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Sporting Lisbon 1 - Manchester City 0

Estadio Jose Alvalade

Thursday 8th March 2012 6.00 PM

Attendance: 34,371

City Have It all To Do At Home

A welcome distraction from the pressures of the Premier League was on offer tonight as City set their sights on the last eight in the Europa League with a first leg away tie at Sporting Lisbon. Sporting had won three of their last four domestic games and had some dangerous players in the likes of Diego Capel and Insua. The game kicked off at 6.00 PM U.K. time so there will have been plenty of fans leaving work early to get home in time for kick off.

Mancini named a six changes to the side with Richards and Yaya not even on the bench. The line-up was as follows: Hart, Clichy, Kompany, Kolo, Kolarov, De Jong, Barry, Milner, Silva, Aguero and Dzeko. The bench was made up of: Pantilimon, Lescott, Savic, Pizarro, Johnson, Nasri and Balotelli. So lots of changes, but as Mancini has so often proved, he has a full squad of world class players. Indeed so good are the team that they can play a left back at right back!

The match started evenly as the home side pressed and City absorbed pressure looking to counter attack on the break and chances were few and far between. The two teams were hard to separate but just before the stroke of ten minutes disaster struck as the talismanic Captain Kompany signalled to the bench that he could not continue.

With Yaya suspended and Kompany now out, City looked to be lacking the bite these two players gave them. Lescott was quickly introduced and it was The Blues who so nearly drew first blood from a towering Toure header, but the Sporting keeper Patricio.

As the half wore, it was City that looked the stronger of the two sides and Hart was seldom called on to make a save. Barry nearly scored after he took up a good position on the edge of the box after a City corner was headed clear, but his shot went inches wide of the left post.

Sporting did have their chances as first Ismalov`s shot was blocked by Lescott and then Carrico was afforded too much space by the defence, but luckily for The Blues, he blasted his shot wide.

As the referees whistle went, it was noticeable that City were struggling to up the pace of the game and the team as a whole was guilty of giving the ball away and losing 50/50`s they would normally have won. What was also glaringly apparent was that both forwards, but Dzeko in particular, were not having good games.

There were no changes by either side at half time and it was the home team that started the brighter. City had the first chance as Kolarov unusually in this game found Silva in the opposition box. The little Spaniard shaped to shoot, but as the tackle came in, seemed to hesitate and his shot looped over the bar.

Sporting responded well to this City attack and it was the away side who were soon picking the ball out of their net as Hart failed to hold onto a free-kick from Fernandez but got down brilliantly to block Xandao's first shot from point-blank range. Unfortunately for City this was not enough as Xandao reacted before any of the Blue defender`s and his improvised back-heel past the stranded Hart and crossed the line to give Sporting the lead.

Van Wolfswinkel was the next Sporting player to get in on the act, but his shot was saved easily by Hart. Within minutes of this, disaster nearly struck as Hart and Lescott failed to communicate with each other and the tall centre half headed the incoming ball over the cross bar for a corner when it should have been the keeper`s.

Mancini then introduced Nasri for Dzeko. The midfielder linked up play well and started to create chances for City, but it was the introduction of Balotelli that almost changed the game. He won five free kicks on or around the edge of the opposition box, struck the crossbar and got at least two Sporting players booked. .

The final few minutes saw the home team sit back and soak up the pressure. Aguero and Balotelli both went close, but when the whistle went, the score line was a fair reflection in a match that City failed to shine.

Mancini`s charges take Sporting back to The Fortress Etihad with only a one goal deficit to overcome. Yaya will be back and hopefully Kompany if his injury is not too serious. The last eight still beckons, but this was a night City will want to forget and a night where Balotelli`s alleged shenanigans have cost the club. I think had he started the result may well have been different.

Star Player

Mario Balotelli - Did more in his short time on the pitch than Dzeko managed in his entire game. Looked strong, sharp and Mancini made a mistake not bringing him on earlier.

