Manchester City 1 Bayern Munich 3

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

Bayern1

Aguero battles for the ball.

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.

Bayern2

Muller beats Hart to double Bayern’s lead.

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.

Manchester City 1 West Bromwich Albion 0

FA Premier League
Tuesday 7 May 2013, 19.45 KO

City: Hart, Richards (c), K Toure, Lescott, Kolarov, Milner, Rodwell (Maicon 75), Garcia, Nasri (Barry 73), Tevez (Razak 90), Dzeko
Unused: Pantilimon, Nastasic, Silva, Aguero
Goals: Dzeko (34)
Booked: Kolarov, Nasri

Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the Match: Micah Richards

WBA1It was a frantic start to the game, with both sides pushing to take the early advantage. Richards came back into the starting line up and announced it with a trademark run down the right. Lukaku smashed a shot just wide of the post, with Hart at full stretch, before the England keeper was alert to stop a powerful header from the Belgian.

With 20 minutes played, City came alive and began to take the game to the visitors. Myhill spilt a cross from the left straight to the feet of Rodwell, but the midfielder couldn’t adjust quickly enough and missed the target with his effort. Kolarov was then perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch, as he came close to decapitating Tamas… okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but his foot was high and the Albion man ducked into the header causing a collision. The referee showed leniency and showed a yellow card.

City stepped it up: Tevez curled an effort over the bar from the edge of the box, before Milner smashed an effort wide as it broke to him in the box. Rodwell then missed his kick as Kolarov’s cross bounced to him inside the area and, from the very same move, the ball found Tevez on the edge of the box and he smashed a shot into the crossbar.

And as the hosts had got on top, they went on to take the lead. Tevez broke down the right flank and found a cross to Dzeko arriving in the area. It was just behind the Bosnian, who adjusted to side-foot volley at goal. It beat the defender and Myhill got a touch, but he couldn’t keep it out and the home side made their pressure pay.

As half time approached, Rodwell had a shot deflected wide that left the goalkeeper rooted, before Milner struck the foot of the post from long range, as the home side looked to double their advantage. The half came to a close with City pressure and the blues deserved to be in the lead.

WBA2However, the second half was a different story: It started when Rosenburg smashed a free kick into the crossbar with the goalkeeper nowhere near it and, from the rebound, Hart made a brilliant save to scoop the ball away from the line, as Jones tried to force it into the net. Hart was in action shortly after, tipping Morrison’s low drive around the post, before Kolo Toure blocked from Lukaku, as West Brom countered.

There was some relief for the home defence on the hour mark, as the hosts should have scored their second goal of the night. Dzeko fired in a shot that was blocked, after receiving a low ball into the box. Tevez tried a shot from the rebound, which was again blocked on the line, before it was crossed to Rodwell at the back post, but his volley was pushed behind by Myhill.

With ten minutes to play, Long escaped Lescott’s attention and fired in a shot, but it was inches wide of the post. Maicon then unleashed an effort from the edge of the six-yard box, as he tried to smash an outside-of-the-foot shot towards the top corner. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but the fans saw the funny side as the second tier of the North Stand took the brunt of the shot.

It became end-to-end for the final few minutes, as Odemwingie fired over from just inside the box, before Milner picked out the gloves of Myhill as City looked to secure the points. Barry also had an effort from the edge of the box easily collected by the goalkeeper, following a bursting forward run by Maicon.

City held out, though, and secured Champions League football for the third season running.

Ajax 3 Manchester City 1

UEFA Champions League Group D
Wednesday 24 October 2012, 19.45 KO

City: Hart, Richards, Kompany (c), Lescott (Kolarov 63), Clichy, Barry (Tevez 71), Milner (Balotelli 77), Y Toure, Nasri, Dzeko, Aguero
Unused: Pantilimon, Nastasic, Evans, Sinclair
Goals: Nasri (22)
Booked: Kolarov, Y Toure

Referee: Svein Oddvar Moen
Man of the Match: Micah Richards

The early pressure of the tie came from the home side, with City starting off on the back foot. De Jong tried an effort from range after a neat one-two on the edge of the box, but it wasn’t troubling Joe Hart. Dzeko had the visitors’ first attempt on goal from a long way out and he dragged the shot well wide. Eriksen found space on the edge of the box and tried a blast at the top corner, but it curled away from the far post and behind.

