Champions League: Manchester City through to quarter-finals but face injury crisis in defence
Manchester City reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history with a 3-1 aggregate win over Dynamo Kyiv. A 0-0 draw at the Etihad on Tuesday night after a 3-1 win in the first leg in Kiev saw the Sky Blues go through comfortably to become the first English side to reach the next round this season.
Manuel Pellegrini took no chances and named a strong starting lineup in spite of the healthy two-goal cushion and the three away goals. But he did rest Raheem Sterling with Jesus Navas preferred in the starting lineup, probably with an eye on the Manchester derby this weekend.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Otamendi, Clichy, Fernando, Fernandinho, Toure, Navas, Silva, Aguero
Dynamo Kyiv: Shovkovskiy, Antunes, Dragovic, Vida, Khacheridi, Veloso, Garmash, Gusev, Buyalskiy, Yarmolenko, Teodorczyk
Man City lose both centre-backs in 22 minutes
The night got off to a disappointing start for the home side when Vincent Kompany lasted just five minutes. A tussle near the City box saw Kompany turn and grimace before putting the ball out of play and signaling the bench.
The look on his face said it all and he was eventually replaced by Eliaquim Mangala as the Belgian defender set an unwanted record of the fastest substitution for a captain in Champions League history.
The night only got worse when Nicolas Otamendi was also forced off in the 22nd minute after a collision with Vitaliy Buyalskyi earlier in the game. Although he was deemed fit to continue the first time, he could not carry on and was replaced by Martin Demichelis.
It was a scrappy first half with neither team really testing the goalkeeper. The Ukrainian side showed some promise and also fired a couple of warning shots when they caught the new centre-back pair out of position with Hart coming to the rescue and clearing the danger.
At the other end, Aguero was trying his best to make a nuisance of himself in Kyiv’s half but barely managed to register a touch inside the box. Toure, who had a heated argument with Hart after taking over the captain’s armband, did manage to impose himself and move the ball forward but the defence stood firm and denied City any clear shots on goal.
The home fans groaning after every lost opportunity to take the lead only intensified when Jesus Navas picked up the ball in midfield, made a fleeting run while riding a tackle but proceeded to put the ball out of play when trying to find Aguero on the right. Another instance saw Gael Clichy overlap on the left and put in a decent low cross into the box only to find nobody making a run in the centre.
The half-time whistle couldn’t come soon enough for the managers to switch tactics with the score reading 0-0 and City still on course for a quarter-final spot.
City struggle to score but get the job done
The second half started livelier than the first with City shifting gears and finding their attacking verve. They won two free-kicks within the first four minutes of play and David Silva almost managed to find Mangala with the second but he was offside. Kyiv goalkeeper Oleksandr Shovkovskiy then had a scare when a back-pass which was literally a volley came his way and he had to control it with his legs before making a clearance.
Aguero finally brought some semblance of purpose to City’s attack with a penetrating run through to the final third before he was tripped by Denys Garmash, allowing Toure to take a free-kick which just went wide. Navas also went close with a right-footed shot that beat the keeper but came off the post.
It was Andriy Yarmolenko, the same man who tortured City in the first leg, who tested Hart with a driving shot after he got the better of Clichy when cutting in.
Aguero then produced a moment of brilliance when he brought down a cross-field long ball with his first touch and then pirouetted on the spot to lose two defenders and move clear on goal. A backtracking defence eventually came to the rescue and the Argentine striker’s through ball to Silva was too heavy, allowing Shovkovskiy to make the save.
By the final stages of the match, it was pretty evident that Kyiv were not going to score enough away goals to make a difference to the end result. Hart even denied Kyiv in the final minute of injury time to keep a clean sheet as City held on to make history and reach the quarter-finals after exiting in the Round of 16 in the last three seasons.Published 16 Mar 2016, 03:14 IST