City’s Champions League campaign is back on track after a hard-fought 2-1 win over CSKA Moscow.
The Sky Blues had to come from behind to beat the Russians and two goals from the in-form Sergio Aguero before the before the break proved enough to secure victory and put Manuel Pellegrini’s side in the driving seat to progress from the group stages.
The win also banished the memory of the Bayern Munich defeat at the Etihad, though the headlines are more likely to be centred on the racist chanting that emanated from a section of the home support towards Yaya Toure.
The game, which had lumbered along at a pedestrian pace for the opening half-hour, suddenly burst into life with two goals in two minutes.
CSKA had shown signs of intent in the moments before they finally broke the deadlock and the goal was a poor one to concede from a defensive point of view.
A long punt up field saw Honda out-jump Javi Garcia and nod the ball into the path of Tosic who nipped in-between Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart to lob the ball over the City keeper and give the hosts the lead.
The Sky Blues needed an instant response in a game they could ill-afford to lose – and they got it. The livewire David Silva, back to his brilliant best this season, picked up the ball on the left before cutting a low cross into the box where an attempted clearance merely teed the ball up for Aguero who poked the ball past Akinfeev in the CSKA goal to level the scores.
It was a goal that could prove pivotal in deciding who progresses from this group, particularly as City, suddenly looking vibrant and incisive, took the lead eight minutes later as Alvaro Negredo dinked a delicious cross in for Aguero to head home his eighth goal in six games.
Kun had only managed one headed goal for City before the weekend - now he can't stop scoring them!
...CSKA 1 City 2...
The Sky Blues, who had always looked as though they had another gear to shift into, could have added a third either side of half-time as Silva went close with a free-kick and then Negredo saw a goal harshly ruled out just after the break with his awkward close-range finish deemed to be an intentional handball.
It meant the lead was still slender enough to give CSKA encouragement and the hosts were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty on 49 minutes when Doumbia skipped around Garcia and was then sent sprawling by the Spaniard in the box but the referee, after a considerable pause, awarded the goal-kick instead.
In a see-saw game, City created numerous chances thereafter with sub Edin Dzeko missing two sitters he’d normally score with his eyes closed and CSKA’s Musa saw a thunderbolt shot beat Hart to seemingly level the scores – only for the referee to rightly rule that Yaya Toure had been fouled in the build-up.
It was a relief because at that stage, the momentum could well have swung back in the home team’s favour, but the Sky Blues stood firm and deep into injury time, Hart produced a stunning save to deny Honda driving home from point-blank range to ensure the flight home was a pleasant one for the team and travelling support.
*Tickets are still available for the return fixture between City and CSKA, which will go a long way to deciding the Sky Blues' UCL group fate. They are priced from £33 for Adults and £17.50 for Under 16s. Purchase online here, or call 0161 444 1894 option 1, option 1, option 2 (tickets purchased over the telephone are subject to a £2.50 booking fee per ticket), or visit the Ticket Office located on the first floor of the Etihad Stadium City Store. For more details please click here.