Player Ratings


Joe Hart - 7

Didn't have much to do and made a good double save before the goal. Could maybe have pushed the rebound out for a corner.

Gael Clichy - 6

A good left back, not so good at right back. His right foot crossing was woeful and every time he cut in he got tackled. Gave the ball away far too much.

Vincent Kompany - 7

Didn't put a foot wrong until he went off injured. Could be a big blow to City.

Kolo Toure - 6

Looked lumbering and at times the ball passed him by.

Aleksander Kolarov - 6

His crossing was poor today and he got caught out of position too much.

Nigel De Jong - 7

Tackled well and broke play up but again allowed himself to be bypassed.

Gareth Barry - 6.5

Unusually gave the ball away tonight. Eventually substituted.

James Milner - 7

Put in a huge effort but was second to the ball unusually for him.

David Silva - 7

Showed some nice touches but couldn't break down the Sporting defensive wall.

Sergio Aguero - 6.5

Didn't have the best game and once more wasted chances to score.

Edin Dzeko - 5

Had a mare tonight. Couldn't find a City player with his passing and his control was woeful. Guidetti shouldn't worry about getting ahead of Dzeko on this display.

Joleon Lescott - 7

Thrown on early and looked ok. Cleared once or twice when the ball should have been Hart's.

Samir Nasri - 7

Linked up play well and offered another option. Had a chance to shoot and possibly score and opted to pass.

Mario Balotelli - 8

Came on and almost changed the game. Hit the cross bar with a header and earnt a number of free kicks around the edge of the box. Should have been on much earlier.

Manager Rating

Roberto Mancini - 6

Made a mistake playing Clichy at right back and should have taken Dzeko off at half time. His tactics lost the game. Still only has one goal to overcome and City should be able to do that at home.




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The journalist

Writer: Redmond6 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday March 8 2012

Time: 8:39PM

Your Comments

I wouldn't say we have it "ALL to do at Home". We're more than capable of beating these lads in the return. I'd rather our FT score this evening than Utd's HT score going into a second leg. Not worried here, actually not worried either way. As long as we keep our eye on the main prize (epl)
rojo2010
Fair play to Lisbon, they did well, got their goal ( nice finish ) and sat on it. Agree with Rojo, we have more than enough to turn this around at home.
Bluedub
We just didn't get going tonight. The big man will make a difference back in town. Great support out there Blues.
Johnny Baguette
The captain on Twitter....."Still too early for updates on the injury. I appreciate your concerns. We have to turn focus to the Swansea game now. Team will be fired up.... " http://twitter.com/#!/vincentkompany
Johnny Baguette
passing was ***** poor, Dzeko was abysmal, and the average player rating was no where near 6-7, imho non got over 5, and some below 3, that was the performance tonight,we just didnt seem to want to win, i wonder if any players saw the bookies price for Lisbon and had a little wager on them to get something, and it pains me to say it.... a terrible showing....
cityman51
Mancini on Vinny Injury: "We have to wait one or two days to know the exact extent of his injury, but it is a problem with his calf. I hope to have Kompany back in 10 days or two weeks, but we have other solutions."
Johnny Baguette
Meanwhile the rags battered by Bilbao and cling on again through yet another penalty. So much for the strong second half of the season myth.
Johnny Baguette
We'll beat them at home, the question is will they score, meaning we have away goals to contend with. Much rather be in our position than United's.
StuMCFC
Personally I think the scores are overrated - Dzeko doesn't deserve more than a three, I think he only managed 1 pass during his time on the pitch, the rest of the time he allways lost the ball and put us in trouble. We were completely overrun in midfield in the 1st half so how Dejong gets a 7 beats me, he also almost got sent off and his marking was apalling when Lisbon almost made it 2-0...isn't 5 the average? surely we were average today! BTW I think Kolarov was our best player yesterday and deserved more than a 6...There, my toys are out the pram, no offence intended though ;-)
Blue ponderer
 

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