Champions League Group A
Wednesday 2 November 2011, 19.45 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Savic, Clichy, de Jong, Y Toure (Aguero 74), Milner, Nasri, Silva (A Johnson 65), Balotelli (Kolarov 82)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Barry, Dzeko
Goals: Y Toure (30, 71), Balotelli (pen 45+2)
Referee: Pedro Proenca
Man of the Match: David Silva
City’s second away Champions League game got off to a very flat start, as both teams tried to feel the other out. Hart was alert to deal comfortably with a long range shot from Perez, before the visitors got their boots on the ball and managed to wrestle control of the game away from the hosts. Silva weaved his way into the box, but wasn’t able to find a shot or pick out a blue shirt, before Nasri had an effort, but it was well off target.
Silva won a free kick on the edge of the box and it seemed to upset the Villarreal players and fans. When the game got back underway, the Spaniard took the kick, but it was straight at the wall, before Yaya Toure neatly gave the visitors the lead. Silva won the ball back and knocked it to the Ivorian on the edge of the box. He turned and used the space well to get a shot in, finding the bottom right corner of the goal.
City found themselves in command of the game and could have doubled their lead just eight minutes later. Silva, who had been behind everything dangerous the visitors had done in the first half, picked up the ball and drove toward the by-line. His low cross was inches behind Balotelli and the striker couldn’t react to connect and the home side were off the hook.
But not for long: With seconds of the half remaining, a nutmeg from Balotelli gave him the chance to break into the box and, with nothing on in the centre, he went down under a challenge from Marchena and the referee pointed to the spot. The Italian picked himself up to coolly send the keeper the wrong way and double the visitors’ lead right on the stroke of half time.
Villarreal came out for the second half and looked to get themselves back into the game. A perfectly timed tackle from Milner in the box, though, denied them a breakaway and Kompany was able to complete the clearance by winning the ball from the resulting corner. Silva expertly got out of trouble as he retained the ball, somehow keeping it with two players tight on his tail. Balotelli tried a turn and shot, but it was deflected over the bar.
Balotelli tried another shot on goal from halfway into the Villarreal half, but it was over the bar. Nasri had an effort soon after, from some neat play from Silva and a powerful run from Zabaleta, but his shot was sliced the wrong side of the post. It was still all City and Joe Hart had been a spectator.
The home side won a free kick on their right flank on 65 minutes and it took a good double-handed punch from Hart to remove the danger, before Johnson’s knock back for Balotelli was too heavy and the visitors won the ball back on the edge of the box. The resulting shot, though, was well wide and Hart wasn’t called upon to make a save.
With 20 minutes to play, City got their third goal on the break. Nasri and Clichy worked well on the left flank to keep the ball and find Balotelli breaking into the Villarreal half. He, in turn, knocked the ball square to Toure, who took a touch to step away from the defence and set up a one-on-one. He made no mistake and slotted the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.
With that goal, the game was over and both side were content to see the remainder of the match out and not over-committing. City slowed their play down and kept possession, ensuring their first clean sheet in the competition and their first away victory, too.