Date:Tuesday September 27 2011
Tuesday 27th September 7.45PM
City faced their sternest test so far tonight in the Champions League, playing a Bayern Munich side away at the Allianz Arena. A side that have won nine games out of nine in all competitions and not conceded one goal during this spell. This was a team full of world class players; Ribery, Robben, Schweinsteiger, Muller and Gomez. They had not however faced a side with the likes of Aguero, Dzeko, Silva and Nasri.
Mancini made only one change from the side that beat Everton UFC sorry, Everton FC, with Kolo Toure replacing Joleon Lescott in defence. Carlos Tevez, expected to start by many found himself once again, warming the bench. This was a side full of attacking flair but with a heart of steel. Would they be able to deal with the Bayern movement and pace and counter to this, would Bayern be able to cope with the movement of the City front four.
City kicked off left to right and instantly played a long ball to Dzeko. First time Ribery attempted to get past Richards, the young bull of a full back showed he had the pace to beat Ribery and the body strength to hold him off. .
On two minutes City should have had a penalty as Silva turned his man on the by-line and was brought down by Boateng. The ref waved play on when the spot kick should have beckoned. .
Only a minute later and Richards on a wonderful overlapping run found the by-line and cut a ball back for the onrushing Dzeko. Dzeko struck the ball cleanly enough but straight at the Bayern Keeper.
City were dominating the opening encounters and the Bayern defence were struggling to match the movement offered by City attacking quartet.
On eight minutes, Silva found Aguero with a slide rule pass on the City left. Aguero muscled his way past Van Buyten and if not for a heavy touch would have been through on goal. Bayern were struggling to assert themselves and their only real effort in the opening ten minutes was a deflected shot from outside the box.
City`s first corner of the game came on fifteen minutes as Dzeko`s shot was blocked. The in swinger found Richards`s head but the ball looped up and gave the Bayern keeper an easy take.
Bayern`s second shot came on eighteen minutes and was from fully thirty yards out and was way off target. City were allowing Bayern more possession but were defending well and keeping chances to a premium. Testament to Micah Richards, as Ribery was moved to the opposite flank as Richards had not offered him one chance to cross.
Twenty one minutes in and Nasri picked the ball up near the half way line and went on a run that saw him on the edge of the Bayern box. He almost made it through but an outstretched Bayern foot stopped the run. Seconds later and City should have had a second penalty when Richards was brought down, again by Boateng, when on a charging run.
City were earning free kick after free kick around thirty five yards out from the Bayern goal as the Germans struggled with Silva, Nasri and Barry. On twenty five minutes Yaya Toure tested Bayern`s keeper again with a well struck free kick fully thirty yards out on the City left.
Three minutes later and the Bayern defence gave the ball away under superb pressure from the City attack and Richards again found himself free on the right. The Bayern coach was furious with his defence and was seen gesticulating wildly on the touch line. Cracks were starting to appear in the Bayern team as they seemed shell shocked by the ability, poise and grace displayed by the team in Blue.
Thirty two minutes in and Schweinsteiger struck a fierce shot on target at City`s net but again from over thirty yards out. Not only were the front players putting on a show, the defence were looking like a rock.
A minute later and disaster nearly struck as Kolo Toure went on a run up field and gave the ball away. Ribery was on the ball in an instant and after a bursting run played a wonderful ball across the City box to Gomez. The shot was on but Clichy managed a last second block. Only seconds later and Barry had given the ball away. Schweinsteiger was set free and only ten yards out with just the Hart to beat, he contrived to put the ball over the bar. A lucky break for City who should already be a goal to the good.
Disaster struck on thirty seven minutes after a shot by Ribery was pushed out by Hart. He pushed the ball out and saved a second shot but when he spilled the third, Gomez was on the spot to tap the ball into an empty net.
The nerves were jangling for City and their earlier confidence seemed to disappear in a puff of smoke. Passes were going astray and they were sitting deeper and deeper, allowing the German`s more possession. .
Bayern had a good shout for a penalty on fourty four minutes when Ribery was played through on goal and Kompany clearly blocked his run with no attempt to play the ball. The ref waived play when a pen looked more likely.
On the stroke of half time Bayern earnt a free kick on the City right. Hart made a wonderful save down to his right. Toure lost Gomez who was again the man on the spot to put the ball into the net. Two nil.
The whistle went and the Blues went in two down in a game they should have been winning. Dominating for at least thirty five minutes, the centre halves cost City dear when they did not mark up and allowed Gomez not once but twice a free shot at goal. It was looking like a costly mistake to drop Lescott and an even costlier mistake to allow Bayern back into a game that they were clearly out of. City should have had two penalties though and clearly the ref wasn`t doing them any favours tonight.