Aguero took the ball from Barry on the edge of the Ajax box and carried it along the line. He had the ball just nicked away from him as he was about to pull the trigger, but it almost rebounded back into his path on the penalty spot. At the other end, a great tackle from Kompany thwarted a breakaway from the home side.

At the 20 minute mark, it was all the home side. Eriksen touched the ball superbly past Barry and found space in the middle of the City half. He shot from range and it had Hart worried, but it just slipped wide of the post. This followed de Jong not being able to grow tall enough to nod a cross at goal.

Two minutes later, the visitors had the lead, somewhat against the run of play. Richards produced a sublime pass into the path of Milner, who broke towards goal. His route was blocked off, but that allowed him to roll the ball into the path of Nasri on the left. The Frenchman shot first time and found the bottom corner.

Just before the half hour, it could have been two for City. Richards did well to steal the ball in midfield and knock it into space. He got on the end of it and, undecided whether to square or shoot, he took his time and, when he did unleash the shot, the goalkeeper was set and palmed it away. The rebound fell kindly for the home side to clear.

Van Rhijn flashed an effort over Hart’s bar from the right corner of the box after he had cut inside Clichy. It was a relief for City to watch it behind, with there being better options for the Dutchman square inside the box. Babel had a shot from long range and it was aimed at the bottom corner, but Hart got down well to hold on to the effort.

City had dropped too deep and minutes before half time, Ajax’s pressure paid off. Van Rhijn pulled a low ball into the box and de Jong, left unmarked to drift to the edge of the area, smashed a shot into the bottom corner. Hart had no chance and could only watch it hit the back of the net.

From kick off in the second half, City could have been back in front: Aguero was found in the area by Nasri and tried to poke it past the goalkeeper, but it was blocked. The ball found its way back to him and he tried to chip it back to Dzeko, who would have faced an open goal had the ball made it, but the cross was cut out.

Despite City’s early pressure in the second period, ten minutes after the break, the visitors were behind. It was a simple goal for the home side, Moisander was completely unmarked from a corner, finding space between Yaya Toure and Lescott. His flicked header from the cross was on target at the back post and flew past Hart, who was, once again, helpless.

With just under 20 minutes to play, City’s Champions League hopes were hanging by a thread. Barry slipped under pressure in the middle of midfield and the ball broke to Eriksen on the edge of the box. He took on Kompany, beating him too easily, and fired a shot towards the far corner. Clichy stuck out a foot and redirected the shot past Joe Hart who, once again, could do nothing about the goal.

A minute later and it could have been four for the home side. Sana beat Clichy with a quick one-two to set up a one-on-one with Hart. The England international was off his line quickly to block and keep the score at 3-1. Immediately, Dzeko could have pulled a goal back as he was played in over the top, but Vermeer saved. Dzeko then found himself one-on-one and tried to go around the goalkeeper, but he recovered well to save.

Yaya Toure pulled out a brilliant ball to Nasri in the area and the Frenchman should have had a penalty for a pull-back as he tried to shoot. The effort went well wide, thanks, in no small part, to the tug. Aguero tried a shot on the edge of the box, as Balotelli lost possession and the ball broke to the Argentine, but it flashed over the bar. City were out of luck and seemingly out of the Champions League.

West Bromwich Albion 1 Manchester City 2

FA Premier League
Saturday 20 October 2012, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Richards, Kompany (c), Lescott, Clichy, Milner, Barry (Dzeko 78), Nasri, Y Toure, Balotelli (Aguero 63), Tevez (Kolarov 82)
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, K Toure, Sinclair
Goals: Dzeko (80, 90+2)
Booked: Balotelli, Tevez, Y Toure, Dzeko
Sent Off: Milner

Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Man of the Match: Micah Richards

The opening exchanges started scrappily, but soon picked up pace. Lescott deflected an early Albion shot behind, but the referee awarded a goal kick, before Balotelli was tripped outside the area. Nasri’s effort on goal was deflected behind, as the visitors began to get control of possession. Some neat build-up down the right flank almost presented a shooting chance, but neither Tevez nor Toure could find the angle.

