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Spot king Elano gives boss the shivers

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Elano Blumer 0809

Mark Hughes has saluted his City penalty king Elano ... but the Blues manager readily admits that he gets a bit nervous when he watches the Brazilian's laidback approach to taking a spot kick.

Set-piece specialist Elano, signed from Shakhtar Donetsk in August 2007, has a perfect penalty record for City with three last season and four more this winter, including successes in the last two home games against Hamburg and West Brom.

Robinho nipped ahead of his compatriot to take a penalty against Sunderland and missed, simply reinforcing Hughes' view that his 27-year-old attacking midfielder is one of the coolest customers around from 12 yards. City's boss said: "Taking penalties is a confidence thing and when Elano steps up you expect him to score. That's credit to his ability. But you get somewhat nervous when he's just jogging lightly up to the ball.

"I took a few penalties myself and that certainly wasn't my approach, but he's obviously got the technique off to a tee. Being able to step up and take key penalties at key moments in high-profile games is a great asset.

"You can practise the technique - it's something you have to do - but you can never replicate the emotions and conditions that will prevail when you are taking a penalty in the match itself. You need focus and confidence."

Mark's nerves over the Elano approach are clearly linked to his own more sleeves-rolled-up technique as a no-nonsense striker with Wales, Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton.

He recalled: "I didn't take many, and it was usually late in a game. I felt if you were tired you should put as much leather on the ball as you could. There was always the fear that if you sidefooted it when tired, you'd lose a bit of power and give the goalkeeper a better chance."

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