elano, with two low shots, were the only City players who really tested Heinze, in a match that saw Micah Richards recover from concussion to play in central midfield.

Hughes and his team will consider themselves lucky to have progressed as they go looking for the club's first piece of major silverware in 32 years.


Man City boss Mark Hughes:
"It's a bit of a lottery with penalties but we're delighted we've overcome this hurdle.

Hughes added: "You're always relieved. There are no easy games; it's a cliche but in Europe there aren't. Look at the events of last night with Liverpool.

"We showed character. I saw qualities and values that I liked tonight."


FC Midtjylland: Heinze, Afriyie, Califf, Reid, Poulsen, Florescu, Salami, Olsen (Frank Kristensen 88), Borring, Thygesen (Madsen 78), Nworuh (Babantude 66).
Subs Not Used: Raska, Kim Christensen, Ipsa, Flinta.

Booked: Poulsen.

Man City: Hart, Ben-Haim (Hamann 58), Richards, Dunne, Michael Ball, Corluka, Johnson, Ireland, Petrov, Elano (Sturridge 57), Jo (Evans 80).
Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Garrido, Gelson, Caicedo.

Booked: Elano, Richards.

Goals: Califf 90 og.

Agg (1-1) Man City win 4-2 on penalties

Att: 9,552

Ref: Robert Malek (Poland).


see also
Man City 0-1 FC Midtjylland
14 Aug 08 |  Europe
Uefa Cup as it happened
28 Aug 08 |  Europe
Uefa Cup photos
28 Aug 08 |  Football


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