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Happy Hughes sings the Blues praises

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Mark Hughes 0809

Mark Hughes believes his back-to-form Blues are homing in on seventh place and a return ticket to Europe after Robinho inspired City to a deserved first Barclays Premier League away win since last August.

Leading scorer Robi hit his 13th League goal of the campaign before his exquisite pass sent in Stephen Ireland for a second at Goodison Park, where Dan Gosling's late reply could not prevent a 2-1 defeat for Everton.

Manager Hughes, delighted with a third successive win, said: "We were excellent today. There was a great focus in our play and some of our attacking was excellent as well. We scored at good times and although we had a bit of a wobble at the end, we won the game comfortably.

"We've had decent performances away from home before but not got the breaks. Today I thought we looked really nice and solid. Going into the game, the lads were very much of a mind that this was an opportunity for us."

FA Cup finalists Everton rested a couple of big-hitters and played the last half-hour with ten men after Phil Jagielka caught his studs in the turf and was stretchered off with all three subs already on the pitch.

It was a huge comedown after their semi-final euphoria against Manchester United. Hughes said: "We know ourselves how hard it is to play big high-profile games, emotional games, and then have to steel yourself for the Premier League.

"Obviously, Everton experienced what we experienced a week and a half ago. You know it can happen so it was important that we emphasised that and put them under pressure then took our chances when we could.

"We're back in the mix up there and it was important that we got back to winning ways away from home. We're all frustrated by the lack of points on our travels. But we've got games at home, where we are very strong, and we've always felt if we can win our home games and get a result on the road, we'll go close.

"We're on track. We've still got difficult games to come but they're certainly winnable, and given the fixtures of the other team around us, we've given ourselves the opportunity to possibly get that seventh spot."

Man of the match Robinho was a joy to watch with the Merseyside sun on his back, and Hughes added: "I thought he was excellent. He's had too much criticism - the focus and expectation that surrounds him is understandable, but some of the criticism of his performances has been way off the mark.

"He made a statement today about where he sees his career, and when you see him perform like that you understand what a good player he is. When you get him in the right areas he can produce for you. We're delighted for him that he's scored again. But it was a team performance, it wasn't about individuals."

Match Report

Everton v City 25 April 2009

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