Manchester City beat Roma 2-0 to book place in Champions League knock-out stage
If this was a test of Manchester City’s character, they passed it with flying colours.
With a hard-fought 2-0 away win over Roma this morning (Singapore time), they earned a ticket to the knock-out stage of the Champions League.
Goals from Samir Nasri and Pablo Zabaleta saw the English club climb from bottom of Group E to second place on the final day of the group phase.
City went into this match needing a victory over Roma, as well as for leaders Bayern Munich to defeat CSKA Moscow in the other game.
It was by no means an easy task.
The English Premier League champions were missing the injured Sergio Aguero and suspended Yaya Toure, two of their most important players.
Skipper Vincent Kompany also missed the game with a hamstring problem, while playmaker David Silva, recovering from a knee injury, started the match on the bench.
The hosts settled into the match quickly, with striker Gervinho proving a menace from the first whistle.
They almost went in front in the fifth minute, but City goalkeeper Joe Hart was alert to the danger and kept out Jose Holebas’ effort.
Moments later, it was defender Eliaquim Mangala’s turn to come to his team’s rescue when he cleared Gervinho’s dangerous cross.
The Ivory Coast forward had another two excellent chances to put Roma ahead in the first half, but Hart was in equally fine form.
City had their opportunities too, with midfielder James Milner making his presence felt at the other end of the pitch.
But the opening goal didn’t come until after the break.
It was worth the wait though.
Samir Nasri, sensing hesitance in the retreating Roma backline, took up the offer and fired an effort from outside the box on the hour mark. His powerful shot evaded goalkeeper Morgan de Sanctis and went in off the post to send the travelling fans wild with joy.
Roma almost equalised in the 72nd minute, but again, Hart was there to turn Kostas Manolas’ header onto the post.
Then four minutes from time, Manuel Pellegrini’s men made sure there was no way back for Roma.Zabaleta’s goal sealed City’s win, and it could well have saved his manager’s job too.