MAN CITY 1, CSKA MOSCOW 2
Manchester City’s hopes of reaching the knockout phase of the Champions League all but fizzled out on Bonfire Night following their home defeat to CSKA Moscow.
Two goals from Ivory Coast international Seydou Doumbia inflicted a painful loss which leaves City bottom of group E with two points from a possible 12 with Bayern Munich and Roma still to play.
And they will face Bayern in three weeks time without Yaya Toure and Fernandinho who were both sent off as City ended a miserable night with only nine players.
It was another disappointing night for City who squandered a two-goal lead in Moscow a fortnight ago.
And CSKA, who lost 5-2 at the Etihad Stadium last season, became the first Russian side to win in England since Spartak Moscow at Blackburn Rovers in 1995. Since then eight teams failed to win on these shores.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini still believes City can qualify, despite the latest setback.
“While mathematically it is possible to qualify, we must try to do so. It is not impossible, but it is harder,” he said.
Pellegrini also refused to blame referee Tasos Sidiropoulos who was at the centre of a number of controversial decisions.
He continued: “I cannot blame the referee and do no want to make excuses and link the referee to the result.
“The referee must decide whether it is a red card or penalty, it is up to me to analyse why my team is not playing well and how we can return to the performances we know we can give.
“It is difficult to understand why our performance was so low. We played a good game against Manchester United and had chances to win this game, but gave away two easy goals in the first half.”
City named the same starting line up which began Sunday’s derby which meant Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri were again on the bench.
There was a nightmare start as City fell behind after only 96 seconds. Gael Clichy was penalised for handling the ball just outside the penalty area. Doumbia rose to head a free kick from Bebras Natcho into the roof of the net from six yards.
The setback jolted City to life and they equalised in the eighth minute when Toure scored with a sublime free kick after Stevan Jovetic was fouled 25 yards from goal. It was his third goal of the season and first in 10 Champions League games.
CSKA ought to have regained the lead when striker Doumbia pounced after a slip by Martin Demichelis. He burst through on goal only to fire wide from the edge of the box when he ought to have found the net.
There was no escape in the 34th minute when Moscow went 2-1 ahead after a wayward pass by Clichy was intercepted by Natcho who released Doumbia on the left of the box to fire home a low past keeper Joe Hart for his 10th Champions League goal in 13 games with five of those goals scored against City.
Desperate times called for desperate measures and Pellegrini made two changes at the break as Jesus Navas and Jovetic were replaced by Fernandino and Nasri.
And midway through the second period, Pellegrini played his last card bringing on Dzeko for Fernando. City only threatened occasionally, James Milner seeing one decent effort saved by the legs of keeper Igor Akinfeev.
And their night got a whole lot worse when Fernandinho, who only been on the pitch for 25 minutes, was sent off after collecting a second yellow card.
City had a great chance to equalise when Sergio Aguero released Dzeko, but Akinfeev made a great save at his feet.
There was controversy when Greek referee Sidiropoulos wrongly booked Sergei Ignashevich when he ought to have shown Pontus Wernbloom a second yellow.
And City were reduced to nine men with eight minutes left when Toure was shown a straight red card for a push in the face of Roman Eremenko as their frustration boiled over.