City finally ended the resistance of a stubborn Viktoria Plzen to win 4-2 during a largely subdued display at the Etihad Stadium.
Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri both saw their goals pegged by Plzen who gave as good as they got before late strikes from Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko sealed victory and gave the Blues three more Champions League points ahead of the final group game in just under a fortnight.
Bayern Munich’s 3-1 win against CSKA Moscow earlier in the day all-but ended the Blues’ hopes of winning Group D - though it’s not impossible – and so a little of the lustre of this game went with it.
It was never going to be easy to follow Sunday’s superb victory over Spurs and with qualification to the knock-out stages of the Champions League already assured, this game was always was something of a dead rubber in some respects.
Of course, there was plenty to play for in other areas as a much-changed City aimed to continue their excellent home form plus there were opportunities for players who haven’t had much game time in the past few weeks to stake a claim for a starting spot against Swansea.
And with a healthy crowd just shy of 38,000 baying for more goals against a Viktoria Plzen side who had already shipped 12 goals in their previous four group games, this was not an opportunity for the free-scoring Blues to put their feet up.
As it was, Plzen played with more passion in the opening period and created enough chances to have been a couple of goals to the good before an Aguero cross struck a flailing hand and the referee awarded a penalty to the hosts
...City 4 Plzen 2..
Aguero, for whom everything seems to go in at the moment, calmly tucked home the spot-kick to give City a lead that was barely deserved. Tomas Horava restored parity two minutes before the break with a rising shot that took the merest deflection and the teams went at half-time level.
There was more of the same after the re-start with the Blues creating chances and Plzen, still in with a chance of Europa League qualification, dangerous on the counter-attack. Indeed, had the Czechs played anywhere near as well as they did on this occasion, third place would already have been in the bag.
City regained the lead just past the hour when sub Jesus Navas expertly picked out the run of Nasri and the Frenchman volleyed home from eight yards but the lead lasted just four minutes as Stanislav Tecl once again drew the visitors level with a finish from close range.
Plzen then went in search of a third and were denied by a couple of good saves from Hart as they chased a famous win, but they probably weren’t calculating in the introduction of Negredo who, after just three minutes, had once again given the Blues the lead as he tapped home a Navas cross almost on the goal-line.
Plzen fought valiantly to the end, but when Edin Dzeko cleverly nodded home a minute from the end of normal time, it was a case of Czech-mate for the plucky visitors.
Only four this time, then. City will look to end their goal drought against Swansea on Sunday!
Find out if City can further improve the league’s best goalscoring record when Swansea City visit the Etihad Stadium next Sunday 1 December at 4.10pm.
Tickets are still available and can be purchased online at mcfc.co.uk/tickets or by telephone on 0161 444 1894.
For more details, read full ticket information for the game here.