SCUNTHORPE // If this was to be his final game for Manchester City, Robinho could not have ended it on a happier note. Just six minutes were left when the Brazilian broke into the box and chipped the ball over Joe Murphy to confirm a fifth round meeting with Stoke. He might not be around for that as he nears an expected loan to Santos - if City allow him to leave. The high of his £32.5million (Dh195m) record transfer arrival in August, 2008, seems an age away. Frustration has since followed and he admitted he was going through a "bad period" as he craved first-team football.
"What's important is to be happy. Money is not everything," he told Radio Bandeirantes. "Here, [Roberto] Mancini said that I would play one game and another no. I didn't accept that and told him so. It's a World Cup year. The directors all agree that it's better to send me out on loan. It would be exceptional to return to Santos. Playing for Santos would help me in my path to the World Cup. It is my home, I know everyone."
Santos have confirmed they will hold talks tomorrow to negotiate Robinho's return. Mancini, the City manager, seemed less certain about the Brazilian's departure, saying: "I think Robinho, in the end, he stays here. The situation can change, but at the moment, he stays here. I want him to stay here, but I want him to stay here happy. For me he's a good guy, good player." Robinho, 26 today, not only gave City the goal that may be a parting gift, but also had an assist in the opener.
Just three minutes had gone when he entertained with a series of stepovers before rolling the ball to Martin Petrov, who rounded Garry Thompson and unleashed a powerful shot into the top corner. It looked ominous for the home side. In their five previous encounters they had conceded 26 goals. But past form or history often matters little in this competition. Scunthorpe should have equalised in the 16th minute with two gilt-edged chances.
First, Grant McCann floated over a cross from the left that was met by Cliffe Byrne, but the captain's header from three yards thudded against the bar. More pressure followed and a Rob Jones knockdown found Hayes, but he slid his shot wide. Scunthorpe did deservedly level in the 29th minute. Gary Hooper hooked the ball into the box, where Hayes, offside initially, volleyed past Stuart Taylor. City were much changed from the side that beat Manchester United in midweek, but two returning men combined to put them back in front just before half-time. Stephen Ireland chipped through for Nedum Onuoha to poke the ball home.
City goalkeeper Stuart Taylor, on debut along with the midfielder Adil Ibrahim, showed his quality as he superbly tipped over a 20-yard effort from Sam Togwell. It took a moment of Brazilian magic to give City breathing space in the 57th minute. Not from Robinho, but his countryman Sylvinho, the left-back. From 30 yards, he unleashed an unstoppable strike that arrowed into the net. Still, a defiant Scunthorpe pressed and made it 3-2 in the 69th minute when Byrne stabbed a shot goalwards and it went in off Dedryck Boyata. But it was Robinho, inevitably, who had the last word.