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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 3 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Mar 19, 2009

Relief for Hughes as Man City scrape through

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes admitted his side had survived a scare to claim their place in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals in Aalborg on Thursday night.

City progressed 4-3 on penalties after a dramatic capitulation in the last five minutes of normal time at the Energi Nord Arena.

Hughes' men had looked like protecting their 2-0 first-leg lead until the Danes turned the tie on its head with goals in the last five minutes from Luton Shelton and Michael Jakobsen.

Shay Given came to City's rescue by saving in the shoot-out from Thomas Augustinussen and former Sheffield United forward Shelton.

Hughes said: ''For a good hour I felt we were quite comfortable, very much in control, but I did say before the game that whoever scored the first goal would have a real impact.

''We were looking to score first to put the tie to bed but, once Aalborg got a foothold in the game, they put us under pressure.

''In the end, we have been able to come through and we'll take the result on penalties but we should never really have been in that situation.

''You scratch your head and wonder how that situation has developed but, if teams put balls in good areas, on occasion things will drop and go their way.

''At the end of the day, we are through to the next round and that is what we were trying to achieve. We would have preferred a more comfortable passage but we have been able to get where we wanted to get.''

On Given's performance, Hughes added: ''I think knowing Shay was between the sticks for us gave the lads real confidence. I think the lads going up for the penalties had a real belief Shay would play a hand.''

The City keeper told Five: ''It is relief. It should have been dead and buried - we did it the hard way. We could have made it easier for ourselves but thankfully we came out on top.''

As for his own crucial part in City's hard-fought success, Given shrugged: ''Sometimes it is the luck of the draw - happily I saved a couple. We didn't play at our best but we are still in the draw.''

Hughes also revealed Stephen Ireland, City's most industrious player, had suffered an ankle injury and would be assessed ahead of Sunday's game against Sunderland.

Aalborg coach Magnus Pehrsson felt his side were unlucky not to progress.

The Danes initially adopted a cautious approach before raising the tempo in the second half.

The Swede said: ''We put on a very good performance and we deserved to go through.

''It was an even match in Manchester and we were the better team today. Manchester City were strong in the first half but we saw in both games, in the second part of the second half, their lack of energy.

''We knew if we pushed forward and had some luck we would have chances.''

Pehrsson, who as a player had a brief loan spell with Bradford in 1996, believes City could now go on to win the competition.

He said: ''It is a very good team with very good offensive players and they can win against any team. They probably have a good chance.''

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