Game in a sentence
Manchester City once again fail to win in the Champions League, all but eliminating them from the next stage.
- Things are never dull with Manchester City and a game that started with everyone talking about a Roberto Mancini rant ended in the same manner as the Italian marched on to the pitch to demand answers from a referee who blew the final whistle went many expected him to award a penalty.
- With the game tied in the final seconds a free kick was sent into the box and Mario Balotelli’s arm was being pulled back by Ricardo Van Rhijn but none of the officials decided it was worthy of a penalty. It was the kind of call where you would probably see more officials give it than not, but the attitude of City’s players and manager afterwards was disgraceful and is another example as to why neutrals struggle to like this side.
- Sergio Aguero, who scored just minutes earlier only for it to be wrongly given offside, joined Balotelli in running directly up to the referee with the Argentine manhandling the official. And then he was joined by his manager who walked on to the pitch to voice his anger at the official. No matter how you slice this, injustice or not, there is simply no excuse for that behaviour from Mancini and it is little wonder that many players under his stewardship continue to show petulance. Football is a game full of emotions but players cannot make excuses for manhandling officials and managers have no reason to march onto the pitch and into the face of officials.
- The two major decisions that went their way will lead to extreme frustration for this club but they should not blind what was an average performance from a side that featured 14 players who collectively cost £238.5m.
- City started brightly but after twenty minutes were down 2-0 thanks to some shambolic defending at two separate corners. The first one came on ten minutes, a corner needlessly given away by Matija Nastasic in the first place, that wasn’t dealt with twice by City defenders before Ajax skipper Siem De Jong slotted home.
- The second was even easier for the visitors as De Jong ran to the near post, wasn’t tracked by Yaya Toure or followed by Gareth Barry, and headed home easily. Zonal marking or man marking this time it simply didn’t matter, it was just a matter of men taking responsibilities and attacking the ball in the box. Something City failed to do against Martin Skrtel at Anfield and Laurent Koscielny at home in September.
- The Etihad was silent and Mancini was laughing, stunned in disbelief that they’d conceded in that manner. Twice.
- Five minutes after going two down, Toure, having given Ajax a goal, got one back from his side when he held up the ball superbly and volleyed home.
- The ground woke up at this moment but it was Ajax who remained calm and assured in this phase, passing superbly, creating triangles and exposing City in wide areas, getting in behind full backs who were asked to bring much-needed width to City’s attack.
- Once again this game leaves more questions than answers as to how Man City should play. They started with two holding midfielders in Javi Garcia and Gareth Barry, went to one at half-time and improved and finished with none, making Toure the deepest midfielder. Samir Nasri continues to look at his best once he is able to come centrallywhile Aleksandar Kolarov’s five minute cameo at the end gave a glimpse into what could have been had be started. These decisions, of course, fall on Mancini, a man who at the end felt his team deserved to win the game saying ‘the referee and linesmen were really poor and we played very well in the second half’.
- The fact that the Premier League champions let it get to such a scenario should not be ignored, however. Thankfully, skipper Vincent Kompany, not for the first time, told it like it is: ”We still would have liked to do enough before (that decision) to win the game, we need to learn from this. We let ourselves down on those two phases and those two goals are not good. “
- Two points from four games is also not good and City are now likely out of this competition at this stage once again. Ten games and just three victories, two against a side now playing in the second tier in Spain and one against a side that was already through. City’s managers and players can talk about luck and poor decisions if they want but the fact is they simply have been inadequate in this competition and found out by sides who have treasured the ball better than them.
- Siem De Jong
- Toby Alderweireld
- Sergio Aguero
- Only two clubs have managed to qualify for the next round with a maximum of two points after four matches: Lokomotiv Moskva in 2002/03 and FC Porto in 2004/05.
- City have drawn more matches at home in the CL than they have won: 3 vs 2.
- Man Citycame back from 2 goals behind. Two weeks ago their neighbours Man United did this vs SportingBraga. United won that match 3-2.
- Ajax have scored four of their six CL goals from corners this season. This is more than any other club.
- Both corner goals were put away by Siem de Jong, who scored his first CL brace.
- Yaya Touré scored his fifth CL goal – his fourth for City – and his third in November.