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By ESPN Staff

Hughes thrilled by "excellent" Man City win

Mark Hughes hailed Manchester City's ''excellent'' night after their 2-0 UEFA Cup victory at Schalke put them into the knockout stages.

Benjani and Stephen Ireland scored in each half as City cruised to a one-sided win.

After two victories in as many matches, City are now guaranteed a place in the last 32 following Paris St Germain's 2-2 draw with Racing Santander tonight, and Hughes was full of praise for a strong team effort.

''I am very happy,'' he stated ''This week was a great week. We beat Arsenal comprehensively and we came here knowing it was a very difficult game on paper.

''But we coped with the game quite easily. We were always in control and never allowed Schalke any real opportunities.

''We sustained pressure and were always looking strong on the break. I am very, very pleased with the manner of our performance. It was excellent.''

Hughes was especially happy with the performance of his attackers. Daniel Sturridge looked impressive as understudy for the injured Robinho, with Benjani and Darius Vassell also playing well.

''I thought the work of the front three - just as the whole team performance - was outstanding from start to finish,'' he said.

''Benjani, Sturridge and Vassell were excellent tonight. They understood how to change positions and understood that when we were out of possession, we had to regain it quickly.''

Hughes believes the result will help to raise City's profile further around the world.

''It is important that when we are in European competition that we make our mark,'' he said.

''We haven't done that many excursions into Europe in recent times. We've won two games now, six points already on the board.

''We want to continue in the competition and see how far we can go. It is important that Manchester City is in a position to compete in European matches on a regular basis and that is what we aim to do this year.''

The result should give City another confidence boost ahead of the big derby against Manchester United on Sunday.

''Confidence-wise we are in great shape'', Hughes added. ''People looked at the week that we had ahead of us with Arsenal, Schalke and Manchester United, and obviously people felt it might be beyond us. But I know the quality I have in my squad.''

Meanwhile, Schalke boss Fred Rutten praised City's ruthlessness.

''Two mistakes decided the game,'' he said.

''We started out well but we could not come back after the first goal. It put City in a brilliant position as they are very strong on the counter-attack.

''Obviously our disappointment is huge but we will get over it. We will continue to work hard and make up for it.''

Rutten felt the game could have taken a different turn had Jermaine Jones beaten Joe Hart with his shot from inside the area after nine minutes.

''You never know, maybe it would have been a different outcome if he had scored and we had taken the league. Right now we are very disappointed,'' he admitted.


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