Manchester City secure qualification
By Niall Clarke
- Manchester City defeat Sevilla 3-1
- City are through to the round of 16
- Manchester United defeat CSKA Moscow 1-0
Manchester City are one of the first sides to book their place in the next round of the UEFA Champions League after a 3-1 away win at Sevilla.
The victory coupled with the draw between Juventus and Borussia Monchengladbach sealed the Citizen’s place in the last 16 with two games to spare.
Raheem Sterling opened the scoring with his first ever Champions League goal, with Fernandinho and Wilfried Bony also getting themselves on the scoresheet in a thrilling first half. Benoit Tremoulinas’ goal to make it 2-1 threatened a comeback, but City saw out one of their finest European performances.
The Sky Blues went luminous in kit but it was not the reason they stood out. There was a purpose about their play, a willingness to get forward and hurt the Sevilla defence- and that is exactly what they did.
Eight minutes is all it took for City to take the lead. A man often criticised for his lack of finishing ability proved critics wrong when Sterling placed the ball into the bottom right hand corner.
The 20 year old was putting in a dazzling display on the left hand side, and it was that ability that opened up the second goal. Bony’s shot off Sterling’s layoff was saved by Rico but the excellent anticipation by Fernandinho meant the Brazilian had an easy header to double the lead.
Clearly displeased with the opening 12 minutes, the home crowd whistled and jeered. Their fears were almost multiplied when their former star man Jesus Navas clipped the post with a drilled effort from the right hand side.
Sensing urgency, Sevilla pressed back and Fernando Llorente could, and probably should have brought one back, but he fired over from close range. The shift of momentum did not go un-rewarded. The Spaniards hit back on 24 minutes through Tremoulinas who headed in from close range.
However, City were in an attacking mood tonight and towards the end of the half, Bony joined the first Champions League goal club by turning in Navas’ cross.
The second half did not see the action of the first, but from Manuel Pellegrini’s perspective that was the perfect thing that could happen. Sevilla looked more like their domestic self rather than the side that went all the way in the Europa League last year, and results elsewhere confirmed Manchester City’s place in the last 16.
United take big step towards qualification with win
Back in Manchester the Red half celebrated a win with their first goal in three games. Louis Van Gaal’s men ran out 1-0 winners at home to CSKA Moscow, putting them within a victory of qualification.
A lot has been made of the lack of style and substance In recent weeks. Van Gaal has come under huge scrutiny for the lack of attacking enterprise from his side, and at half time it looked like another damp squid. The fans vented their frustration at half time, because yet again United had failed to score.
The whistles and boo’s around the Theatre of dreams were telling enough when Anthony Martial was replaced by Marouane Fellaini– The crowd wanted to see their team push forward.
The cries of “attack, attack, attack” were well received though. The Red Devils pressed for the opener, and who else but Wayne Rooney would give the supporters what they were looking for.
The Captain’s header turned out to be the winner, his first goal in the Champions League for over two years, and how important could that prove to be.
Results elsewhere mean United sit at the top of Group B, and victory at home to PSV in two weeks time would send Van Gaal’s men marching into the next round.
Borussia Monchengladbach fought hard, but could only manage a draw at home to Juventus. The result means the Bundesliga side are now out of the competition whilst Manchester City advance.
Wolfsburg’s 2-0 defeat away at PSV capped off the misery for German sides tonight. The result puts the Dutch side level with the Bundesliga outfit on six points, one behind leaders Man United.
Again, the highly anticipated clash between Real Madrid and PSG failed to deliver many goals. But this affair was much better than the previous one in Paris two weeks a go. Nacho provided the only goal in a game largely controlled by the visitors. Shakhtar Donetsk made light work of Malmo in the groups other fixture. The results mean Real Madrid have also confirmed their place in the last 16.
Benfica have put themselves in the driving seat in Group C with a 2-1 win at home to Galatasaray. Atletico Madrid meanwhile could only manage a goalless draw away at FC Astana in the days early kick off.
The Champions League returns with Chelsea and Arsenal in action at 19:45 GMT Wednesday evening
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