City were cranking up the pressure: Balotelli tried a solo run and shot, but Foster was able to collect it comfortably, before Milner nearly picked out Yaya Toure in the box with a cross from deep. Richards headed at goal from the resulting corner and, with it looking like it may just drop over the bar, Foster tipped it out to be sure. Tevez tried a volley from the penalty spot, after Balotelli picked him out from the left wing.

But with 22 minutes played, City put themselves in trouble. Kompany gave the ball away inside the West Brom half and let the home side break away. Milner was covering, but didn’t have the pace to keep up with Long and he dived in to win the ball. He missed it, denied the West Brom man a goal-scoring opportunity and was sent off. The free-kick hit the wall and City cleared the danger, but had to play the majority of the game a man light.

City struggled to settle following the red card: Hart was needed to come off his line as Long was through on goal, but the England keeper got a vital block and City were able to clear. The hosts were suddenly seeing more of the ball, sensing a way into the lead. Tevez broke into the Albion half and was bearing down on goal when he was brought down on the edge of the box: Balotelli hit the wall and, from the move off the rebound, Nasri could only find Foster’s gloves.

A superb run from Balotelli almost got the visitors in front. He picked up the ball on the left flank and beat three men on his way to the box. There, he worked his way into the six-yard box and shot, but Foster was equal to it, deflecting the ball away. He should have scored. Yaya Toure then had a shot deflected over the bar, before Barry chipped towards the back post, but it dropped wide.

City could have been in front in the opening minutes of the second half: Balotelli held the ball up well on the edge of the box before finding Tevez. The Argentine took a touch to control, before aiming for the top corner. It was heading in, until Foster got across to push the ball around the post. Clichy was then on the receiving end of a Balotelli ball across the box, but the Frenchman’s effort was blocked in front of goal.

A free kick on the left flank should then have had City in front just before the hour mark. Richards was left unmarked at the back post and he nodded the ball back across goal. The first effort on the cut-back was scuffed and Toure had the chance to head at goal from three yards, but he, somehow, headed over.

Fortune was booked for deliberate handball on the line of the penalty area, as he jumped and punched it away – City wanted a penalty, but the referee controversially ruled it was outside. Balotelli whipped the free kick over the bar. A flowing City move then nearly slotted Richards in, but he squared for Aguero, whose effort was deflected wide.

But, despite City’s resurgence in the game, Albion took the lead with a stroke of luck. Odemwingie had a shot from range that wasn’t troubling Joe Hart. But the fortune fell to Long, who had gambled in behind Lescott and, from an onside position, touched the ball into the bottom corner. It was against the run of play, but City were up against it.

Minutes after coming on as a substitute, Dzeko got the visitors level. Clichy was fouled on the left flank and, from deep, the cross was whipped into the middle of the box. Foster came for it, but Dzeko beat him to it and the ball hit the back of the empty net. It was a deserved equaliser for the away side.

City were pressing for a winner: Dzeko and Aguero combined well to allow the Argentine to get to the by-line, before Richards had a header cleared off the line from a corner. On the break, West Brom could have taken the lead through Lukaku, as he was free at the back post, but his shot was scuffed and Lescott cleared. Lukaku then headed straight at Joe Hart, unmarked in the area.

In stoppage time, Lukaku set himself up for an overhead kick inside the box and it needed a brilliant Hart save to tip it over the bar. From the corner, City broke away through Aguero. He bombed down the right flank from a Kolarov pass. He squared for Dzeko, who slid the ball into the bottom corner.

With seconds of the game remaining, Lukaku broke into the box and a spell of pinball followed. He couldn’t find room for the shot and it broke to Mulumbu, who was superbly dispossessed by Lescott and the visitors scrambled the ball away to preserve the last-gasp victory.

