Monday 27 October 2008

Robinho Pots hat-trick as super City shine

Brazilian samba superstar Robinho scored his first hat-trick for Manchester City as the Blues swept aside Stoke in an enticing 3-0 victory at Eastlands.

City started the brightest and in the early exchanges a fierce shot by Robinho was pushed away by Stoke goalkeeper Sorensen. But the Brazilian was more clinical on 14 minutes after strong build-up play from Elano and Wright-Phillips, who linked well with Ched Evans. His pass fell to Robinho, who slotted home from 10 yards.

Despite City looking in control, Stoke did press forward and forced Joe Hart into making a couple of superb saves. It did look at one point like the visitors would sneak an equaliser before the break but City defended their lead resiliently.

After half time City came out determined and doubled their lead almost immediately after a great run from Daniel Sturridge, who replaced the injured Ched Evans, resulted in him setting up Robinho with a sublime accurate pass, who scored his second goal past Sorensen with ease.

From then on it was damage limitation as far as Stoke were concerned. City were passing with confidence and it was almost inevitable that Robinho would get his hat-trick. In fact, he had many chances to make his goal tally even higher, forcing Sorensen into making a save from point-blank range after Wright-Phillip cleverly set him up.

The £32.5 million man’s hat-trick was completed on 72 minutes after another assist from Sturridge resulted in Robinho calmly firing home. The remaining minutes were played out, with Stoke having a couple of half chances, and Stephen Ireland missing an absolute sitter in the final minute after Robinho threaded a fine ball through to the youngster. His effort was blasted over the bar with only Sorensen to beat.

The 3-0 victory was more than convincing, but with no disrespect to Stoke, these are the kind of games that City should be winning comfortably if we are to be taken seriously as contenders for European football, and to attract world-class players to join the hat-trick hero at Eastlands. City are so unpredictable at the best of times that, before kick off and no matter who the Blues are playing, you can never accurately predict a safe, sure victory.
Micah Richards once again played superbly in the right back role, providing a dangerous outlet down the right with Wright-Phillips and moving forward well. It was also great to see Daniel Sturridge put in an impressive performance, albeit at the expense of Ched Evans. Sturridge linked up sublimely with Robinho and will give Mark Hughes something to think about with his team selection from the next game, at Middlesbrough midweek.

But Robinho stole the headlines, and the show. He was at the heart of every City attack and Stoke were simply spellbound, offering no answers to the Brazilian magic he was weaving. In a rare post-match interview, Robinho admitted that he would like to reach a 30 goal tally for this season. At this rate, it is more than a realistic target, and with City being the highest scorers in the Premier League so far this season, there should be many more goals to come from Hughes’ samba-rific Blues.

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