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Match Report: City 4-2 Viktoria Plzen

Michael Regan

Three points, four more goals and a chance of topping Group D still remains yet these takeaways in part mask what was at times a laboured and stuttering Manchester City performance.

Following the win on matchday four City had the rare pleasure of having sewn up qualification as opposed to scrambling around and juggling all manner of permutations to assess the possibilities of a forlorn attempt to qualify for the knock-out stages.

This allowed Manuel Pellegrini the luxury of heavily rotating his squad - less than a handful of what you'd consider first choice players started - so inevitably there was a lethargy and lack of spark to City's play. This was the case for both sides though as the opening stages brought little to cheer the crowd before Samir Nasri struck the bar before missing a good opportunity minutes later.

City sprung into life and took the lead when Rajtoral was penalised for handball and Sergio Aguero hit his 16th of the season. Plain sailing from there on? Hardly, as City as Horava beat Joe Hart with a fine shot to level matters. The visitors, by some stretch the weakest of the sides in the group exposed City's defence on more than one occasion, every bit of concerning for future hopes in the competition as their attack provides hope.

1-1 at the half then and a scoreline not in dispute. The break caused one or two hearts to skip a beat as it appeared that Aguero had been withdrawn through injury. This fear was to be misplaced though as it was revealed that Pellegrini only intended to play him for the first half only.

The introduction of Jesus Navas stretched the field and City had greater purpose, if not necessarily an end product, but Nasri got a deserved goal only for Plzen to score once again through Stanislav Tecl. The introduction of Alvaro Negredo roused the crowd when the game appeared to once again be drifting but it wasn't until little over ten minutes remaining when City grabbed a lead they didn't relinquish.

It was Negredo himself who finished at the far post before Edin Dzeko smartly headed home in injury time to put some daylight between the sides and cap the win, with Yaya Toure even finding time to pick up a yellow card that although rules him out of the final group match ensures he is available for the knockout stages,

The win of course keeps City hopes of finishing atop Group D alive but with this requiring a 3-0 City win in Munich the are all but looking at a second placed finish. Matchday five has not altered who City's likely opponents will be and whilst there is plenty to fear from City's attack (again minus David Silva tonight) there remains the concern that in the Champions League at least there remains the concern at the amount of chances being conceded; something they can ill-afforded in the knock-out stages.