‘Beauty and the Beast’ seal last 16 qualification for the first time in City history
By Adam Bailey
The Etihad Stadium was treated to another five Manchester City goals on Tuesday night as Álvaro Negredo and Sergio Agüero ran riot in a 5-2 win over CSKA Moscow.
|Photo: Official MCFC Facebook|
Manuel Pellegrini’s impressive Champions League credentials were on the line before the crucial tie in Manchester, but his side were in fine form to seal a comprehensive victory that fired them into the last sixteen for the first time in their history.
It took only three minutes for the home side to proceed in punishing the visitors when David Silva was clumsily brought down by Zoran Tošić inside the box. Agüero subsequently stepped up to net his 13th goal of the season.
The penalty may have gone down as Agüero’s easiest goal of the season so far, but the prolific Argentine wasn’t about to stop there. Just seventeen minutes later, City’s top scorer latched onto an exquisite pass from Samir Nasri, silkily span his defender and finely finished into Igor Akinfeev’s bottom corner.
Manuel’s minions were marching to yet another vivacious victory on home soil and Sergio’s strike partner Álvaro Negredo wanted in on the act. On the thirty minute mark, Agüero teed up his Spanish sidekick who tapped in to give City a 3-0 lead. Goals were a problem for Roberto Mancini last season, but ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (as Agüero and Negredo have been recently nicknamed) seem to have no trouble finding the net this campaign.
The Blues were teasing the Russians with their tantalising football, with Nasri propelling City’s skilful midfield. The Frenchman seems to have returned to the form he was producing in his Arsenal days and City fans were able to witness the midfielder at his very best on Tuesday night.
However, on the halfway mark, the budding Premier League champions gifted the visitors a goal through a lazy defensive error. Seydou Doumbia raced onto a penetrating through ball to round Costel Pantilimon and generate some hope for his trailing side. Defensive frailties have been characteristic of City’s play this season and they were highlighted once again.
The half time shock sprung Pellegrini’s men back into life and just six minutes after the restart, Yaya Touré chipped in a luxurious ball to Nasri who selflessly teed the ball into Negredo for his second of the evening.
City’s tika-taka play up top was mesmerising, but their leaky defence always looked vulnerable. The Russians were gifted yet another goal midway into the second half when Gaël Clichy needlessly pulled back Doumbia inside the penalty area. The speedy Ivorian stepped up for his second of the night.
The scoring didn’t finish there as the home side pushed for more goals in true Pellegrini style. With seconds left to play, substitute James Milner skilfully took on his marker and chipped to present Negredo with his third. The left-foot, right-foot, headed perfect hat-trick marked the Spaniard’s ninth goal of the season for Manchester City and he has proven to be a shrewd bit of business.
Progression into the last sixteen imprints a hefty stamp on Manchester City’s history and although we may possess the most potent strike-force in the competition, our defence still needs work.
City CSKA Moscow
59% Possession 41%
15 (9) Shots (on target) 12 (6)
6 Corners 15
2 Fouls 5