UEFA Champions League Group D
Wednesday 2 October 2013, 19.45 KO
City: Hart, Richards, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy, Toure, Fernandinho, Navas, Nasri (Milner 70), Aguero (Silva 70), Dzeko (Negredo 57)
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Lescott, Garcia
Goals: Negredo (79)
Booked: Aguero, Nasri, Milner
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers
Man of the Match: Micah Richards
It was always going to be a difficult task for City to take on the reigning European champions, but a poor showing didn’t help in addition to a dominating performance from the visitors. The warning signs were there: Robben nodded over inside the opening four minutes with a free header in the box.
But it wasn’t a warning City took notice of and, less than three minutes later, the ball was in the net – though it probably shouldn’t have been. Ribery found space on the left flank and cut inside to fire a shot towards goal. Hart got a hand on it, but couldn’t keep it out and it went in at his near post. It was a goalkeeping error.
That City didn’t face many more shots in the half is something of a minor miracle – the hosts could barely get a kick of the ball, as the visitors overpowered them by far in the midfield. Hart was forced to play it long and it was coming straight back at the Blues’ defence. It was a stark lesson by one of the best sides to have visited the Etihad.
The hosts started brightly in the second half, however. A series of corners offered the fans a brief spell of hope, as Richards and Dzeko both came close to getting a vital touch towards the Bayern goal. Kompany was unlucky not to have been given a penalty, as he was dragged down by Boateng.
But the hope quickly evaporated. On 55 minutes, a brilliant cross-field ball picked out Muller coming in from the right flank. Clichy seemed to simply stop and allow him to run, and it left the striker the chance to round Hart and slide his shot into the empty net.
If there was to be a way back for City it would have had to have come soon – but all that followed was a third goal for the German side to kill off the game, before the hour was up. Fernandinho was dispossessed in midfield and the visitors broke down on goal. Robben took the shot on and, once again, Hart was beaten at his near post – and he probably should have done better.
There was some sense of recovery from Hart – who was clearly annoyed with himself for the goals – as he got down well to block from Kroos as the Bayern man was through on goal. The rebound could only be blazed over by Robben on the volley and City were hanging on – it could have gotten embarrassing such was the difference in the teams.
The introduction of Milner and Silva arrived on the 70 minute mark, but it was too late for the Blues to add any steel to the midfield. It did see the home side regain control of possession for longer spells and they did become threatening, but a snapshot from Milner from the left was as close as City came, with Neuer touching it over the bar.
However, with just over ten minutes to play, the unlikely happened and City grabbed a consolation goal. Silva nicked the ball back inside the Bayern half and found Negredo inside the box. He turned and smashed a lovely shot into the net via Neuer’s right hand post, but it was to be too little too late for the home side.
There could have been an exciting finish, but for a matter of inches, as Silva came close to adding a second for the Blues from a free kick. Boateng had brought Toure crashing down – as the Ivorian was through on goal – and sent off on his return to the Etihad. His curling effort left Neuer standing, but it came back off the crossbar.
Negredo almost reduced the deficit further deep into stoppage time, as Milner dug deep to cross to the centre from the left flank. The Spaniard rose higher than the Bayern defence, but his header dropped just wide of the far post.
If anything, though, the scoreline flattered City – it could have been many more than three from one of the best sides the Blues will ever have faced.