(2-2 on aggregate City win 4-3 on penalties after e-t)
UEFA Cup Round of 16 2nd Leg
19th March 2009
Scorers Shelton(85), Jakobsen(90 pen)
City Evans, Elano, Wright-Phillips, Dunne
Aalborg Jakobsen, Johansson, Nornvethe
Ref Stephane Lannoy
City Given, Richards, Onouha, Dunne, Bridge, Kompany, Zabaleta; Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Robinho, Evans – subs Caicedo(96), Elano,(107), Garrido(54), Fernandes(unused), Etuhu(unused), Berti(unused)
Aalborg Zaza, Jakobsen, Beauchamp, Due, Johansson, Augustinussen, Shelton, Bogelund, Caca, Risgard, Nielsen – subs Tracy(77), Kristensen(106), Nomvethe,(46), Dalsgaard(unused), Sorensen(unused), Schwartz(unused)
WHAT THE PRESS SAID
Another night of high drama in Denmark and another nerve-wracking win on penalties for Manchester City and their suffering supporters.
At the beginning of this UEFA Cup adventure against Midtjylland back in August, Mark Hughes’ side were fortunate to avoid an embarrassing exit when they benefited from a late own goal before going through in a shoot-out.
Joe Hart came to the rescue on that occasion but, here in the Energi Nord Arena, Shay Given emerged as the saviour to put City’s name into Friday’s quarter-final draw after they somehow contrived to give up a two-goal advantage from the first leg and a position of almost total comfort.
Then again, nothing is ever comfortable with City. On a night when £32.5million signing Robinho again struggled away from home, missing his side’s best chance and being substituted in extra time, they put their 650 travelling fans through hell before Aalborg joined Midtjylland and FC Copenhagen on their list of Danish conquests.
Having conceded two goals in the last five minutes, Given produced one-handed saves down to his right from Luton Shelton and Thomas Augustinussen in the shootout to leave Hughes a relieved man.
The City boss paid tribute to £7.5m January signing Given, saying: ‘Knowing Shay was between the sticks gave us more confidence. The lads had belief he could have a hand and save a penalty at some point.
‘We don’t do things easily. We were in control for the first hour but once they got a foothold in the game we were under a lot of pressure.’
This was the striker who scored Sheffield United’s farcical FA Cup goal last season when a bunch of a blue City balloons with the slogan ‘It’s Just Like Watching Brazil’ blew into the goalmouth at Bramall Lane, confusing defender Michael Ball into a miskick to give the Jamaica striker a simple chance.
It was incompetence rather than arrogance that almost burst their bubble on Thursday night. Shelton had already given City one scare, racing through in the 82nd minute to force Given into his first real save of the game, a reflex stop at the near post.
But there was no stopping him three minutes later when substitute Siyabonga Nomvethe knocked the ball down 10 yards from goal and Shelton was first to pounce and drive it home.
City were rocking and, when Michael Jakobsen’s header flew past Micah Richards two minutes from time, it caught the arm of Ched Evans behind his team-mate. Having rejected two earlier appeals, French referee Stephane Lannoy pointed to the spot and Jakobsen gave Given no chance with the most emphatic of finishes
Suddenly Hughes’ decision to come here intent on protecting the first-leg advantage seemed a poor one.
Signs of drama began to emerge only when City substitute Javier Garrido appeared to bring down Andreas Johansson on the hour. No penalty was given, and the referee booked Kasper Risgard for his protests. Michael Beauchamp also went in the book soon after for a blatant dive in the box.
Robinho had the best chance to put the tie beyond Aalborg eight minutes from time when he sidefooted a first-time shot against the bar from Stephen Ireland’s pull-back. It hardly seemed to matter at the time, but moments later it all began to go wrong.
City survived, thanks to Given, and they are still on course to end their adventure in Istanbul’s Sukru Saracoglu Stadium on May 20. But they could surely not have made it any harder for themselves.
CHRIS WHEELER WRITING FOR THE DAILY MAIL 20TH MARCH 2009