Two nil down at half time, City had it all to do. This was a real test of their character. Could they come back from such a deficit. City hadn`t played badly and Hart had made two outstanding saves but down they were.
Two minutes into the half and City must have had their hearts in their throat again. Aguero, booked in the first half for a late challenge went in with his foot raised high. The ref`s hand went to his pocket but to his credit he merely gave a free kick, rather than leaving City with ten men on the pitch.
Five minutes into the half and the City defensive midfield that had been so solid in the first thirty five minutes were simply not apparent on the pitch. Bayern were being allowed too much possession and were growing in confidence with each pass. City were giving away untidy free kicks and Ribery was starting to dominate Richards.
Fifty four minutes in and City`s first change of the night saw De Jong replace Dzeko in a strange decision by Mancini. Surely City needed goals and Dzeko looked as bemused as the fans as he joined his team mates on the bench.
City were now playing with De Jong and Barry playing defensively, Toure further up pitch and Aguero up front.
Dzeko and Mancini were seen to have a confrontation on the touchline with Mancini biting back at Dzeko.
On fifty seven minutes, Gomez could have had a third as Ribery crossed a curling ball towards Hart`s near post. Lucky for City Gomez`s touch let him down and his shot went high and wide.
Bayern in truth were totally dominating City and City`s problems seemed to have continued on the bench where Tevez and Mancini seemed to argue.
The first fifteen minutes of the second half had been played almost exclusively in the City half as each time City broke out, within two touches, Bayern were back in possession. Last week against Everton, Mancini made two inspired substitutions. This week, his decision had no positive impact on the game. The loss of Dzeko meant there was no one up front to hold the ball up and since City were losing the game on the flanks, the introduction of De Jong had little impact on Bayern`s success.
Sixty five minutes in and Aguero made City`s first attack of the half. He broke through the right channel and was about to unleash a shot when Boateng timed a perfect tackle to steal the ball.
Seconds later and City`s second yellow of the game was earnt by Clichy who left his studs in on a challenge as he along with his team mates became increasingly frustrated.
City`s second substitution of the night came on sixty nine minutes as Milner replaced Nasri who had been marked out of the game and had no impact at all. Could Milner bring the flash of inspiration that City needed.
With twenty minutes to go, City were becoming spectators in the game. Bayern were playing a patient build up game with pass after pass after pass finding a Red shirt. Blue shirts were nowhere to be seen when the Bayern players were in possession and on seventy two minutes Joe Hart kept the score down again with a fine save. Before the ensuing corner could be taken, Kolarov replaced the tiring Barry. City defended the corner well and in the next move, Kolarov had earnt City a free kick on the edge of the Bayern box on City`s left. As Milner swang a right footed curler into the box, City had their third shout for a penalty of the night as Van Buyten simultaneously took Kompany and Toure to the ground.
Third yellow card of the night was again borne out of frustration as Yaya Toure lost the ball and unfairly challenged in an attempt to retrieve it.
Fourth followed within seconds as Kolo Toure was guilty of bringing the magnificent Ribery down at the edge of City`s box on the Bayern left. The free kick was swung in with pace and a German head flicked it toward the far post. The ball seemed destined for the City net until Hart produced yet another outstanding save. He had been beaten twice in a game where he had not put a foot wrong.
City did have a shot in the eighty third minute as Kolarov was fed the ball by Silva. It was on target and well struck but too near the keeper who easily caught the ball.
Loudest cheer of the night came on eighty nine minutes as Man of the Match Ribery was replaced with Robben. Ribery had truly been outstanding today and had been the difference between the two sides. From thirty five minutes in he tore Richards to shreds and kept the normally excellent attacking full back to only two attacking sorties in the second forty five.
City had their second chance of the half one minute into stoppage when when Kolarov broke through the Munich defence and struck a shot that went wide. The whistle went seconds later and it was all over.
City had started the game well and until thirty five minutes had dominated but then it all went wrong. Two late first half goals, an inexplicable substitution, dissent and arguing on the bench and a lesson in football by the one and only Frank Ribery. This was a night to forget for City fans as other than Joe Hart, none of the players performed. Mancini should never have dropped Lescott and changed the defence for such an important game and seemed to have lost the plot when replacing Dzeko with De Jong. I think we will be seeing the fallout from this one for a while.
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Date:Tuesday September 27 2011
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