Home » Champ League, Latest » CL Match Report: Man City 5 CSKA Moscow 2

Alvaro Negredo took the match-ball but it was Sergio Agüero who took the breath away as Manchester City progressed to the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time. Agüero’s astonishing turn for his, and City’s, second goal was worth the admission fee alone.

Receiving Samir Nasri’s quick rapier of a pass, the Argentine with the low centre of gravity and high technical standards used his heel to spirit the ball away from the CSKA centre-half, Aleksei Berezutski. He took another touch and then swept a shot in. It was all done by Agüero in a blur of movement, a blend of anticipation, imagination and utter faith in his touch. It was a reminder of why City deserve to be feared in Europe.

Agüero has now scored five times in Group D, and Negredo only one fewer, and their prolific partnership will ensure a few palpitations amongst opposing coaches when the draw for the last 16 is made on Dec 16.

Negredo was named man of the match, having scored two tap-ins and then a late header, as the City fans serenaded him with “feed the Beast and he will score”.

City’s football in the first half-hour, comprising Agüero’s brace and the first of Negredo’s hat-trick, was exquisite. Some would describe them as machine-like, but there was so much more fluidity to their movement, particularly when Samir Nasri or David Silva were in possession.

The pair kept dropping deep, collecting the ball off Yaya Touré and Fernandinho, turning and building, passing and dribbling, creating havoc in the CSKA defence. Nasri has rarely played better than this for City, assisting two goals, and deservedly departing to a standing ovation.

City fans loved this. After frustrating attempts at reaching the knock-out stages, here they qualified with two games to spare. They host Viktoria Plzen on Nov 27, and then travel to Munich to play Bayern on Dec 10. They have a chance of finishing top of Group D but simply qualifying is satisfying enough. Manuel Pellegrini, the coach who guided Villarreal to the semi-finals in 2006 and Malaga to the quarter-finals last season, was brought in to make City more of a force in Europe and he has certainly done that, although concerns persist about the defence.

This was the one troubling element of the evening. Costel Pantilimon, again starting ahead of Joe Hart, had little chance with the visitors’ goals from Seydou Doumbia but the Ivory Coast striker should not have been granted the opportunities. Poor ­concentration let City down. First Martin Demichelis did not anticipate Doumbia’s run and then Gaël Clichy dragged the forward down, gifting him a penalty.

Such lapses will ensure City remain open-eyed as they advance in Europe. As Bayern demonstrated on Oct 2 here, there are exceptional teams in Europe who will prey on frailties. Vincent Kompany cannot return soon enough to bring more authority and organisation to City’s back-line.

At least there were no reports of any more racist abuse from the CSKA fans, who had directed monkey chants at Touré in Moscow on Oct 23.

City supporters began the game by chanting Touré’s name and telling their Russian counterparts exactly what they thought of them. The CSKA fans seemed more interested in taking off their shirts, twirling scarves above their heads, gesticulating occasionally at the hosts and, briefly in the second half, setting off a flare. The police intervened at one point to break up some fighting between CSKA fans.

Their team gave them little to shout about, certainly not in a brutally one-sided first half-hour which had City supporters enquiring of their visitors, “Are you Norwich in disguise?” A repeat of Saturday’s 7-0 scoreline looked likely after 30 minutes.

The first goal arrived after three minutes. Agüero, Fernandinho and Clichy worked the ball forward and then Silva just ran at CSKA’s defence, panicking Zoran Tosic, the former Manchester United player, into a foul and a penalty emphatically converted by Agüero.

Enjoying 61 per cent possession in the first half, City were in total control. Touré nutmegged Keisuke Honda. Nasri went on one dribble to the touchline and back, twice seeing off Tosic and Kirill Nababkin. City’s second came via a long move culminated by Nasri driving that pass into Agüero, whose response was magical.

The poacher turned goalmaker on the half-hour. Having traded passes with Agüero, Negredo ran in towards the six-yard box, timing his run to reach Agüero’s cross. It was a simple tap-in, making it 3-0 with only a third of the game played. An avalanche of more City goals should have ensued but CSKA scored next, Doumbia exploiting sluggish marking by Demichelis to run through, round Pantilimon and touch the ball into the net.

City restored their three-goal advantage six minutes in the second half, the move begun by Touré. City’s captain dinked the ball through for Nasri to run past the ragged ranks of CSKA’s defence. The Frenchman flicked the ball across for the unmarked Negredo to make it 4-1.

Another mistake then scarred City’s display. Clichy was then caught out when Doumbia ran at him, getting in the box, before being dragged down by the City left-back. The City fans chanted the name of their keeper but Pantilimon was sent the wrong way by Doumbia.

It almost defied logic that CSKA were still even nominally in the game. Negredo had his hat-trick in the final minute, following some good skill from James Milner. Freed by Agüero, Milner dropped his ­shoulder and lifted in a cross that Negredo headed back in past ­Akinfeev. Moments later, the full-time whistle went, confirming City’s presence in the knockout stage.

Mission accomplished for ­Pellegrini but that defence still needs work.

Source: Telegraph

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