Manchester City 0 Liverpool 1

League Cup Semi Final First Leg
Wednesday 11 January 2012, 19.45 KO

City: Hart, Richards (c), Savic, Lescott, Clichy, de Jong (Kolarov 72), Barry, Milner, A Johnson (Dzeko 66), Balotelli (Nasri 39), Aguero
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Onuoha, Hargreaves
Goals:
Booked: Nasri

Referee: Lee Mason
Man of the Match: Micah Richards

There were similarities with how this League Cup tie started and how the Premier League fixture began last week, in that it was the visitors who were the quicker out of the blocks. It needed Hart to pull off a good save from a one-on-one with Andy Carroll, as the striker turned Savic and closed in on goal. The City keeper then needed to push Gerrard’s effort from the edge of the box away for a corner, before he got down brilliantly to react to a deflection from a shot just inside the box.

With just over ten minutes played, though, a corner for the visitors earned them a penalty. The header was missed in front of Agger and he took a touch on his chest, before being brought down by Savic. There were no questions and the referee pointed to the spot; Gerrard dispatched the kick into the bottom left corner, with Hart unlucky not to get a hand on it.

After the goal, Liverpool seemed content to let City have the ball, especially as the hosts were struggling to create anything of note. Richards had a blast from a long way out blocked, with very little on around him, before the injured Balotelli was replaced by Nasri in an attempt to boost the home side’s creativity. He did, immediately getting City’s first shot on target from the edge of the box, though it was easy for Reina.

On the stroke of half time, City should have been level: Richards did well to power past Johnson and get into the box. He pulled the ball back for Milner, arriving on the penalty spot, but the midfielder got his shot all wrong and skied it well wide and well over the bar. It was looking bleak for City, who were clearly missing the spine of the team.

The second half got into a pattern pretty quickly: City struggling to keep the ball and break down the Liverpool defence and Liverpool happy to hold on to their advantage under no real threat from the hosts. Aguero intercepted Kelly’s short backpass, but Reina did enough to close the striker down, who wasn’t able to find the target. Richards then powered a header from a corner at the Liverpool keeper, and City couldn’t force it over the line.

With the clock running down, City introduced Kolarov and Dzeko to try and muster something else at the right end of the pitch, but in the final half hour Reina was barely tested. Crosses were going behind or bouncing through the box and shooting opportunities were few and far between. City needed something and it didn’t come.

To round of the home side’s frustrations, a two-footed tackle from Glenn Johnson on Lescott – arguably worse than Kompany’s on Nani at the weekend – went totally unpunished. It didn’t merit a red card, but having seen the City skipper sent off for a lesser offence and then having seen the appeal dismissed, it left a bitter taste in the mouths of the blues in the stands.

City have it all to do at Anfield.

Manchester City 3 Newcastle 1

English Premier League
Saturday 19 November 2011, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Richards, Kompany (c), Lescott, Clichy, de Jong, Y Toure (Barry 85), Milner, Nasri, Aguero (A Johnson 77), Balotelli (Silva 69)
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, K Toure, Dzeko
Goals: Balotelli (pen 41), Richards (43), Aguero (pen 72)
Booked:

Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the Match: James Milner

Newcastle started the game brightly by pressing the home side in possession of the ball. Neither side were quick out of the traps to create chances, but it was City who looked the more dangerous, as Nasri couldn’t find a shot in the area and Balotelli couldn’t turn Richards’s low cross into the net from inside the six yard box.

Aguero chanced his arm from outside the box with a neat turn and shot, but it was just over the bar with Krul flapping at thin air. Balotelli then forced a good save from the visiting keeper, as he headed towards goal – either side of the Newcastle shot-stopper and it would have been the opening goal.

Hart was called into action mid-way through the first half as the visitors had their first meaningful spell of possession. A neat one-two on the edge of the box by-passed Kompany and Lescott, leaving Ba with the chance to shoot, but he couldn’t find the corner of the net and the England international was able to get the ball around his post.

And just as the game appeared to be trundling to half time goalless, a moment of City pressure earned the home side a penalty, after Yaya Toure’s shot at goal was blocked by the arm of Taylor. Balotelli stepped up and he wasn’t put off by Krul, sliding the ball into the bottom right corner.

Two minutes later, City had doubled their lead. A ball into the box looked to have bounced to the Newcastle defence, but Micah Richards pressed Ryan Taylor, who didn’t have as much time as he thought. The City full back blocked his clearance and volleyed the ball into the net with his left foot and the hosts were two up at the break.

