ESPN: City's Kyiv win was the Blues at their best
- 25 February 2016 07:28
- Posted by @timoscroft
City’s superb 3-1 win over Dynamo Kyiv dominates the media agenda this morning.
No surprises there, and in the humble opinion of us here at WTMS Towers it was a performance and result worthy of the amount of web servers groaning under the strain of the coverage it has received.
But, context is everything, and how the Blues have fared in previous European campaigns as well as Sunday’s hotly-debated FA Cup exit are both raised across today’s coverage.
ESPN’s City correspondent Jonathan Smith flags up our thwarted Euro missions of old, saying, "...in five European campaigns under Manuel Pellegrini and previous boss Roberto Mancini, City have never looked like getting anywhere close to their continental rivals.”
But last night’s display hits the mark, and he adds: "In Ukraine, they delivered possibly their best team performance of the season, running tirelessly and pressing uncharacteristically high in an impactful display of teamwork.
"It was also strange to see a player such as Fernando leading the charge. The Brazilian has struggled since joining from Porto two years ago but finally delivered the destructive defensive midfield display that underpinned City's control. Either side of him Sterling and Fernandinho, playing an unfamiliar right-wing role, pitched in with hard work while offering pace and threat that Kiev couldn't handle.
"At the back, the return of captain Kompany has brought in a calmness required in a defence that has looked panicky and fraught all season. And when the home side threatened a comeback in the second half, the Belgian showed the leadership and serenity that the back four has been missing as City rode out the danger before breaking for the third goal."
However Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail was not as impressed, stating that, “City should have coasted into the quarter-finals, the second leg a formality. Instead, until Toure scored the third, they had left themselves with a little to do against a Dynamo Kiev side that will be readier and fitter by next month, despite considerable deficiencies.
“Somehow, having been two goals clear and completely in control at half-time, City ended up shielding a single-goal lead for much of the second half and clinging on.”
And the debate over the team selection last Sunday rears its head again, with the Daily Mirror’s David McDonnell declaring that Manuel Pellegrini got his approach for this week absolutely right.
"Manuel Pellegrini's decision to sacrifice the FA Cup paid off as Manchester City planted one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals.
"Playing a weakened side in Sunday's 5-1 defeat at Chelsea saw Pellegrini and City vilified for reducing English football's most treasured competition to a farce.
"But here, in the biting cold and driving sleet of Kiev, that decision was vindicated, with City producing a coming-of-age win to effectively put them in the last eight for the first time."