If that final five minutes didn’t get your heart racing, I’m not sure if you’re human or not!
With the build up to this game being headlined by the state of the field and the spray paint color choice, both teams had no problem playing on it. The lineup was pretty predictable, keeping the pairing of Aguero and Negredo at the top together. This was something that confused many others and I before the Bayern game when Dzeko replaced Negredo.
At the beginning of the game both teams looked to be playing cautiously due in the most part to the state of the field. Having a lot of the early possession, City looked the more likely to get on the score sheet first. But, in a spell of five minutes that ended with a CSKA goal, which resulted a poor defensive effort by Garcia and Pablo. When Garcia couldn’t beat Honda in an aerial battle, the header rolled to the Tosic, who was making an unmarked run down the right side. Tosic chipped the ball over Joe; Pablo was caught out of position and couldn’t recover to get in front of the Moscow attacker.
We showed a lot of pride, like we did against Everton, as we managed a quick response to equalize. A Moscow defender stopped a cross by Silva, but luckily, the deflection fell in perfect position for Aguero to find it and score. I had a flashback to the United game and caught myself saying, "don’t give up a late goal!" Fortunately, it was City who scored late in the first half. For a few minutes before Aguero’s goal it looked like Moscow were going to take advantage of our poor defending on the break. But after a pair of beautiful pair from Silva and Negredo, Aguero headed the ball into the back of the net to give us a 2-1 lead heading into the dressing room.
When the teams came out for the second half I was hoping we’d be able to get a third. My heart could have used one! I was thinking Moscow knew what they needed to do to equalize. And what they looked to do was try to take advantage of our poor defending at the back. Moscow was successful at opening us up, but we were able to come up with the vital interception to keep them from scoring. Regardless of how easy both teams made it look to play on the poorly kept field, it could easily have been the difference between us coming away with three points, or zero. I commend the boys on letting go of all the pre-match headlines, and performing, especially coming from behind to win. It was games like this last year in the CL where we would lose focus and let the pressure get the best of us. We didn’t today, Come on City!
This was a critical game as both we and Moscow will contend for second place in this group; so it feels good to get all three points from this game. And, given the last five minutes, we are lucky to have escaped with those points. As long as we win the games we should (Plzen and Moscow again), we will be into the next round in the Champions league (I feel like John Madden when I say that). Big game against Chelsea this Sunday, already had to inform a Chelsea "fan" that we were playing one another. I hope we can get at least a draw, but I’m obviously looking for the three points ;).
Aguero (8 MotM) – Will we see more heading goals now that he has gotten two in as many games? Either way, he did a great job of letting his frustration go and get onto the score sheet.
Negredo (7) – Linked up well with Aguero, again, and the two seem to have built a great partnership (like the one with Yaya and Fernandinho). He had trouble getting involved in parts of the match, but after Moscow’s goal he was more of a factor.
Silva (6) – Couldn’t be his normal impactful self in this game, but his passes to Negredo and Aguero lead to both goals for City. A six may be due to the fact that I’m used to seeing more brilliance from him, but he was still vital.
Navas (6) – He does the little things so well. There are times when he will start on the left, and then come all the way to the right to stop an attacker. His hustle is top notch, and his ability to win corners gives City chances to convert off set pieces.
Yaya (7) – He and Fernandinho did their jobs both on offense and defense, and he won headers in the box to clear the ball off set pieces. He hasn’t pushed forward as much as in previous games, but as the second half wore on he became more aggressive in attack. Could have scored a goal very early in the game off a corner but was unable to get on to the end of Aguero’s header.
Fernandinho (7) – He did another good job of stopping possession in the midfield as he has done a lot this season. He has looked more and more comfortable in his role with City lately. Not to mention how comfortable he looked throughout the game today, he is really thriving in his role.
Zabaleta (5) – He struggled at times today, but when City needed him, other than on the Moscow goal, he was there to make a strong tackle to win the ball back. He did a good job of getting involved in attack down the wing. Silly challenge late to earn himself a card.
Nastasic (6) – Not that there was much competition, but he was definitely our top defender today. He had timely interceptions and tackles, which stopped Moscow from having good opportunities to score.
Garcia (5) – He was constantly beat off the dribble, and had trouble defending Moscow’s attacks. The low-light of his performance was certainly getting beat to a header by the shorter Honda. But, he did have times when he had a great clearance or tackle, so it really wasn’t all bad for him.
Kolarov (6) – He is playing with a lot of confidence, even though he may not be our best defensive option at left back. He had some solid tackles; the best coming to stop a break from Moscow.
Hart (7) – Best save of the day came on the Doumbia header, moving in the opposite direction of the shot made it a difficult save. Joe did a good job to hold on to it. Wow, he may have been lucky to stop that shot from Honda, but he was huge at the end of the game!
Dzeko (4) – Not that he was on for too long, but he did have his chances. Sadly, he was unable to convert any of his opportunities into goal. He needs to get back into the score sheet to regain his confidence.
Nasri (N/A) -
Clichy (N/A) – Not sure what he was doing on that last little piece of play, but Joe Hart saved him from some richly deserved criticism.