With the hour mark approaching, a good exchange between Nasri and Aguero almost put Balotelli in, but the chance was cleared from a yard in front of the line as Taylor got back to recover well, before an uncharacteristic miss-control from Kompany gifted the ball to Ben Arfa on the edge of the box. He beat two men and fired at Hart’s goal, but saw his effort bounce back off the post and Clichy was there to clear.

Aguero put the ball in the net again, but he’d been flagged for offside when through on goal – though, had he let Yaya Toure pick up the ball and carry it at goal, the flag would have stayed down. On the breakaway, Hart was down quickly to push away a Ryan Taylor effort with Clichy again across to clear. Silva then sent Richards through on goal and he was tripped, resulting in the hosts’ second spot kick of the day – with Balotelli substituted, Aguero found the back of the net.

Nasri was frustrated to be given offside twice in as many minutes as he looked to add to City’s tally, before, with two minutes of normal time remaining, the visitors pulled a goal back. Hart was out quickly to block an effort from Ameobi, but the rebound deflected to Gosling and, faced with an open goal from four yards out, he was never going to miss. That goal, though, came too late to change where the points were heading and City were left the only unbeaten team in the Premier League.

Manchester City 1 Reading 0

FA Cup Quarter Final
Sunday 13 March 2011, 16:45 KO

City: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, de Jong (Barry 84), Vieira (Balotelli 70), Y Touré, Wright-Phillips (Boyata 90), Silva, Tevez (c)
Unused: Taylor, Razak, Jo, Dzeko
Goals: Richards (74)
Booked: Kompany, Richards

Referee: Lee Probert
Man of the Match: Nigel de Jong

With the FA Cup draw having already been made before kick-off, City knew that a victory over Reading would set up a mouth-watering Manchester derby at Wembley. And it didn’t look like City wanted that place in the semi-final, as the game got off to a slow start, with neither team taking the initiative.

In the opening ten minutes, Wright-Phillips was flagged just offside from a Silva through ball, a Kolarov corner was too deep for Vieira to nod back and Lescott had to be alert to get in a timely clearance as the visitors tried to break.

Wright-Phillips was then denied by a great save as he broke into the area and, from the rebound, Silva was denied by an even better save, as he attempted to slot it into the net while the goalkeeper was still on the ground. Unfortunately for the home side, though, it fell to the Spaniard’s right foot and he couldn’t get the power in his finish.

Kompany picked up a yellow card for a late challenge, before Wright-Phillips again went close from the right side of the box, firing the ball into the side netting as Alex covered his post. Kolarov then put a City free kick over the bar, as the home side tried to create that crucial chance.

Just before the half hour, Yaya Touré should have scored when he found himself one-on-one with Alex, but he drilled his shot straight at the goalkeeper and the ball bounced out for a throw-in. Silva then miss-kicked a golden opportunity at the back post, before a move involving him and Wright-Phillips ended with a shot straight at Alex.

The second half arrived and City tried to continue where they left off – but hoping to turn that pressure into goals. Kolarov caused panic in the Reading box with a wicked corner delivery and Tabb was needed to clear it off the line, before Kompany sliced the ball behind for a Reading corner, though the hosts cleared comfortably.

Tevez was then unlucky not to find the net with a cute flick after some good work by Silva to wriggle free in the box, before Wright-Phillips won the ball on the edge of the box and crossed for Tevez, but the Argentinean’s shot was miss-kicked and didn’t make the goal. Goal number 51 just won’t go in for him at the moment.

With 66 minutes played, Richards headed down into the ground and it was looping into the back post until a touch from Alex put it behind for a City corner. It was a sign of things to come, though, and six minutes later, the right back connected to a Silva corner and powered the ball into the back of the net.

That prompted a spell of pressure from the visitors. They weren’t, however, able to create a clear cut chance – the best coming from Shane Long as he got the better of Lescott, but couldn’t beat Joe Hart, who was able to hold onto the forward’s shot. After four minutes of added time and added pressure, City held on for their first trip to the new Wembley and the first FA Cup semi final since 1981.

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