MAN CITY 3, BAYERN MUNICH 2
Manuel Pellegrini saluted Sergio Aguero who single handedly kept alive Manchester City’s hopes of qualifying for the knockout phase of the Champions League following a dramatic home victory against Bayern Munich.
Two late goals from Aguero, which completed a stunning hat trick, means City could still progress from group E if they win their last match at AS Roma.
City’s manager explained: “I always said before the game Sergio is one of the best players in the world and one of the best strikers.
“He played very well and the team also played very well in the second half.”
City, who had failed to register a win in their first four group games, were heading towards defeat when they were 2-1 down in the 85th minute as 10-man Bayern were on the brink of a fifth straight win in the group.
Aguero struck twice, the winner in stoppage time, as City produced a remarkable recovery.
City had taken the lead through an Aguero penalty after 22 minutes when Bayern were reduced to 10 men after Medhi Benatia brought down the Argentine when through on goal.
Bayern stunned City by overturning the deficit by half time through goals from Xabi Alonso and Robert Lewandowski.
City toiled in the second half until Aguero’s late intervention as his treble made it 17 goals in 18 appearances for the season.
Pellegrini added that City will fight to the end while they still have a chance to qualify.
He explained: “We had to do our duty which was to win our last two games. We have won the first and now we must try and beat Roma away and rely of CSKA Moscow losing to Bayern.
“I am sure this victory will gives the whole squad a lot of trust. It is an important one and when there is a mathematic chance to qualify, we will fight to the end.”
Pellegrini was unhappy with the way his side lost its way in the opening half.
He continued: “We conceded two unbelievable goals and when you concede two goals it is hard to win.
“I said at half time we have 45 minutes to score and told the players to fight to the end and it was our last chance to continue in the Champions League.”
City were without the suspended Yaya Toure and Fernandinho while David Silva, Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov were ruled out through injury,
Pellegrini made five changes from the side which beat Swansea City on Saturday as Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Stevan Jovetic, Toure and Fernandinho were left or ruled out.
Bacary Sagna and Eliaquim Mangala were drafted into defence while Frank Lampard, Fernando and James Milner reinforced the midfield as Aguero was the lone front man.
Bayern were the more dangerous side from the start and Arjen Robben had two clear-cut chances in the opening 10 minutes.
Joe Hart made a brilliant block on his six-yard line and then watched as a shot from the Dutchman flew just wide.
But the pendulum swung the way of City when Bayern were reduced to 10 men after 21 minutes when Benatia was sent off for bringing down Aguero who had been put clean through by Lampard. Aguero picked himself up to score from the spot.
Ten-man Bayern equalised five minutes before the break when Mangala fouled Lewandowski just outside the box and Alonso fired home the resulting free kick low to the left of keeper Hart.
And there was another shock on the stroke of half time when Bayern stole ahead when Lewandowski looped a header over Hart from 14 yards as he got in-between Vincent Kompany and Sagna to meet a cross from Jerome Boateng.
Navas forced a decent save from Manuel Neuer early in the second half while Milner curled an effort just over, but Bayern were rarely troubled.
And midway through the second period, Stevan Jovetic and Zabaleta were brought on as City looked for new ideas and a route back into the match.
Neuer made a great save 20 minutes from time as he athletically turned over a 30-yard drive from Lampard.
City eventually made a breakthrough with little over five minutes left when Jovetic made an interception in midfield and released Aguero who slotted the ball low past Neuer.
Then in stoppage time Boateng made a mess of dealing with a Zabaleta cross and Aguero struck again to leave the City fans delirious after they had produced a remarkable recovery having seemingly looked dead and buried minutes earlier.