Atalanta 1, Manchester City 1
Kyle Walker ended up in goal after 10-man Manchester City hung on for a memorable draw after they should have beaten Atalanta comfortably in Italy.Embed from Getty Images
City lost both Ederson and Claudio Bravo to injury and a red card and might have lost the game after a sloppy second half performance against the Italians.
But days after his late winner against Southampton, Kyle Walker was in action again – coming off the bench to don the goalkeepers’ gloves to keep City in the game with a late save.
It was hardly the best preparation for Sunday’s showdown against Liverpool at Anfield.
Walker, Angelino, John Stones, Sergio Aguero, and the injured David Silva were the players who missed out as Pep Guardiola made five changes from the side that struggled to break down Southampton at the weekend.
Coming in were Joao Cancelo, Benjamin Mendy, Nicolas Otamendi, Gabriel Jesus, and Riyad Mahrez.
Raheem Sterling scored his 14th goal in 16 appearances for City after just 7 minutes after latching onto a back heel by Gabriel Jesus after Bernardo Silva had fed the ball into the Brazilian to side foot the ball home.
Sterling, Mahrez, and Gundogan could have doubled City’s lead in a dominant first half for the Blues after they took control of the game.
City missed a host of chances to end the game with Jesus guilty of a tame spot kick miss, his third miss in seven for City, awarded by referee Aleksey Kulbakov after a double VAR check for a penalty just before the break.
But an intelligent and swift use of VAR was quickly overshadowed by drama in the second half.
City withdrew Ederson after an injury check at half time but his replacement Claudio Bravo conceded an equaliser 4 minutes after the restart by Mario Pasalic as the Blues paid for their profligate first half finishing.
Bravo’s eventful night came to an early end as he was sent off in the 81st minute after being forced into a rash challenge outside his own area on Josip Ilicic after a mistake by Ilkay Gundogan making him the first substitute goalkeeper to be sent off in Champions League history.
There were 7 minutes of added time for City to hang on and Walker, who saved Ruslan Mainovskyi’s free kick, was well protected by his team as the Blues escaped from the San Siro with a point.
And even after all that, thanks to 98th minute equaliser by Shakhtar Donetsk in their 3-3 draw at Dinamo Zagreb, City only need to avoid defeat against Shakhtar to qualify for the knockout stages, while a win would allow them to top Group C.
GOALS – Atalanta 1, Manchester City 1
Man City 1, Atalanta 0: 7. Bernard Silva found Gabriel Jesus whose back heel released Raheem Sterling for a side foot finish to put City into an early lead in the San Siro.
Man City 1, Atalanta 1: 49. Mario Pasalic headed home past Claudio Bravo from 6 yards out after Alejandro Gomez went past Nicolas Otamendi and put a great cross in.
MATCH STATS – Atalanta 1, Manchester City 1
Atalanta BC: Gollini, Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti, Hateboer, de Roon, Freuler (Malinovskyi 84), Castagne (Muriel 90+2), Pasalic, Gomez, Ilicic
Atalanta BC Subs not used: Sportiello, Kjaer, Masiello, Arana, Barrow
Booking: Djimsiti 27 (shirt pull on Riyad Mahrez), Toloi 39 (hauling down Raheem Sterling), Ilicic 42 (handball), Castagne 79 (bad foul on Joao Cancelo)
Goal: Pasalic 49
Man City: Ederson, Cancelo (Walker 88), Otamendi, Fernandinho, Mendy, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez, Sterling, Jesus (Aguero 73)
Man City Subs not used: Stones, Angelino, Garcia, Doyle
Booked: Fernandinho 70 (foul on Hans Hateboer), Mendy 90+2 (timewasting)
Sent Off: Bravo 81 (reckless challenge outside his box on Josip Ilicic)
Goal: Sterling 7
Referee: Aleksey Kulbakov