Manchester City's U19 side qualified for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Youth League on Tuesday night after a penalty shoot-out win over German side Schalke 04. The English side were slightly fortunate to come away with a victory on what has a chilly night at the Academy Stadium, but that won't matter as they travel to Rome in March to play AS Roma for a place in the semi-finals.
Eight of Manchester City's side played in the 5-1 win over Schalke's under-21 side in the Premier League International Cup in January, but none of that German side played on Tuesday.
This was a completely different Schalke side and you could see how tough a game they would give the English hosts, with it possible that they could have taken the lead in the opening few minutes.
Leroy Sane looked bright from kick off and it was his early run down the left and subsequent cross into the box that should have led to the opening goal, but Schalke's centre-forward, Fabian Reese, couldn't find the target.
Sane was easily Schalke's best player and it was clear to see why he has made a few appearances for the first-team. Balance and poise on the ball, quite often he would drop the shoulder and glide past City defenders with ease, but his influence faded for large parts of the game, especially when his team went behind.
City's goal came just after the half hour, and it started from the left side with impressive full-back Angelino. His beautiful, sweeping cross-field ball found the returning Thierry Ambrose; he held the ball up, picked out Jack Byrne and the Irish midfielder's shot found the top corner - although Janik Schilder should have done better to keep it out. Only two players have scored more than Byrne’s six in this competition so far.
Before the end of the half Reese would have another chance to find the net for Schalke, but although completely unmarked he couldn't guide Maurice Neubauer's header on target.
The second half was disjointed and scrappy, the referee failed to let the game flow and it was fairly uneventful until the closing seconds. Sane awoke from his slumber long enough to push Schalke forward down the right, he picked out substitute Christian Sivodedov and the 17-year-old Swede applied the calm finish in a sea of mayhem.
Scoring in the 91st minute sent the game to penalties and gave Schalke a huge chance to steal a victory.
Byrne hit the back of the net for the second time when he scored City's first penalty. Maurice Multhaup then crashed his spot kick off the bar and City held an advantage they would never relinquish.
Goalkeeper Angus Gunn would become the hero, saving two of Schalke's penalties, sealing the 3-1 shoot-out win.
It wasn't the best performance from Patrick Vieira's young side, but they showed great character to bounce back from the late equaliser to punish Schalke from the spot.