Robinho set up Man City's first but was ineffectual for the most part
By Mandeep Sanghera
Manchester City were emphatically beaten by Hamburg in the first leg of their quarter-final to leave their Uefa Cup hopes hanging by a thread.
Stephen Ireland slotted the visitors ahead after 35 seconds but they were under constant pressure after that.
Joris Mathijsen headed Hamburg level before Piotr Trochowski converted a penalty after Micah Richards' handball.
Jose Paolo Guerrero then fired in from close range at the far post to put the German side firmly in the driving seat.
The home side would have been in an even stronger position had it not been for City keeper Shay Given's heroics as the visitors' defensive frailties away from home were again exposed.
Hamburg boss Martin Jol would have been confident about the chances of his joint Bundesliga leaders ahead of the game, especially as he had won all six of his games against City while in charge of Tottenham.
But he was jolted out of his seat within the first minute as City took the lead.
Ireland played an intuitive long ball into the run of Robinho on the right wing before powerfully running towards the Hamburg area and stroking the return pass from the Brazilian low into the corner of the net.
Hamburg's response was dynamic and immediate. They created chance after chance and Given blocked a David Jarolim shot before being thankful that Mladen Petric's header was directed straight at him.
The pressure on the visitors' goal was relentless and Given somehow managed to save a Michael Gravgaard shot from six yards before City eventually buckled under the strain.
Trochowski swung in a corner to the near post and Mathijsen did the rest as he glanced it past Given, who got a touch but could not keep it out.
Ireland's joy at his opener against Hamburg was shortlived
It was gripping stuff, and Jonathan Pitroipa looped a header against the face of the City crossbar, while Marcell Jansen flicked the ball over Richards before lashing a shot at goal which Given again kept out.
City found the determination and drive of Hamburg - epitomised by the tireless Ivica Olic - hard to contain and there was a vulnerability about the visitors.
Defending has not been City's forte this season, especially at set pieces, and this weakness was again exploited for Hamburg's second.
A corner fell to Mathisen, who tried to hook the ball over his shoulder and towards goal.
Richards was penalised for blocking the attempt with his arms and Trochowski calmly converted the spot-kick to put Hamburg ahead.
City were playing on the counter-attack but lacked the quality and precision to make the most of some rare forays forward.
And it got worse for them when Trochowski set up Guerrero to leave City with a mountain to climb in the second leg at Eastlands.
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