Bonfire night in Manchester… (insert firework/football cliché here)
Anyway down to business, it was time for City to host the Russians for their home leg of the fixture that made all the headlines for the wrong reasons last time out.
Yaya Toure responded to the abuse he suffered the last time he captained City against CSKA by tweeting ‘I want my city fans to show our guests how welcoming citizens are. Lets show the world why our sky is blue and I know I can count on u’
The fans took a little while to warm up but Sergio Aguero showed everyone why their sky is oh so blue.
Aguero was on fire from the kick off. He probably did not need the helping hand which Tosic provided in only the 2nd minute. The former Manchester United man chopped down David Silva in the box to give an early penalty to the home team. Silva had shimmied towards the goal line with some lovely footwork. Tosic, who got CSKA’s goal in the previous leg, went through his legs and got nothing on the ball. Frankly it was one of the most blatant penalties I’ve seen in a long time.
Up stepped an in form Aguero who hammered the ball into the top right corner, past a fully stretched Akinfeev who went the right way but could only watch the ball rocket it. (Sorry had to get at least one firework pun in!)
City then seemed to be a little shocked by the early lead and went quiet other than the odd bit of lovely footwork from Samir Nasri and David Silva in and around the area but no end product, until Aguero decided to get involved again.
Nasri slipped a pass through four Moscow defenders before Aguero trapped the ball and executed a delicious turn and shot. With his back to goal he flicked the ball behind his standing leg, spun on the spot and then buried the ball in the bottom right corner of the net. All this with the 6” 3’ Berezutski breathing down his neck.
Now Aguero was doing what was needed at one end of the pitch, so how were City doing at the other? Well the big news when the team sheets came in was that Joe Hart was still on the bench. Pantilimon had kept two clean sheets against Newcastle and Norwich before this game so how could Pellegrini drop him now?
Well it wasn’t until 20 minutes in that Pantilimon had his first test and he fluffs the dropping ball which deflects up in the air from the CSKA free-kick via the City wall. Costel had plenty of time to judge the descending ball but seems to get caught in two minds between a catch and a punch and does neither but gets away with it in the end.
This little wobble from the City keeper might have the home fans getting a little nervy but they did not need to worry as Negredo and Aguero broke up the pitch shortly afterwards and after a little ‘one-two’ Aguero turned provider and Negredo tapped in from the edge of the six yard box. 3- 0 City and all from three shots on target.
It looked like it was going to be a perfect night for the citizens but then yet another defensive wobble costs them a goal. Nastasic played Doumbia onside when the rest of the back four stepped up. The young Serb tried to make up for his error but Doumbia was able to finish with a simple strike. The replay showed an error which looked to be due to the unfamiliar partnership of Nastasic and Demichelis. The veteran Argentine stepping up with his arm raised for offside but Nastasic was trying to cover the run leaving City wide open.
City start the second half by turning on the style with a glorious fourth. A teasing chip from Yaya, a graceful flick with the outside of the boot from Nasri and another neat finish from Negredo, now the race for the hat trick is on!
City tried to shoot themselves in the foot again when Gael Clichy was beaten on the wing and decided to tug Doumbia down and give away a penalty 20 minutes from time, leaving the Ivory Coast international to slot the ball the wrong side of Pantilimon.
City try to counter these defensive issues with even more attacking. Negredo had a lovely effort sale over the bar, with a ball played in with his back to goal he flicked the ball over his head squirmed between the defenders and unleashed a volleyed shot worthy of his nickname ‘The Beast’. Unfortunately it dipped just over the bar. Leaving the score at 4-2.
Alvaro Negredo was named man of the match in the stadium a few minutes before he finally sealed his hat trick in stoppage time. Great work from Milner who was on as a sub as he find Negredo on the far post who nods in to wrap the game up. Even though the big man did manage to get his first hat trick for his new club, I would say in man of the match terms it’s a dead heat with Aguero. The pair are forging a glorious strike partnership which looks very promising for the rest of the season.
Honorable mention as well to Samir Nasri who seemed to be butting heads with Mancini last season and was even named and shamed by the former City manager. However under Pellegrini he seems to be returning to the kind of player which warranted the £24 million price tag when he was signed from Arsenal. Its easy to over look him with Negredo, Aguero, Navas and Silva flying forward in attack but Nasri had another good solid game with 2 assists before being replaced by the lightening fast Jesus Navas.
Bayen Munich won their match in group D against Viktoria Plzen which means the German champions and Manchester City are through to the next round in the Champion’s League. After the previous European failings under Mancini it appears to be 3rd time lucky for City.
image: © geetarchurchy