Late comeback denies famous City victory
By Aaron Leggott
In 1998, Manchester City were the laughing stock of English football. A combination of poor management, terrible ownership and a less than average playing staff meant this historic club were rotting in the depths of the third tier.
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And despite a 3-2 loss last night in our opening Champions League game against the Spanish champions, we can hold our heads up high and be proud to have played so well on such a big stage.
Goals from Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov saw the Blues take the lead twice against Madrid, only to be pegged back each time, and lose all three points with minutes to play.
Madrid were delighted. Mourinho was on his knees, like his talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, as the Portugese front man yet again seemed to drag his team out of a hole with a dipping effort.
It was a result which was fair on both sides. Mourinho's men deserved the victory, but City battled hard throughout the 90 minutes, and can be proud of the performance, even if the defending was a bit sketchy at times.
Madrid dominated the opening stages of the game, and it was no surprise to see Ronaldo test Joe Hart in the City goal early on, but England's number one was equal to Ronaldo's efforts with some magnificent saves to keep City in the game.
Maicon was really struggling to keep hold of Ronaldo, as was Clichy with Di Maria, and it was clear that Mancini needed to sort something out. City's frontmen had hardly touched the ball by the half hour mark, and despite the hard work of Carlos Tevez, he was getting no rewards for his persistence.
After Samir Nasri went off injured mid-way through the first half, Mancini decided to shuffle the formation, as Kolarov replaced the French playmaker. Mancini decided to revert to his 3-5-2 formation from pre-season and to an extent, it worked.
With Yaya Toure being able to push further forward, he was clearly the threat for Madrid's defence and he proved that a few times in the first half. His darting runs created numerous problems for the Madrid defence, and had he released Silva and Nasri better, City could have taken a shock lead.
However, Madrid kept pushing , and in all truth they should have had the game wrapped up at half time. Ronaldo was the main threat, but Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuian also provided a persistent threat to the Blues' defence.
City came out in the second half and played more like English champions. They kept the ball much better, and as a result they grabbed a goal against the run of play, thanks to the hard work of Yaya Toure.
With just 20 minutes to play, City broke after containing some Madrid possession, and Pepe completely misjudged the run of Yaya Toure leaving the Ivorian to run through on goal. Toure then placed a through ball into the feet of Edin Dzeko, who wasn't going to miss from close range as the Bosnian fired past Iker Casillas to give City an unlikely lead.
The lead wasn't to last long though, as Madrid pushed even more men forward in an attempt to grab an equaliser. And to give them a helping hand, Mourinho decided to bring on Luka Modric, Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil for Khedira, Essien and Higuian.
However, Madrid's equaliser came from an unlikely source, as Marcelo scored a curling effort with his weaker foot, giving Hart no chance in the City goal.
City didn't put their heads down though, and despite Madrid keeping the pressure high on the City goal, Kolarov seemingly looked to have given City a historic win as his free kick curled into the bottom corner.
As expected though, Madrid got back up and hit back at City almost immediately once again as Benzema took advantage of some sloppy defending to put the ball past Joe Hart on the edge of the area.
With the game looking to be heading for a draw, there was another twist in the tale as Madrid finally took the lead for the first time in the game, and it was from their main man Cristiano Ronaldo, as he skipped past Zabaleta before dipping the ball under the arms of Hart.
Ronaldo was delighted with the effort, and it proved how much beating the Premier League champions means to even the best teams in the world.
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(c) The Sky Blue View 2012