Negredo and Aguero shine in comfortable victory
UEFA Champions League Group D
Tuesday 5 November 2013, 19.45 KO
City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Nastasic, Clichy, Toure (c), Fernandinho (Milner 45), Silva (Kolarov 66), Nasri (Navas 77), Aguero, Negredo
Unused: Hart, Richards, Lescott, Dzeko
Goals: Aguero (pen 3, 20), Negredo (30, 51, 90+2)
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo
Man of the Match: Sergio Aguero
With Champions League knockout phase qualification on the tip of their fingers, City made very light work of their Russian opposition. The dismantling process took a mere two minutes, as Silva weaved his way beautifully to the by-line and was brought crashing down by Tosic. Aguero stepped up to convert the penalty.
Despite the Blues being in charge of possession, the visitors should have pulled level soon after – a neat move involving Honda and Musa sees the ball by-pass Clichy and fall nicely for Doumbia. His effort, though, was high and wide, when he had an excellent chance to work the goalkeeper.
The understanding between City’s forward players, though, appeared to be going from strength to strength as the first half wore on. Nasri and Silva combined brilliantly on the left to allow the Spaniard the chance to shoot, but his effort could only find the side netting.
And it was the midfield interplay that helped double the hosts’ lead. Nasri, Toure and Silva combined to find Aguero in the box. There, the Argentine flicked the ball through his own legs to turn and set up the chance to shoot – via a slight deflection, he found the bottom corner.
The game was as good as over ten minutes later. Aguero went hunting the ball in the Moscow half and it broke to Negredo. He sent it back wide to his strike partner and raced into the box at the back post. The Argentine striker returned the ball via a low, hard cross to the back post, where the Spaniard tapped it home.
Out of nothing, though, the visitors pulled a goal back in stoppage time. A through ball completely by-passed both Nastasic and Demichelis and sent Doumbia clear on goal. He rounded Pantilimon and slotted it into the open net – it was hugely against the run of play.
After the break, the Blues were back in their stride. A cheeky chip over the back four from Toure was perfectly weighted for the run of Nasri. He touched it around the goalkeeper – who was dashing out to narrow the angle – and into the path of Negredo, who netted his second of the evening.
Two minutes later, City could have had the fifth. Nasri found space on the right and crossed neatly for Milner in the box – the Englishman had more time than he realised, though, and, in trying to flick it on to Aguero, he nodded it safely into the goalkeeper’s hands.
With 20 minutes left, however, the visitors pulled a second goal back. Doumbia wriggled past Clichy on the City left and into the box. There, the Frenchman pulled the Moscow forward down and the referee pointed to the spot – Doumbia himself stepped up to send Pantilimon the wrong way and reduce the deficit.
Five minutes later, Negredo almost bagged one of the goals of the season. With his back to goal and with two defenders for company, he flicked the ball over his own head and turned to get through on goal; there, he volleyed, but if flashed just over the bar.
Negredo was closing in on his hat-trick, but it seemed to be evading him with just over ten minutes to play. A Kolarov cross deflected off two defenders and fell nicely for the Spaniard, but his shot was well blocked by Akinfeev. The rebound was cleared before Navas could latch on to it.
The third goal came, however, with seconds left on the clock. After a Kolarov shot was punched away by the goalkeeper, City worked the ball out to the left where it was played back into the box and right onto the head of Negredo. He nodded it back across goal and it nestled into the bottom corner with the last touch of the game.