UEFA Champions League Group D
Wednesday 23 October 2013, 17.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Garcia, Nastasic, Kolarov, Navas, Fernandinho, Toure (c), Silva (Nasri 79), Aguero (Clichy 89), Negredo (Dzeko 72)
Unused: Pantilimon, Richards, Lescott, Jovetic
Goals: Aguero (34, 42)
Booked: Negredo, Toure, Zabaleta
Referee: Ovidiu Hategan
Man of the Match: David Silva
On a very testing surface, the game got off to a difficult start. Hart was out quickly to clear from Doumbia before the visitors should really have been in front. From the first corner of the match, Aguero flicked the ball towards the back post where Toure was completely unmarked. With the goalkeeper struggling to get back to cover, the Ivorian missed the ball, misjudging the bounce off the painted surface.
With ten minutes played and with the home side coming into the game a little, City tried to get themselves a foothold in the match and they spurned another good chance to open the scoring. Zabaleta was neatly found by Toure and he lifted it in for an unmarked Aguero, but the Argentine didn’t connect with the volley and it dribbled wide.
Moscow’s first real attempt at a breakaway was well cut out by Nastasic, as Doumbia carried the ball forward. He had an option to his left, but a bad touch allowed the City defender to get a foot in, leaving Navas to complete the clearance.
Despite the pressure from the home side, the visitors fell behind just after the half hour. Tosic capitalised on a flicked header from Honda and was through on goal. Hart came out to close, but could do nothing as the ball was lifted over his head and into the net.
The lead lasted no more than two minutes: Silva picked up the ball on the left flank and centred towards the run of Aguero. The Argentine beat the defender to the ball and it sat very nicely for him to roll it into the corner of the net. In the blink of an eye, the Blues had fallen behind and equalised.
As the game appeared to be settling back into the previous pattern of City possession, the Blues nicked themselves in front. A lovely chipped ball to the middle from inside the corner of the box from Negredo found Aguero. With the goalkeeper diving out at him, the Argentine nodded into the bottom corner.
Two minutes into the second half, City had the ball in the net once more, but it wasn’t to count: Zabaleta flicked for Navas to run clean into the box and the Spaniard blasted the ball into the centre. The goalkeeper got a touch on it and it clipped Negredo’s arm on its way into the net. It was disallowed and the forward harshly booked.
Doumbia found space inside the City box, peeling away between Zabaleta and Garcia, as a ball was weighted nicely for his head – but his effort on goal was well held by Hart. The goalkeeper was then quickly off his line to twice sweep up balls over the top.
The chance for a third goal was once more missed by the visitors, as a low ball in from Kolarov on the left passed by Aguero and found Silva. The Spaniard, though, wasn’t expecting it and it bounced off him into the hands of Akinfeev.
As the 80-minute mark approached, there was a let off for the visitors. A free kick curled in by Honda dropped on the edge of the box and the referee blew to give City a free kick for a high foot challenge on Toure. A split-second after the whistle, the ball was rifled into the net by Doumbia, but it didn’t stand.
A toe poke from Musa could have spelled trouble for City, but it was right at Hart – who did well to hold it as it bounced off the difficult surface – and the Englishman did well in a similar situation from a long range drive by Tosic. That followed Dzeko’s chance to give the visitors a two-goal cushion, but he couldn’t turn Toure’s header past the goalkeeper.
With 20 seconds of the game to play, Hart protected City’s victory. With a man apiece down on the edge of the area, Moscow played on and a cross was flicked to the back post, where Honda was unmarked. His first touch set him up to volley, but Hart was out quickly to block brilliantly and Toure completed the clearance.
Another away match in Europe and another victory for City.