Manchester City dropped more points in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, as AS Roma held them to a 1-1 draw in Group E at the Etihad Stadium.
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Sergio Aguero’s early penalty was cancelled out by Francesco Totti’s silky finish as the Italian giants came to England with a gameplan and frustrated City who failed to break down a stubborn Roma defense.
The Citizens now have just one point from their first two group games, while Roma sit in second place with four and Bayern Munich are top with six points. Plenty of work for Manuel Pellgrini’s men to do after another disappointing night of European action, but they now face back-to-back matches versus CSKA Moscow.
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In just the fourth minute a delightful clipped ball from David Silva played in Aguero who got the wrong side of Maicon and the Brazilian defender clearly pulled Aguero back to concede a penalty. Aguero stepped up to score the spot kick for his fourth goal of the season to give City the perfect start. In the sixth minute Maicon — who was lucky to still be on the pitch after denying a clear goalscoring opportunity for the PK — surged forward down the right, played a magnificent one-two with Francesco Totti but his thumping effort crashed off the crossbar and away. So close to an equalizer for Roma as a frantic start ensued at the Etihad.
Things didn’t calm down as both teams continued to flood forward and Roma got a deserved equalizer in the 23rd minute. Nainggolan played in Totti and the veteran attacker caught Vincent Kompany and City’s entire defense out of position before lifting a lovely dink over the onrushing Joe Hart to make it 1-1. With the goal Totti, aged 38, became the oldest scorer in Champions League history.
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City struggled to get a foothold in the game and Roma looked extremely dangerous on the break with Gervinho getting in behind and forcing Hart into a good stop. Before the break City could have had another penalty when Silva’s cross was pulled back towards Aguero but Manolas slid in and looked to handle in the box but the scored were locked at 1-1 with Roma in the ascendancy.
At half time Manuel Pellergini replaced Jesus Navas with James Milner, as he tried to quell the threat of Roma’s lighting-quick counter attacks. That plan didn’t work as Totti fizzed a shot just wide, then Miralem Pjanic saw his shot blocked by Hart from close range as the Italian outfit piled on the pressure. Moments later Pjanic curled an effort just wide of the post as City were at sixes and sevens. Frank Lampard came off the bench to give City an extra man in midfield and he linked up superbly to play in Fernandinho but the Brazilian’s effort was blocked after a super last-ditch challenge from Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
The closing stages of the game saw City take charge as Silva and Lampard both went close but Roma held on for an important draw away from home to leave City still searching for their first UCL win of the season.
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Navas (Milner, 45′), Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Silva, Aguero (Jovetic, 85′), Dzeko (Lampard, 57′)
Goal: Aguero (4′)
AS Roma: Skorupski; Maicon (Torosidis, 89′), Manolas, Mapou, Cole; Pjanic, Keita, Nainggolan; Florenzi (Holebas, 83′), Totti (Iturbe, 72′), Gervinho
Goal: Totti (23′)