Manchester City 2 Villareal 1
By David Mooney, Wed 19 October 2011 09:50
Champions League Group A
Tuesday 18 October 2011, 19.45 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Lescott, Kolarov, de Jong (Aguero 63), Y Toure, Nasri (Milner 81), Silva, A Johnson (Barry 39), Dzeko
Unused: Pantilimon, Savic, Richards, Clichy
Goals: Marchena (41 og), Aguero (90+3)
Referee: Pavel Kralovec
Man of the Match: Pablo Zabaleta
In a match that City really needed to win in order to give themselves a fighting chance of keeping up with Napoli and Bayern Munich in the group, the home side got off to a very bad start. De Jong gave the ball away on the edge of his own box and Rossi took the ball on to shoot. Hart could only parry the shot and Cani slotted the rebound into the back of the net after just four minutes.
The goal shellshocked City somewhat and they were struggled to create many shooting opportunities in reply. Kolarov had a go from 30 yards, but it was a couple of yards wide of the post, before Yaya Toure laid a neat ball back for Nasri, but the Frenchman skied his effort from 15 yards out.
Kolarov then had another attempt from a long range free kick and Lopez managed to push the ball over the bar, making the save more difficult than it should have been. De Jong then got in on the act, smashing an effort just wide of the post from outside the box, as he picked up the pieces from a half-cleared corner.
But just as it looked like City were going to stumble to the break a goal down, the breakthrough came for the home side. Kolarov picked up the ball on the left flank and he drove a low ball into the box for Dzeko to attack. But, just before he could get a touch, Marchena tried to clear and could only find the back of his own net. City were back on terms and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Dzeko could have made the half time oranges taste better as he went through on a one-on-one with seconds of the first period remaining, but his shot was straight at the goalkeeper and Lopez was able to push the ball to safety.
The Bosnian had the chance to put City in front almost immediately after the break, too, as he found himself unmarked inside the penalty area as the visitors tried a disastrous offside trap. His volley, though, was weak and Lopez was able to make the save, when the home side should really have been ahead.
Ten minutes into the half, Kolarov had the ball in the net via the crossbar, but he had been correctly flagged offside, as the home side continued to struggle to get their game going. In fact, mid-way through the second half, chances were very few and far between, despite City’s control of the ball. Aguero joined the action to try and give that spark, but the home fans were still frustrated.
Aguero then played Dzeko into the box, but his effort was well over the bar as Kolarov was free on the left. As the game moved into stoppage time, Dzeko headed well wide as he was, again, unmarked in the middle, before a diving header from Zabaleta was well saved by Lopez.
But, as it looked like City were going to be frustrated for another evening in the Champions League, the breakthrough came – with just ten seconds left on the clock. Milner played a great reverse ball to Zabaleta, who was just onside, and he played a low ball into the box. Arriving at the back post to tap it into the net was Aguero, giving the home side their first victory in the competition.