Wednesday, 22 February 2012

City vs FC Porto: Match Report

By Tom Smart

An early kick-off brought many strange feelings and emotions to the Etihad Stadium before an impressive 39,000 witnessed an emphatic win against the holders of the Europa League in the day’s early European game.

The home side were boosted by the advantage of holding a 2-1 lead after defeating Porto away the previous week, with goals coming from Aguero and an own goal from Pereira.

City began the game in remarkable fashion with Otamendi sloppily giving the ball away to which Yaya Toure capitalised and fed the ball through the smallest of gaps for Sergio Aguero to slam home beyond Helton. City 3-1 up on aggregate and less than 20 seconds of the match played, not the start Porto would have wanted.

Porto than began to get a foothold within the game retaining possession smartly in the midfield and making City work to get the ball back.

Yaya Toure was released on goal following an effective counter attack, he was forced wide and cut the ball back for Aguero, who should have done better with the finish but was only able to hit the side netting.

City continued to work hard to create chances on the break and in the 25th minute Sergio Aguero was able to go round Helton following a mishap in the Porto defence and angle a shot at goal that struck the bar and bounced clear.

Porto managed to find a way forward eventually but wasted chances from Lucho Gonzalez with a one-on-one with Joe Hart and a close range opportunity that Otamendi put way over the bar following a knock down from Maicon.

Porto continued their possession-based dominance but yet again failed to truly test Joe Hart in the Manchester City goal. Lucho Gonzalez managing to aim a shot just wide, forced Hart to dive across to his right-hand side, but the England international looked as if he had it covered.

Porto were eventually celebrating, albeit for 20 seconds, before realising that the goal had been ruled out for offside. James Rodriguez had planted the ball home, but the Brazilian captain Hulk was the culprit forcing the play to be deemed offside.

Otamendi’s night went from bad to worse when he was substituted due to injury following a collision with goalkeeper Helton. City rang in changes with Milner posing a more attacking presence in midfield replacing Gareth Barry. Dzeko also entered the game in place of after a fairly astute performance from Nasri.

The game petered on with Porto looking the more likely to create a goal scoring opportunity before City sprang back into life. Aguero and Silva linked up neatly on the left wing and worked the ball towards to penalty area, Aguero skipped beyond the challenge of a Porto defender and slotted the ball through perfectly for Dzeko to place the ball home through the legs of Helton. Bizarrely, during the celebrations by the City players, Rolando went over to the referee’s assistant on the far side and appeared to shout something at him. Referee Stark perceived it to be unacceptable behaviour and handed him his 2nd yellow card of the evening followed by a red, this along with the goal effectively ending the tie.

City hadn’t finished there, just after David Pizarro had come on to replace Sergio Aguero, City created their 3rd of the night and 5th of the tie. The ball was won high up the pitch following pressure from Micah Richards, Pizarro won the ball, played a one-two with Dzeko and squared the ball across the box into the path of David Silva who tucked it home from close range. The City loan signing instrumental in finishing the night in emphatic fashion.

Pizarro continued to pull the City creative midfield strings and punish Porto further. Pizarro chipped the ball forward into Dzeko, the Serbian striker laid in it off with the help of a toe from the defender placing it straight into the path of Pizarro before the Italian midfielder made it City 4th on the night and 6-1 on aggregate.

An all round impressive performance from the blues that outlined the tactical efficiency from manager Roberto Mancini and the depth in quality when going forward and attacking. The win sees the team head into the last 16 to either play Legia Warsaw or Sporting Lisbon with City now the favourites the win the competiton.


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