SERGIO SAVES CITY'S BACON; Aguero's Last-Gasp Goal Lifts Mancini

Daily Mail (London), October 19, 2011 | Go to article overview

SERGIO SAVES CITY'S BACON; Aguero's Last-Gasp Goal Lifts Mancini


Byline: by MATT LAWTON

Manchester C 2

Villarreal 1

SERGIO AGUERO did not just save Manchester City from what would have been a crushing draw here last night; he spared his manager yet more questions about Carlos Tevez.

Because until the Argentina striker stepped off the bench to score City's 93rd-minute winner, this had been a game when Tevez's presence would have been most welcome.

For as masterful as they have been in the Barclays Premier League so far this season, Roberto Mancini's side continue to perform like novices on this European stage.

Aguero's winner gives them hope in this group of death, but all may now depend on them raising their game at Villarreal and Bayern.

Again, they were caught out by an early sucker punch, a team skilled in the art of counter-attacking football seizing on a mistake from David Silva and immediately putting City under pressure with a goal from Cani. What you might call a torpedo from La Liga's Yellow Submarine.

City equalised with an own goal shortly before the break and the arrival of Aguero as a second-half substitute underlined Mancini's determination to record that first Champions League win.

And it was the little Argentine who finally delivered, turning in Pablo Zabaleta's cross at the far post in time added on.

Mancini admitted: 'It was an important goal because it is now open for first place. I said before the game it was important to win and I think we deserved to because we had a lot of chances to score.

'But Villarreal were very dangerous on the counter-attack because they play football very well.'

Mancini certainly could have used Tevez here because one of the keys to European football is playing two styles with two teams and, in the last two games, City have done precisely the opposite to what they should have done.

They were cavalier in Bavaria and cautious here, when Sir Alex Ferguson will always stress the importance of winning your home games.

With Edin Dzeko isolated, Mancini had to make changes that only unsettled his team. First he replaced Adam Johnson with Gareth Barry in an attempt to provide his principal striker with more support through Yaya Toure, and then he replaced Nigel de Jong with Aguero.

De Jong was clearly lacking match sharpness after his recent injury problem.

Mancini might have ranked Silva among the finest players on the eve of this encounter but the Spaniard did not exactly justify his billing when he made the mistake that led to Villarreal's fourth-minute goal.

It was a sloppy pass for de Jong and one that enabled the Spaniards to launch a rapid attack, Giuseppe Rossi forcing a save from Joe Hart before Cani seized on the rebound with a simple finish.

Hart's decision to try to catch Rossi's shot, rather than simply parry it to safety, was a bad one.

With no travelling fans -- the only Spanish here were locals -- the Etihad Stadium fell strangely silent. …

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