Celtic 3 Manchester City 3 - Blues come from behind three times to draw thrilling contest

By Ric Turner, Thu 29 September 2016 11:13

Celtic 3 Manchester City 3 - Blues come from behind three times to draw thrilling contestScottish champions end Guardiola's winning run

UEFA Champions League, Group Stage
Wednesday 28 September 2016, 19.45 KO

City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Otamendi, Kolarov, Clichy (Stones 73), Fernandinho, Gundogan, Silva, Sterling, Nolito (Fernando 76), Aguero
Unused: Caballero, Sagna, Navas, Sane, Iheanacho
Goals: Fernandinho (12), Sterling (28), Nolito (55)

Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (ITA)

Man of the match: Sterling

City came from behind three times against a spirited Celtic side to draw a pulsating tie 3-3 on a wet evening at Celtic Park. It brought to an end City's ten match winning streak, and meant Pep Guardiola's side missed the opportunity to equal the English record of eleven successive victories, set by Tottenham Hotspur in 1960.

Guardiola made three changes from the side that had beaten Swansea at the weekend, with Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta and Nolito coming in for John Stones, Bacary Sagna and the injured Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian playmaker's absence was particularly keenly felt, as this was the type of open game on which he thrives, although Raheem Sterling stepped up admirably in difficult conditions.

Celtic took the lead after just three minutes, when Moussa Dembele bundled home from close range. Television replays suggested that the goal was offside, but Dembele was a menacing presence throughout the first half and deserved his good fortune. City were level within ten minutes, when Aleksandar Kolarov's shot fell kindly for Fernandinho just inside the box and the Brazilian midfielder finished past Craig Gordon in the Celtic goal.

It was an absorbing, end-to-end contest and the home side, roared on by a passionate crowd, regained the lead after twenty minutes when Kieran Tierney's cross was deflected past his own keeper by Raheem Sterling. It was unfortunate for the England winger, who was otherwise outstanding in a man-of-the-match performance. Sterling made amends shortly after, when he latched on to David Silva's perfectly weighted through ball and tuned a defender before slotting past Gordon.

It seemed improbable that both teams would be able to retain this level of intensity into the second half, yet just one minute after the break the hosts were back in front. Some calamitous defending from Kolarov saw the ball fall for Dembele, whose spectacular volley left Claudio Bravo wrong footed. City hadn't gone behind in a game all season prior to the game, but now found themselves trailing for the third time in little over 45 minutes. Guardiola's side showed great character to get something out of the game, when Nolito finished off a superb move between Silva and Sergio Aguero in the 55th minute to level the tie again.

As Celtic began to tire, the Blues looked the stronger side in the last half hour but spurned a number of good chances to win the game. The best fell to Ilkay Gundogan in the final minutes, but he saw his deflected shot well saved by Gordon. It would've been harsh on the home side, who deserved a point for their part in a thrilling contest, and Guardiola remained upbeat after the game.

"Maybe this is a good lesson for our future on the importance of starting well. They scored three goals but didn't have many chances. We created enough to win the game. When the fourth team in the pot is Celtic you realise immediately how tough it is to qualify for the next round", said Guardiola.

"Against Barça it will be tough but now we analyse what we did, of course we are now second, we are going to recover well and we have time to think about Barça."