Manchester City 5 CSKA Moscow 2

UEFA Champions League Group D
Tuesday 5 November 2013, 19.45 KO

City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Nastasic, Clichy, Toure (c), Fernandinho (Milner 45), Silva (Kolarov 66), Nasri (Navas 77), Aguero, Negredo
Unused: Hart, Richards, Lescott, Dzeko
Goals: Aguero (pen 3, 20), Negredo (30, 51, 90+2)
Booked: Toure

Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo
Man of the Match: Sergio Aguero

Nastasic slides in to win the ball.

Nastasic slides in to win the ball.

With Champions League knockout phase qualification on the tip of their fingers, City made very light work of their Russian opposition. The dismantling process took a mere two minutes, as Silva weaved his way beautifully to the by-line and was brought crashing down by Tosic. Aguero stepped up to convert the penalty.

Despite the Blues being in charge of possession, the visitors should have pulled level soon after – a neat move involving Honda and Musa sees the ball by-pass Clichy and fall nicely for Doumbia. His effort, though, was high and wide, when he had an excellent chance to work the goalkeeper.

The understanding between City’s forward players, though, appeared to be going from strength to strength as the first half wore on. Nasri and Silva combined brilliantly on the left to allow the Spaniard the chance to shoot, but his effort could only find the side netting.

And it was the midfield interplay that helped double the hosts’ lead. Nasri, Toure and Silva combined to find Aguero in the box. There, the Argentine flicked the ball through his own legs to turn and set up the chance to shoot – via a slight deflection, he found the bottom corner.

The game was as good as over ten minutes later. Aguero went hunting the ball in the Moscow half and it broke to Negredo. He sent it back wide to his strike partner and raced into the box at the back post. The Argentine striker returned the ball via a low, hard cross to the back post, where the Spaniard tapped it home.

Out of nothing, though, the visitors pulled a goal back in stoppage time. A through ball completely by-passed both Nastasic and Demichelis and sent Doumbia clear on goal. He rounded Pantilimon and slotted it into the open net – it was hugely against the run of play.

Silva takes on a shot.

Silva takes on a shot.

After the break, the Blues were back in their stride. A cheeky chip over the back four from Toure was perfectly weighted for the run of Nasri. He touched it around the goalkeeper – who was dashing out to narrow the angle – and into the path of Negredo, who netted his second of the evening.

Two minutes later, City could have had the fifth. Nasri found space on the right and crossed neatly for Milner in the box – the Englishman had more time than he realised, though, and, in trying to flick it on to Aguero, he nodded it safely into the goalkeeper’s hands.

With 20 minutes left, however, the visitors pulled a second goal back. Doumbia wriggled past Clichy on the City left and into the box. There, the Frenchman pulled the Moscow forward down and the referee pointed to the spot – Doumbia himself stepped up to send Pantilimon the wrong way and reduce the deficit.

Five minutes later, Negredo almost bagged one of the goals of the season. With his back to goal and with two defenders for company, he flicked the ball over his own head and turned to get through on goal; there, he volleyed, but if flashed just over the bar.

Negredo was closing in on his hat-trick, but it seemed to be evading him with just over ten minutes to play. A Kolarov cross deflected off two defenders and fell nicely for the Spaniard, but his shot was well blocked by Akinfeev. The rebound was cleared before Navas could latch on to it.

The third goal came, however, with seconds left on the clock. After a Kolarov shot was punched away by the goalkeeper, City worked the ball out to the left where it was played back into the box and right onto the head of Negredo. He nodded it back across goal and it nestled into the bottom corner with the last touch of the game.

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CSKA Moscow 1 Manchester City 2

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

Toure stretches to a loose ball.

Toure stretches to a loose ball.

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.

Silva beats his man to cross.

Silva beats his man to cross.

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.