Aguero hatrick seals victory
UEFA Champions League
Tuesday 25 November 2014, 19.45 KO
City: Hart, Sagna (Zabaleta 68), Kompany (c), Mangala, Clichy, Fernando, Lampard, Milner (Jovetic 66), Nasri, Navas, Aguero (Demichelis 90)
Unused: Caballero, Glendon, Boyata, Pozo
Goals: Aguero (21, 85, 90)
Booked: Clichy, Aguero, Zabaleta
Referee: Pavel Kralovec
Man of the Match: Sergio Aguero
Two late goals from Sergio Aguero gave City an unlikely victory against Bayern Munich, and leaves the Blues with a fighting chance of progressing to the knock out stages of the Champions League. With 85 minutes on the clock, the mood inside The Etihad was subdued with yet another European disappointment looming. Six minutes later, however, the scenes were euphoric as Aguero completed a superb hatrick to seal all three points for City.
Bayern were reduced to ten men after just twenty minutes, when a simple ball over the top from Frank Lampard caught the vistor's defence napping. Mehdi Benatia rashly brought Aguero down in the box, and a penalty and red card were the inevitable outcome. The Argentinian forward composed himself to neatly dispatch the penalty inside Manuel Neuer's left hand post. Lesser teams than Bayern may have capitulated in the circumstances, but the German champions recovered impressively and made light of City's numerical advantage. Pep Guardiola's side began to dominate possession, with Xabi Alonso pullling the strings in midfield.
It was the ex-Real Madrid man who brought the scores level, rolling a free kick into the bottom corner after Eliaquim Mangala clumsily brought down Robert Lewandowski on the edge of the box. Joe Hart was largely unsighted, but will feel he should've done better with Alonso's relatively tame effort. Growing in stature, Bayern then took the lead on the stroke of half time. There was an element of fortune to Lewandowski's goal, with the ball appearing to come off his shoulder before looping over Joe Hart, but it was just reward on the balance of play.
Certain scribes were already sharpening their knives and, whilst City's performance wasn't great, it should be remembered that Bayern are one of the finest team's in the world at retaining possession, even with ten men. It was hardly the "embarrassment" that Henry Winter tweeted. City sorely missed David Silva's invention and Yaya Toure's presence in midfield, but the introduction of Stevan Jovetic after 66 minutes lifted the Blues. Neuer made two smart saves, from Navas and Lampard, before the Montenegrin intercepted a misplaced pass from Alonso and sent Aguero through on goal.
The Argentinian striker still had much to do, but his pace saw him burst clear of the Bayern defence before a precise finish beat Neuer via the inside of the post. City sensed victory, and another error, this time from ex-Blue Jerome Boateng in injury time, gave Aguero the chance to complete his hatrick. The forward was calmness personified and stroked the ball easily past Neuer to seal an improbable victory. On current form, there are few better players in world football and City will need the striker to be at his best in the Olympic Stadium in a fortnight's time. A score draw or victory against Roma should prove sufficient for Manuel Pellegrini's team to qualify for the knock out stages for a second successive season.