MANCHESTER CITY 1, BAYERN MUNICH 3
Joe Hart will be under intense scrutiny again after his latest high profile howler allowed Bayern Munich to open the scoring early on in their Champions League game. Two further errors by Fernandinho and Gael Clichy gifted the visitors an unassailable 3-0 lead before substitute Alvaro Negredo netted a consolation.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to apportion blame, instead preferring to look at the performance of the team which disappointed on the night.
“We played very bad and Bayern made a great game. We made some big errors for their goals. We were playing in a different way, they had possession of the ball and I didn’t think we could make the change.
“We didn’t have possession of the ball although we tried to have more. Bayern always had more possession today. We started playing well but after the first goal we started losing the ball and that’s very dangerous.
“Of course I worry about the mistakes. I think that it wasn’t an easy game for us.
“There’s a lot of reasons why this happened and it’s important for us to find a solution for the future.
“We can improve a lot but we have the ability to qualify for the next round. The players and I know what’s required to qualify.”
Although defeated on the night, Pellegrini was cheered by the improvement shown after the second half substitutions.
“The three subs played very well, we changed a little more in the match for the last 20 minutes.
“David Silva could only play for 20 minutes and when he came on we had more of the ball. It was an important game to see what level we are playing at so we must revise a lot of things.”
City made four changes from their defeat at Aston Villa at the weekend with Micah Richards, Jesus Navas, Sergio Aguero and Gael Clichy coming in for Pablo Zabaleta, Aleksandar Kolarov, James Milner and Alvaro Negredo but Bayern manager Pep Guardiola opted to play a Barcelona-style striker-less formation against City.
The home side’s energetic start was deflated by a long range Franck Ribery shot following a cross-field diagonal pass from Rafinha to the French winger which he followed up with a touch and a whipped speculative shot that bounced in off the England ‘keeper’s outstretched right hand in only the seventh minute.
City looked over-run and overawed in midfield as Pellegrini attempted to make tactical alterations to counter the Bayern tactics but it only served to disrupt their own shape as waves of Bayern attacks made the home side look weak and disjointed.
Pot shots from Bayern as they made their way round the City midfield only served to make the home side more nervous with David Alaba allowed free reign to coast past Micah Richards and Bayern wingers Arjen Robben and Ribery popping up everywhere.
Bayern could have gone in at the break 3-0 up easily as chances went begging for Thomas Muller, the nominal Bayern striker, made by both Ribery and Robben. Alaba’s twice-struck attempts at a cross were collected by a grateful Hart after a deflection off Matija Nastasic after the England ‘keeper parried the full-back’s first attempt.
If there was any department in which Bayern disappointed it was with set pieces. City were beginning to accumulate fouls trying to stop the visitors but they inevitably disappointed with free kicks in response.
It was much the same after the break with a Bayern shot deflected off a defender by Robben testing Hart once again but it didn’t take too long for Bayern to break City’s defence with another cross-field ball – this time from Dante. It was Clichy who was caught napping as Muller ghosted in-field behind the Frenchman and collected the pass, rounding Hart and putting Bayern 2-0 up in the 56th minute.
Negredo was immediately introduced for Edin Dzeko but Bayern quickly went 3-0 up when Fernandinho lost the ball in midfield to Toni Kroos and City invited the inevitable counter attack which was finished by a rampant Robben on the hour despite Hart getting his fingers to the ball. It was another goal that the England ‘keeper will feel he could have done better with.
City’s attempts to counter were feeble as Bayern dominated possession and effectively passed City off the park hailed loudly by their travelling support.
Bayern’s late possession was embarrassing for City, they eventually finished with 61% of overall possession despite a late City fightback, and they should have been rewarded with a fourth goal when Muller outmuscled the City defence and launched a stinging drive that hit the post.
City’s subs gained some solace for the home fans at the end of the game as City finally started to turn the tide. James Milner’s 77th minute drive was finger-tipped over by Manuel Neuer and then David Silva found Negredo who spun around Jerome Boateng and fired home a consolation goal off the back post with 10 minutes to go.
There was a glimmer of late hope for City when Boateng was subsequently sent off as the last man in the 86th minute when Yaya Toure broke through the Bayern defence with the ball but Silva’s free kick – the best set piece of the night – came off the bar.
Milner’s left wing cross found Negredo in the last minute of normal time but the big Spaniard’s header went beyond the far post as City finally roused themselves but it was too late to affect the result.