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Hamburg 3 City 1

I wrote in the preview for the game that above all else an away goal would be crucial - and on the evidence of tonight Stephen Ireland's goal after just 30 seconds is our only glimmer of hope heading back to Eastlands for the second leg.

It was such a dream start to go in front so early, but before we could capitalise on this advantage Hamburg were back in the game and in truth it was no more than they deserved, with Shay Given making a number of saves before they got back on level terms.

From that moment on we were well and truly second best as Hamburg looked the brighter, livilier and more purposeful side. Our attacking fulcrum of Robinho, Bellamy and Sturridge - despite their movement - could not maintain possession which made it difficult to bring Ireland and Wright-Phillips into the game enough in key areas.

Counter this with the excellent front line from Hamburg, led superbly by Olic, who had a fantastic evening. Perhaps our long season finally caught up with us in some respects but we were second to the ball, and looked tired and leggy for the most part, chasing the game for the majority.

On the balance of play it wasn't a surprise that Hamburg added a second, and there can be no complaints regarding the award of the penalty, which was dispatched easily past Given. At 2-1 though, this would have left us with a slight advantage I believe but we could not hold out and Hamburg got what could be the vital goal to put daylight between the two sides and ensure the first leg finished 3-1.

Can we recover from tonight? Of course, as although a 2-0 victory sees us through I don't see that we will be able to post a clean sheet this time next week. It could be set up for a great night this time next week, but in the aftermath of tonight's defeat it does seem a long way away.