Accomplished performance sees Blues through to knock out stages
UEFA Champions League
Wednesday 10 December 2014, 19.45 KO
City: Hart (c), Zabaleta, Demichelis, Mangala, Clichy, Fernando, Fernandinho, Milner, Nasri (Kolarov 89), Navas (Silva 67), Dzeko (Jovetic 78)
Unused: Caballero, Sagna, Boyata, Lampard
Goals: Nasri (60), Zabaleta (86)
Booked: Dzeko, Nasri
Referee: Milorad Mazic
Man of the Match: Samir Nasri
After the euphoric victory against Bayern Munich, Manchester City's Champions League hopes all came down to this decisive game against AS Roma. The Premier League champions knew they needed at least a score draw, and also a Munich win against CSKA Moscow, in order to complete a great escape.
Due to the suspension of Yaya Toure and the injuries to Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and David Silva, manager Manuel Pellegrini opted for Martin Demichelis and Eliaquim Mangala at the back, with Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy being deployed as the full backs. In midfield, Fernando and Fernandinho were chosen as the central midfield pairing, with Jesus Navas and James Milner asked to provide the width. Samir Nasri was given the creative role in the side, behind the returning Edin Dzeko.
The opening stages of the game were played at an incredibly high tempo, with both sides playing with great intensity. Roma had the first chance of the evening, through the Jose Holebas. The left back found himself through on goal, but fired his shot straight at Joe Hart. City responded by going close themselves, with Edin Dzeko heading a pinpoint Navas cross wide. This was followed up by another good chance for City, with James Milner cutting inside and curling a shot which was well saved by Morgan De Sanctis. Immeditaely Roma counterattacked, and Gervinho nearly gave the hosts the lead. The former Arsenal man saw his rasping drive excellently saved by Joe Hart.
The two sides went in level at half time, and no doubt aware that Munich led against Moscow.
City came out needing to score in the second half, and up stepped Samir Nasri, with the former France international firing home from 25 yards. City had the goal they needed, with the hosts now needing to score twice in order to go through. Roma did respond well, with Manolas forcing Joe Hart into another excellent save. However, with five minutes remaining City added a second. Samir Nasri was again involved, this time finding Pablo Zabaleta who timed his run perfectly before slotting home to confirm City's place in the next round.
This was perhaps City's most accomplished Champions League performance. It not only put to bed the recent myth that City are a one man side, but will also breed confidence amongst the players. Few teams will fancy being paired with the Blues in Monday's second round draw.