Manchester City’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages are all-but over after drawing at home to Dutch side Ajax. After falling two down early on, Mancini’s men were able to rescue a point in the end, but the draw still leaves them bottom of the group with just two points.
After two losses and a draw in their opening three Champions League games, Manchester City had to beat Ajax at home this evening to give them a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time, but things did not start the way they had wanted.
After just ten minutes, Ajax gained the lead after sloppy defending from Manchester City. A corner wasn’t cleared by any of the City defenders and the loose ball fell to Siem De Jong who cleverley chipped over Joe Hart to give the Dutch side an early lead. Roberto Mancini was left fuming on the touchline as he saw his side concede a sloppy early goal.
Things then got worse for Mancini and his men when another corner was awfully defended. Siem De Jong ghosted to the near post and thumped his header home past the helpless Joe Hart on the 18th minute. Another awful goal to concede from City’s point of view and that left them 2-0 down in the opening twenty minutes and their chances of qualifying were all but gone.
Hope was regained when a Yaya Toure bicycle kick crashed into the back of the net in the 22nd minute, much to the delight and relief of the home fans. The scoreline stayed the same up to half-time and left Roberto Mancini with a lot of thinking to do.
The game was wide open all second half with chances falling for both sides, but neither were able to convert chances into goals. This was until the 74th minute, when Sergio Aguero pegged back Man City and made it 2-2. After a smart pass from Mario Balotelli, Aguero got the ball and smashed it past the Ajax goalkeeper. A sense of relief hit the Etihad stadium and Roberto Mancini as his side was finally back in the game.
After gaining the equaliser, it was all Man City for the rest of the game and it left Ajax on the back-foot and piling men back to try and hold onto the point. A Mario Balotelli header was smartly saved by Ajax keeper, Vermeer, to keep the scores level with only minutes remaining.
Man City thought they had gone 3-2 up when Aguero smashed home a Kolarov cross, but his celebrations were cut short when he realised the flag had been raised as replays showed Aleksander Kolarov was just offside.
If drawing the game and facing elimination from the Champions League wasn’t enough for Man City, they were left even more fuming at the final whistle. After a free-kick was pumped into the box by Joe Hart, it was clear for everyone to see that Mario Balotelli was being tugged to stop him from getting the ball, but instead of giving a penalty, the referee blew for full-time. Replays showed that Balotelli’s shirt was nearly ripped off his chest and it should have been a penalty for City, but the referee, the linesman and the official behind the goal all waved appeals away.
As the final whistle went, Mario Balotelli chased after the referee shouting in his face and demanding answers. He was then joined by the rest of the City squad and also the City manager. Balotelli ended up being pulled away by City captain, Vincent Kompany, as the Italian was clearly losing his temper.
After the game, City boss, Mancini, was clearly annoyed at the officials and this showed in his interview after the game:
“The ref and the linesman were really poor. It was a penalty and [before then] it was a goal, not offside. What did he say back to me? Nothing.”
As for the club captain, he was also devastated with the draw which sees City all-but out of the Champions League:
“It is very disappointing because I am sure we did enough to win the game. At corners, it is important to defend as a team and we probably let ourselves down, especially because they didn’t have a lot of other chances.”
The draw still leaves Man City bottom of the group with just two points which means they will need two wins against Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid in their last two games. They will also need to hope other results go their way in order for them to stand a chance of qualifying through to the knockout stages.
sillyseason’s Man of the Match: Siem De Jong
Alex William Batt