Sergio Aguero’s outstanding hat-trick earned Manchester City a 3-2 win over 10-man Bayern Munich on Tuesday night to keep the club’s hopes of progressing to the Champions League’s knockout phase alive.
Bayern had to play more than 70 minutes with ten men after Mehdi Benatia was sent off, but cancelled out Aguero's early penalty with goals before half-time from Xabi Alonso and Robert Lewandowski.
City produced a late comeback, however, thanks to Aguero's heroics and now go into their final game away at Roma level on points with the Italian side and CSKA Moscow.
It means Manuel Pellegrini’s side are guaranteed to qualify for the next round if they win and the Russian champions fail to win at Bayern - who have already qualified as Group E winners
Having sealed the three points in dramatic fashion, Aguero has deservedly received the majority of the headlines, but there was another standout City performer on the night in veteran Frank Lampard.
|Total Shots||Shot Accuracy||Assists||Total Key Passes||Total Passes||Passing Accuracy||Total Tackles||Interceptions||Duels Won||Duel Success||Mins Played|
Deputising for the suspended Yaya Toure, who was sent off in the shock 2-1 home defeat to CSKA, the 36-year-old started in an advanced role behind the Argentine striker and proved again why his summer signing on loan from sister club New York City FC was an inspired piece of business.
His experience and drive was evidently much-needed, but the Chelsea legend was quick to deflect credit from himself to talisman Aguero after the final whistle.
"It was a special night in the end," he told Sky Sports. "We kept believing even though the clock was ticking it is difficult, but I did feel there were chances in it for us, especially the fact they were down to ten men and there were spaces at the back and thank god we have got that man up front.
“He is something incredible. When he runs through you expect him to score he is at the top of his game and one of the top strikers in the world."
Currently scheduled to return to NYCFC on January 1, Lampard’s successful stint at the Etihad Stadium so far, with four goals and four assists in 10 games, has unsurprisingly led to suggestions that City will attempt to extend his stay in Manchester.
With the MLS expansion side set to begin their inaugural season in March 2015, it remains to be seen how things will unfold over the coming months but, having been expected to be just a bit-part player under Pellegrini, his impact has certainly been a welcome surprise.